Sir Alex Ferguson has pledged to make wholesale changes to his Manchester United line-up for Saturday's Premier League trip to Middlesbrough.
United will take a 1-0 lead to Arsenal for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final next Tuesday knowing they must get through a lunchtime league encounter first. Ferguson will make up to eight changes against struggling Boro, given Rio Ferdinand is also a major doubt with a rib injury.
"I do not think it is right that we have a lunchtime kick-off at Middlesbrough," he reflected. "Obviously I will bring some freshness into the team. The defence will be the same, apart from Rio but the midfield and forwards could change completely."
Ferguson feels the one big advantage Arsenal have is their lack of a pressing need for points at Portsmouth on Saturday, whereas his own team require victory to maintain their lead at the Premier League summit.
"They can play Pat Rice at right-back and Arsene himself at centre-forward on Saturday," said Ferguson. "We have to play a team to win the game."
Ferguson feels Wenger will be a relieved man that his side are not out of the tie already such was United's dominance.
Arsenal are still in with a chance thanks to the heroics of Manuel Almunia, who pulled off a string of fine saves. Cristiano Ronaldo also smashed a shot against the crossbar, while Ryan Giggs had a goal ruled out for a debatable offside decision.
However, John O'Shea did find the net with a smart 17th-minute finish that he dedicated to his father, who has been battling back after a recent illness.
"John O'Shea took the goal really well," said Ferguson. "He is a great professional.
"The boy never complains. He is happy to play anywhere. He has not always been a number-one choice but he produces 30 performances a season and it is a contribution we are grateful for."
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