Early Doors

Roll up! The circus is in town!

Early Doors

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Even as it watched from its dank, sordid little grief-hole yesterday, Early Doors couldn't but feel a little sorry for David Beckham.

The Milan, England and sometime LA Galaxy midfielder looked lost at sea as footage of his arrival at Manchester Paul Calf Airport came through.

Watching him flanked by police as he slowly made his way through the fevered scrum that greeted him was a little window into the circus that constantly surrounds him.

Alex Ferguson must have enjoyed watching it. It was a reminder of just why he was so relieved to sell him in the first place.

Beckham may be making an emotional return to the scene of many of his former glories this evening, for the first time in seven years as a club player, but all the hype around his arrival is at odds with his likely effect on the match.

Of course, there is a chance he will make a telling effect, but United's 3-2 aggregate lead from the first leg at the San Siro makes a fairytale return a real challenge.

After giving Becks a surprise start in the first leg, Leonardo has been coy as to whether or not he will do so again tonight, instead simply paying glowing tribute to his on-loan midfielder.

Leonardo said: "When we saw the draw, we knew it would be an unbelievable situation for him. But, knowing David, and his attitude, I am sure he can cope. Independent of that, he is very important for the group as a whole and we are always grateful for his presence."

It sounds as though the Brazilian coach thinks the best way for him to serve the group as a whole is by starting on the bench.

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Arsenal will be waiting for United in the quarter-final draw after their resounding 5-0 win over Porto last night.

Nicklas Bendtner scored a hat-trick in the drubbing of the Portuguese side at the Emirates. After a shameful catalogue of misses at the weekend against Burnley, Bendtner came in for a deserved hammering from the press. However, The Sun was moved to print a back-page apology to the Dane following last night's performance. And it's not like The Sun to do an about-face and throw its weight behind a cause it had previously derided... is it?

Arsene Wenger risked getting egg on his face before the match by insisting that the absence of Cesc Fabregas would be no excuse if Arsenal failed to overturn their first-leg deficit, but in the end the Gunners skipper was not missed one jot.

Sure, Porto are like snap-happy tourists whenever they make a trip to London, bumbling around, seemingly looking at everything other than what's right in front of them, but Arsenal passed their sans-Cesc test with aplomb.

Fabregas has either scored or created over a third of Arsenal's league goals this season, but Samir Nasri stepped into his shoes to great effect, scoring a wonderful goal after skipping through three Porto defenders who were all fumbling around with oversized maps and working out how to use their oyster cards.    

It's easy to forget just how young the likes of Bendtner (22), Nasri (22), Theo Walcott (21 next week) and even Fabregas (22) are.

Far be it for ED to attempt a reactionary overnight volte-face that even The Sun would be proud of, but with a good title run-in and perhaps even Robin van Persie returning for the last few games of the season, Wenger may finally be about to see his next generation blossom.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I am really happy at Tottenham but I will continue working for a future move to a bigger club. I would love to play for Real Madrid. Today, many people respect me in England. That's because of my hard-working attitude." - and for your previous ability to keep quiet on your ambitions, Wilson Palacios.

FOREIGN VIEW: "A two-game ban and 10,000 euro fine were given to Lazio player Mauro Zarate after he expressed insulting comments to the referee following his red card on 32 minutes, and for having challenged the decision with an excessive attitude." - Steven Gerrard would have fallen foul of the authorities had he played in Serie A, where players are also now being punished for blasphemy in a new, hard-line disciplinary policy. Not sure about the second part, but wouldn't it be nice if the Premier League launched some kind of initiative in order to promote respect towards officials and their decisions. Oh.

COMING UP: In a number conundrum that Clarke Carlisle would struggle with, this evening brings with it Matchnight Two of the second legs in the fourth week of the last 16. Anyway, that means that there will be live text commentary of Manchester United v Milan and Real Madrid v Lyon. And if that's not enough for you then Burnley v Stoke City brings week whatever of the Premier League to a close. There's also scoring of Reading v Derby in the Championship and Bordeaux v Auxerre in Ligue 1. Bet on any of these matches at Eurosport Bet.

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