League title this season – though they could have their say in its destination when they visit Old Trafford in the league in May. But they are in excellent form at the right end of the season.
“There is always a danger in Europe when a team is not challenging for the league title,” says Sir Alex, aware of the Gunners’ threat. “They’ve got a very good recent record which shows you they are in form. They won’t change, they will do exactly what they normally do: They will have a go, that’s for sure.
“This is why we have prepared in the best possible way. We have enough freshness in the team now. That period where we were playing quite a few games in a short space of time has now changed. Four days rest between games is enough. You saw the energy of the team in the second half against Tottenham, so there is nothing wrong with that side of our play. Arsenal are also fresh, and that augurs well for a good game and a real tussle.”
Preparation is clearly the key, and while Arsenal have plenty to worry about with United’s key players, Sir Alex says United, too, need to be wary of those in the Gunners’ armoury. The Reds boss cites Cesc Fabregas as “a brilliant player” who is coming back to form, and he points out that Patrice Evra will need to be on his toes against Theo Walcott.
“I think Patrice is quick enough for that task,” he said. “He’s played against Walcott a few times. We’re all right with that. Listen, when you’re playing against good players you have to assess everything about them in the sense of what is the best way to oppose them. I think we have to do our work in that respect because the boy Walcott is very, very quick. He’s probably the quickest player in England at the moment. But we have to prepare the right way.”
The prospect of becoming the first team to retain the Champions League trophy is an appealing one to Sir Alex. “It’d be great to be the first team to do it,” he says. “We’re good at winning things first, and maybe that’s a good omen. We’re in the semi-final and with two good performances, or two