Keane will be back to his best - Ferguson

 

Alex Ferguson believes Roy Keane will once again prove he is the best midfielder in the premier league when Manchester United face Arsenal in their potential title decider on Wednesday.

Keane was disappointing in United's 3-1 defeat at Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final first leg in Spain last week - a stage on which the Corkman usually displays his most determined performances.

But Ferguson says his captain was restrained by United's tactics and expects Keane to be back to his all-action best at Highbury on Wednesday.

"It (the criticism) was unfair because I played him in a position which was difficult for him," Ferguson told today's Manchester Evening News.

"Once he got into the battle in the second half he was much better. He needs to be in the battle but he is in the midstream of changing his game a little bit and he found it difficult in the first half.

"He needs to be in a fight, 'me against you'. The Arsenal game on Wednesday will suit him more because there will be battles all over the pitch."

Keane has adopted a new deeper role following hip surgery this season and has abandoned the box-to-box play that made him the most feared competitor in the premier league.

That has led critics to suggest he is no longer the dominant force he once was in United's midfield.

Keane was forced to come off in the 6-2 victory against Newcastle but Ferguson believes he will be fit for Wednesday's game.

"Roy should be OK. There is some bruising after a dead leg but hopefully he will be all right," Ferguson said.

Ferguson faces a selection headache as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Wes Brown all have hamstring strains while John O'Shea has a knee injury.

Goalkeeper Fabien Barthez will have a foot problem assessed today after stubbing his toe at Newcastle.

United lead Arsenal by three points in the standings but the defending champions have a game in hand on their rivals.