Manchester United Vs Arsenal, Sun 28 Aug 2011

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Football News

Jonny Evans looked across at his central defensive partner on Monday night and struggled to remind himself he was a teenager.

Phil Jones has made such an impression at Manchester United since his #18million summer move from Blackburn that he is already being touted as a possible member of England's Euro 2012 squad.

Making his first Premier League start earlier this week, Jones performed like a veteran.

Happy to bring the ball out of defence, solid in the tackle and not afraid to make his opinions known, little wonder Evans felt Tottenham were taking on someone far older than 19.

"Phil was outstanding," said the Northern Ireland international. "It is hard to believe he is only 19.

"He has shown a lot of confidence, has a great physical presence you don't get in many players of his age, is quick and has great ability on the ball.

"He has settled in really well, just like Ashley Young and David de Gea.

"You don't have to go out of your way to help them. It seems like they have already been here for a really long time."

It also emboldens them when it comes to on-pitch interaction.

One of the reasons Ferguson tried to sign Jones in the first place was the positive impression the teenager gave in November when he tried to cajole greater effort from a Blackburn side on the end of a 7-1 hammering.

That mentality remains, which Evans feels fits in perfectly within a United squad where open dialogue is one of its main strengths.

"There are not many in our team who are shy and won't say anything," he said.

"If someone has a go, people won't just sit back and take it.

"That is a good thing. It is like that in training.

"We have a good team spirit here. The lads always get involved with each other. Even with the foreign lads, there are no barriers or groups.

"You can have a chat with anyone, so if there is something going on on the pitch, you are not afraid to respond."

Not that Evans is naive enough to belief life will always be so comfortable.

Indeed, as he looks ahead to Sunday's clash with Arsenal, the 23-year-old accepts a fall is probably inevitable at some stage.

"Expectation has gone through the roof," he said.

"You don't want people to get carried away and go over the top but that is what happens.

"We have to live with that. If the young lads do play on Sunday, I am sure it will be a really tough game.

"If we don't win, they will be shooting us down already."

Arsene Wenger believes the starting pistol fires on Arsenal's season when they run out at Old Trafford.

So far the Gunners have earned one point from two Barclays Premier League matches following a goalless draw against Newcastle and a home defeat by Liverpool.

While they qualified for the group stages of the Champions League with victory against Udinese in midweek, Wenger insists the protracted sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri were to blame for an uncharacteristically sluggish start to the campaign.

Asked if the clash with United felt like a chance to make a fresh beginning, he said: "A little bit. We had that cloud over our heads with the Champions League.

"It was a difficult summer for us because the negotiations (over Fabregas and Nasri) lasted longer because the decisions were very difficult to make.

"The club was completely questioned by everybody but I am confident we will have a good season."

Wenger admitted that it had been tough shouldering the burden of criticism as two of the club's most influential players were allowed to leave.

He said: "It is easier to win cups and be unbeaten than to be questioned like that, but it is part of my job. I find it very challenging as well.

"What has changed is the financial resources of some clubs have become so much bigger that it is more challenging and more difficult for us to keep our best players."

It has not been easy coping with a lengthy string of injuries which sees Jack Wilshere, Sebastien Squillaci, Kieran Gibbs, Abou Diaby and Nicklas Bendtner all unavailable for Sunday's game.

Defender Thomas Vermaelen was due to undergo a fitness test today but is expected to play, and Laurent Koscielny came through an examination on his back problem yesterday.

Even so Wenger has also to cope with the absence of Alex Song, Emmanuel Frimpong and the exciting Gervinho, who are all suspended.

"I have enough bodies," said Wenger. "The answer I have to find is the right players in the right place. In some areas we are short."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Kieran Gibbs
Thomas Vermaelen
Sebastien Squillaci
Phil Jones
Premier League
Emmanuel Frimpong
Manchester United
Ashley Young
Jack Wilshere
Laurent Koscielny
Jonny Evans
Nicklas Bendtner
Samir Nasri

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