Current FA Cup holders Arsenal travel to Old Trafford on Monday night to the home of Manchester United, the only other side with eleven FA Cup wins.
Whoever gets through quarter-final will be just two wins away from being crowned the outright kings of the FA Cup.
With a place at Wembley up for grabs, the winner of this one will fancy their chances at claiming the famous old trophy for the twelfth time in May. If one of these sides manages that, they’ll be the most successful side in the history of the competition.
Nine years have passed since Arsenal won at Old Trafford.
Since then the rivalry has lost some of its spark as Arsenal, and more recently Manchester United, have fallen from the summit of English football.
The FA Cup provides the best opportunity for fans from one of these clubs to be celebrating come May, and won’t be taken lightly by either manager. Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger was bullish by his own standards on Friday morning regarding our recent record against Manchester United:
“I don’t believe too much in history. At the moment we are doing very well away from the home so it’ll be down to our effort.”
Wenger, with a proud record in this competition, wants another success this year:
“We are the holders of the FA Cup and we want to keep it.”
Gabriel Paulista, who came off in midweek, will miss a few weeks with a hamstring issue. Aaron Ramsey may be ready to start, while Mathieu Flamini is back in the squad. Wenger’s biggest decision will be whether or not to change anything in midfield and if he can find a place for ex-Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck in his eleven.
In his press conference the Arsenal manager hailed Welbeck as an “exceptional footballer who will have a great future here.”
Wojciech Szczęsny will play if he passed the test he had on Friday, he missed the game at QPR in midweek due to illness. Nacho Monreal also faces a race to be fit, and could reclaim the left-back spot ahead of Kieran Gibbs.
Possible XI: Szczęsny; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Welbeck, Özil, Alexis; Giroud.
It’s been a strange season for Manchester United.
Expected to do much better after appointing Louis van Gaal and spending around £150M in the summer, United’s results haven’t been bad. They find themselves still in the hunt for a top four finish, yet that is despite – not because of – their level of performance.
The system, or ‘philosophy’, that van Gaal wants to put in place is unclear.
The formation has changed a lot but lately he has settled on using four defenders rather than five. With Robin van Persie injured and Radamel Falcao unable to buy a goal, let alone a good performance, Wayne Rooney will likely play up front in a 4-5-1.
The system led to a win over Newcastle in midweek but another unconvincing performance. If Manchester United look to keep the ball but move it slowly again then Arsenal will be laughing. At home this is possible, though van Gaal would probably prefer a more defensive approach against the talent we have at our disposal.
Jonny Evans is banned after a spitting incident with Papiss Cissé, and Ander Herrera is set to keep his place after impressing when afforded the opportunity to start.
Possible XI: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Rojo; Di Maria, Herrera, Fellaini, Blind, Young; Rooney.
Arsenal’s recent record against Manchester United, particularly at Old Trafford, is lamentable.
Worse than that, it’s actually pretty embarrassing.
For a number of years Manchester United had some quality players as well as a manager who could get the best out of a team, especially on a big occasion.
Now they are looking a bit light in both of those departments.
Despite bad form the likes of Di Maria could threaten any defence in the world, and Arsenal will have to be on their guard. Going forward we could seriously do some damage to their rearguard.
It’s time to change our fortunes against Manchester United.
I’d love it to be Danny Welbeck wheeling away from the Stretford End on Monday night but I’m not picky, I don’t care how it happens, I just want a win.
Let’s retain our cup.
WHAT DID SHE WEAR?