Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Rooney ready to hurt Gunners again

Wayne Rooney says he 'will always remember the 2004 game' against Arsenal

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is out to have more fun at Arsenal's expense at Old Trafford on Sunday and said: "They must be sick of the sight of me."

The Gunners have figured prominently in the 28-year-old's career.

He announced himself on the Premier League stage against them with his wonder strike for Everton in 2002.

Two years later, following his £27million move to United, he won the penalty for Ruud van Nistelrooy's opener, then scored the second as the Arsenal 'Invincibles' saw their 49-match unbeaten record come to a shuddering halt.

Arsenal were also the opposition when Rooney scored his 100th Premier League goal, part of an overall haul of 10, the most England's talisman has scored against any individual club.

So Arsene Wenger could be forgiven a sense of trepidation when his league leaders head north this weekend.

"Arsenal do crop up quite often," said Rooney.

"It is a bit weird. I am sure they must be sick of the sight of me at times.

"That first goal for Everton does seem like a long time ago.

"It was obviously a special goal for me, plus they were 32 games unbeaten. And I will always remember the 2004 game.

"There had been a lot of hype around it because of what happened the year before with Ruud van Nistelrooy.

"That was as tense as I ever remember it before a game.

"Arsenal were a fantastic team and it was a great feeling to beat them 2-0 and end that record."

Rooney was speaking at the launch of a three-year partnership between United and their new official timekeeper Bulova.

As part of the deal, the United squad will get the chance to design their own personalised watch, which Rooney intends to dedicate to his children - Kai and Klay.

"It is exciting," he said.

Not as exciting as facing Arsenal, though, especially given the Gunners' recent form.

Wenger's side have established a five-point lead at the top of the table, and boast an eight-point advantage over United.

Yet the Red Devils are on an eight-match unbeaten run of their own and Rooney recognises now would be the ideal time to kick on.

"It is the perfect fixture for us," he said.

"Arsenal are obviously doing really well but with our current form, it is a chance for us to get a bit closer in the table."

Speaking to Press Association Sport following United's goalless draw with Real Sociedad in midweek, Rooney cast doubt on Arsenal's staying power.

It is a view he repeated on Friday morning, even though he accepted Arsenal look capable of maintaining their present form.

"I said before, it will be interesting to see whether they can maintain that because over the last six or seven years they have faded off," he said.

"Certainly they seem in a better place. They seem stronger.

"We know we will have to be at our best to beat them but we are capable of that.

"I have always enjoyed my games against them and it has always been a big game. Hopefully we can get the right result on Sunday.

"It will be interesting to see what happens."

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