PATRICE EVRA feels Manchester United got exactly what they deserved at Arsenal on Sunday — nothing.
Whilst Alex Ferguson was bemoaning the failure of referee Chris Foy to award a penalty for Gael Clichy’s late foul on Michael Owen, at the same time dismissing a blatant handball by Nemanja Vidic that could easily have led to the United skipper being sent off, Evra feels the blame lies rather closer to home.
“We didn’t play to the Manchester United way and when we don’t play to the Manchester United way we don’t deserve anything,” said the France defender.
“People think when we played against Schalke the game was easy. We made the game easy because we were ready for the battle and ready for the challenge.
“The game was easy because we played with more aggression and with power.
“Maybe against Arsenal we think it is going to be easy but we didn’t make the game easy.”
In a run of six wins in seven meetings with the Gunners leading up to Sunday’s clash, United had made a habit of hitting their opponents with rapid counter-attacks, believing Arsenal were unable to penetrate their own defences, no matter how much of the ball they had.
Evra still feels that now. Arsenal’s goal came as United were readjusting following the substitution of Anderson and Park Ji-sung’s momentary lapse of concentration freed Aaron Ramsey to slot home Robin van Persie’s cut-back.
Of far more concern was that United forgot the attacking aspect of their game plan, until it was far too late.
“We were too nice,” said Evra.
“We know Arsenal. They keep possession of the ball but they are never dangerous.
“But normally when we come to the Emirates, we play with more power and aggression and create more chances.
“You have to kill that game early, not wait until you concede a goal.
“The attitude at the beginning of the game wasn’t right. That is why I was very frustrated. We didn’t deserve to win.”
Ferguson now faces an important few days reminding his team they are still in a position of strength, two goals ahead of Schalke, who visit Old Trafford tomorrow night in theChampions League semi-final decider, and three points ahead of Chelsea, against whom they have home advantage in next week’s crucial Premier League encounter.
The United boss has already declared his intention to make changes in midweek, with Paul Scholes, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen all primed to start, in the hope of ensuring his first-choice starting line-up will be fresh for that mouth-watering clash with Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
Darren Fletcher is also expected to be available in midweek, although his involvement could be limited after two months out with a virus that caused significant weight loss.
Ferguson will doubtless pack his bench with key men such as Wayne Rooney tomorrow night, just in case a tie that could have been put well beyond Schalke last week takes an unexpected turn for the worse.
But, on the face of it, Chelsea present a far more formidable obstacle as even a draw would leave United requiring just four points from their final two matches, against relegation candidates Blackburn and Blackpool.
“Our destiny is still in our own hands,” emphasised Evra.
“We have two massive games coming up, against Schalke and Chelsea.
“We must focus on recovering for the Schalke game but we also know if we want to win the title we have to beat Chelsea. If we don’t beat them we are going to be in trouble. We don’t want to be in trouble.
“But I have to say, I am not worried.
“Against Arsenal, we did not do the things we normally do.
“Hopefully it was an accident because we have five games left. Every one is like a final. We need to win them all.”
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