No chance of another 8-2, United`s, says Ferguson

Manchester: There is no chance of another goalfest when Manchester United visit old rivals Arsenal on Sunday with Alex Ferguson predicting a tight game rather than the 8-2 scoreline his champions enjoyed in August.

United are second in the Premier League before their trip to face Arsene Wenger`s team, whose season has improved since that drubbing but who seem out of contention for the title.

"It rankles I`m sure but you have to forget it and I`m sure that Arsene did that, it`s exactly what I`d have done anyway," Ferguson told a news conference on Friday.

"There`s no chance of (such an open game again) ... there won`t be a lot between the two teams on Sunday and let`s hope we get the result we want and need."

Arsenal were depleted when they visited Old Trafford and injuries have hit them hard this season, leading Ferguson - who is only just starting to see his own injury gloom improve - to praise them for the way they bounced back from the hammering.

"They recovered well ... they had a really good spell, they`ve qualified for the next stage of the Champions League so there is not a lot wrong there," said Ferguson, whose own team made a group-stage exit from Europe`s elite club competition.

Arsenal are in fifth place, 12 points behind United and 15 adrift of leaders Manchester City.

"They`ve had to contend with some injuries, in particular the two full backs ... it`s not easy. They`ve equipped themselves well," Ferguson added.

The United manager was glad that his own injury troubles were finally showing signs of easing as he welcomed the return of defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones for Sunday`s game.

He added that midfielder Tom Cleverley and winger Ashley Young were also close to a return after lengthy spells out, which is a lift ahead of a tricky series of fixtures including a trip to Chelsea and two games against arch-rivals Liverpool.

"It will be a great boost to us if he (Cleverley) and Ashley come back because they are influential players," Ferguson said, adding they should be training in 10 days` time and could be ready for a game a week after that.

"The way that Cleverley started the season was absolutely phenomenal. I have not seen that impact from a young player at our club for a long time.

"He has been a loss because he has got something different from everyone else."

After Sunday`s game at Arsenal, United head to Liverpool for an FA Cup fourth round match next weekend. They travel to Chelsea early next month before hosting Liverpool in the league.

"It`s the start of a hectic spell for us," Ferguson said. "It`s a programme ... which could decide a lot of the season."

Bureau Report