Belfast Telegraph

Wenger's boys plan to blow away United

By Jim van Wijk

Manager Arsene Wenger has challenged Arsenal to "make a symbolic statement" by beating Manchester United on their own turf tomorrow to secure their place in the Champions League.

The Gunners head north looking to put the disappointment of Monday's 1-0 home reverse against Swansea behind them and repeat March's FA Cup quarter-final triumph, in the process earning a first Barclays Premier League win at Old Trafford since September 2006.

Arsenal are currently two points clear of the Red Devils, so, if Wenger's men can avoid defeat this weekend, it would leave them all but guaranteed third place, while victory would certainly consign Louis van Gaal's side to the Champions League qualifiers.

Wenger, though, believes Arsenal can lay down a marker for the challenges ahead next season with another strong performance in Manchester, having also beaten City away earlier in the campaign.

"You expect a game of quality first and we want to bounce back from our defeat against Swansea by putting in a good performance in straight away, and getting a good result out of that," Wenger said.

"Any result will be a positive result. A draw or a win would be great for us."

Wenger, who confirmed former United striker Danny Welbeck was expected to miss tomorrow's game through injury, added: "First of all we can mathematically put a distance between them and us in the top four and basically secure the top three.

"Also, we can make a symbolic statement because we won over there in the FA Cup, so to reproduce that would be psychologically important.

"(We can show) that we can beat Manchester United away from home, that we have won away from home again.

"Overall our recent away form has been very strong and that is always a sign of a team who is in progress."

The Frenchman added: "It is not especially a message to anybody, (but) to do it again would convince us more that we have the strength and can be even stronger next season.

"In the recent years it was a difficult ground for us and that is what we want to show, that we have made progress."

Meanwhile, United boss Louis van Gaal has warned it will be hard to land all his transfer targets this summer - but refused to be drawn on whether Harry Kane is one of them. Van Gaal spent more than £150million on seven new players this year and the United boss is understood to have another big kitty available to him this summer.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward admitted this week that United would be "active" in the market and Kane's name was mentioned as a possible target in media reports. It was suggested that Van Gaal could spend upwards of £100million on Kane and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale, but the Dutchman was in no mood to discuss the pair at his weekly press conference yesterday.

"You can mention a lot of names, I have seen that I buy everyone in the world but it's not like that," the United manager said.

Given that Kane has scored 30 goals this season - one more than United's four strikers combined - it is easy to see why the 21-year-old would be a target for the 20-time English champions. It is understood that Spurs will resist any bids for the England international, though.

Bale has had a difficult second year in Spain, but sources close to the Welshman insist he is staying put.

Van Gaal has already signed one player in Memphis Depay - who will join from PSV Eindhoven in a £25million move once he completes his medical.

But the club's spending is unlikely to stop there. Van Gaal has said he wants to buy a dynamic midfielder as Michael Carrick is entering the twilight of his career.

Defensive reinforcements and a striker are needed too.

Van Gaal admits he will find it difficult to acquire all his targets in the close season, however.

"Transfers is also a process," he said. "It's not: 'I want you, and he comes', there are always three parties - the player, the club, and ourselves. It's not so easy."

What is sure is that reinforcements are needed if United are to fulfil Woodward's vow that the team will "challenge in all competitions next season".

"It's easy to say that for him (Woodward). It's dependable of the balance of our selection next year," Van Gaal said.

"The most important thing is to make a balance in our selection because it's not good that I have to change the position of players."

Premier League: Old Trafford, Sun 4.00 pm (Sky)

Man Utd


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