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Sir Alex Ferguson is bracing his troops for a backlash from Arsenal after Manchester United hammered them 8-2.

The battering at Old Trafford in August was one of the jaw-dropping results in the history of the Barclays Premier League.

Arsenal simply had no way of holding back the tide as United’s second-half show propelled them to a remarkable victory.

The two sides are pitted together in the return league fixture on Sunday and Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will undoubtedly be out for revenge.

And Ferguson, whose side are attempting to close down leaders Manchester City at the summit, has warned his players of a backlash.

Speaking at his Friday morning press conference, he said: ‘Sunday’s game is the start of a hectic spell for us. I hope we come through the programme well because it could decide a lot of the season.

‘It’s always a hard game with Arsenal and it should be a good one. They recovered well from the 8-2, had a really good spell and qualified for the next stage of the Champions League.

‘They’ve had to contend with some injuries to defenders, particularly their two regular full-backs – [Bacary] Sagna and [Kieran] Gibbs have both been injured for quite a while now and

they’ve had to contend with that which isn’t easy. I think they’ve equipped themselves well.

‘Revenge? It has never been part of my career to think about it. It just doesn’t apply itself to me but maybe others do. Everyone’s different in that way.

‘I certainly don’t think the game will be as open as Old Trafford earlier in the season. It will be a difficult game. They’ve only lost six goals at home this season so we’re well aware it will be a hard game.

Ferguson may well come up against Thierry Henry once more, if the striker manages to shake off a calf injury.

The Arsenal legend is back at the club on a short-term loan deal from New York Bulls and scored an unforgettable winner against United in 2000 by lashing home from 25 yards.

Ferguson said: ‘There was talk about him coming back last January and it didn’t happen. But to me there are no negatives, just like us bringing back Paul Scholes.

‘When I saw them erecting the statue of Henry I thought that will be a nice lead-in to bringing him back for a short spell.

‘You saw how the fans reacted when he scored the goal against Leeds [in the FA Cup] – it was fantastic. He’s still a great player and the players in the dressing room will be motivated to play with one of Arsenal’s greats.’

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