Carrick: Gunners out for revenge
United wary of 8-2 backlash as Cleverley and Young on mend
MICHAEL CARRICK admits revenge may be Arsenal's prime motivation when they face Manchester United on Sunday.
The two Premier League giants meet at the Emirates Stadium for the first time since that astonishing 8-2 league triumph for United at |Old Trafford in August.
And the sheer magnitude of that scoreline may be a factor in the Gunners' approach.
“Maybe,” said Carrick when asked if Arsenal would be out for revenge. “They didn't start the season too well but they are still up there.
“Arsenal against Manchester United is always a massive game. They will want to win and so will we.”
It is not so much a case of the Red Devils wanting to win. By the time they kick-off, it might be a clear case of having to.
If Manchester City overcome third-placed Tottenham in the other title crunch taking place on Sunday, United will be six points adrift of a team that will only get stronger once Yaya and Kolo Toure return from African Nations Cup duty with the Ivory Coast.
Carrick added: “Manchester City have done well. You have to give them credit. They set an early pace, had a funny Christmas period, and have now bounced back.
“It's close at the moment, so we want to catch up with them.
“The bar has been raised this year.”
It is a challenge that long-serving United manager Alex Ferguson will relish. Ferguson confirmed long-term absentees Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley had started doing some “serious running”.
“They are doing a good running programme at the moment and their fitness levels are good,” said the United boss.
And for Cleverley at least, that means a potential comeback in the middle of February. “I am hopeful in 10 days' time, he will be playing football on the training side of it.
“His fitness levels should be fine and if that is correct, you are talking about a week.”
Meanwhile, Ferguson refused to discuss controversial 18-year-old Ravel Morrison, who hardly did himself any favours last week with his immediate response to the United manager's claim that he had turned down a contract offer. Morrison has subsequently been the subject of various stories, and has himself played down links with City.
“I have nothing to say about that,” he said. “It is nothing to do with a game against Arsenal.”
But Ferguson did play down claims that negotiations over a new contract for Danny Welbeck had hit a stumbling block. “There is no issue,” he said of the striker who is expected to recover from a minor knock. “There is nothing to worry about there.”