David Sadler column
All new-look and developing sides need a big, top grade result under their belts to move upwards to a new level. On Monday night Sir Alex Ferguson's latest generation got it when they beat Arsenal. It was the first major scalp the Reds have achieved without having one of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville in the starting XI. I think that is a significant psychological winning step for this squad to have taken against a team of Arsenal's great footballing reputation who were top of the Premier League when they visited Old Trafford. It comes on the back of the 7-1 home thrashing of Blackburn when, once again, the veteran three amigos didn't play. I am not writing Giggs, Scholes or Neville off for one minute. I don't want to see any of them retire. They will all be used to a lesser or greater degree during the course of the rest of this season and possibly beyond. But they have always been the turn-to players that Sir Alex has looked for when the Reds have needed a bit of a pick-me-up. You need your stalwart warriors at times to help the new breed along on massive occasions and there will still be times ahead when their experience will prove vital. But for the likes of Rafael, Anderson and Nani to register a fine result against Arsene Wenger's side on their record without the help of the older brigade is a marvellous boost for their own futures. Maybe at times some of those younger players have wondered if games likes that could be won without the comforting presence of top-class pros who have been there and done it so often before. Now they know it can be done. They stood the test against an excellent team and for United's future that is a great thing. Now let's see if they can do it again at Stamford Bridge on Sunday should Fergie choose to stick with the same side. It will be a more physical test against Chelsea in London and if the manager plays the same side and keeps his elder statesmen as insurance it will be interesting to see how far this new, younger team has come on. Going into the Lion's den against the champions is a huge challenge and will be a terrific measure of how good United really are. It is very clear to see that Chelsea have stumbled but they looked like they were close to their best against Spurs at White Hart Lane last Sunday. We know from our own experience that when people have put huge question marks against you then the one thing you want is a big result against a rival to answer the barbs. I can imagine Chelsea's players are now champing at the bit in readiness for the Reds' visit. However, to be top of the tree at Christmas will be a great position for United after what has been a tough first half of the season. What do you think? Have your say.
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