Silvestre puts friendships aside
Mikael Silvestre will put friendships to one side when he faces Man Utd in the Champions League.
By Richard Bailey
Last Updated: 16/04/09 8:26pm
Mikael Silvestre is willing to put friendships to one side when Arsenal face his former club Manchester United in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
The 31-year-old spent nine years at Old Trafford prior to joining the Gunners on a free transfer in the summer.
Arsenal booked their place in the last four with a resounding 3-0 win over Villarreal at Emirates Stadium to win the tie 4-1 on aggregate.
Meanwhile, the holders defeated Porto 1-0 away to edge their tie 3-2 over the two legs to set up a mouth watering semi-final showdown.
"I still have got a lot of friends (at United), but it's part of the competition," he said.
"You go to a match and you want to fight, no matter who you play against."
The Frenchman was the first player since Brian Kidd in 1974 to transfer between the two clubs and the first leg on April 29th will be the first time he will have returned to the Theatre of Dreams.
"You have to fight even if it's your best friend in front of you," he continued.
"When you have to tackle, to win the ball, when you have to play the challenges, you fight for your club and you forget everything else."
Silvestre, who made 361 appearances for United since signing in September 1999, admits that despite the rivalry, he can see similarities between the two giants.
"Arsenal and Manchester United are two very similar clubs," he added.
"They have the best players, the best managers, the best facilities, the best stadiums and they always play attacking football whatever happens."
The defender was also unsurprised by the fact that Premier League clubs have once again dominated the latter stages of the Champions League ,with England providing three of the four semi-final teams for the third season in a row.
"Practically three quarters of the world's best players are in the Premier League," he explained.
"And with the money they have, it's easier to find the players. It's 100 per cent sports business.
"They live their passion, give themselves the means to succeed and have taken away hooliganism from the stadiums.
"It's a flagship league, whose quality has improved a lot. I think the presence of foreign managers is one of the key parts of their success."