Monday 9th March – 19:45 – Old Trafford
A place at Wembley awaits the winner as Manchester United host Arsenal in a scintillating FA Cup quarter-final tie. This is realistically both teams’ last chance of silverware this season, with United out of contention on all fronts and Arsenal only hanging on by a thread in the Champions League, where they find themselves 3-1 down after their first leg with Monaco. In the Premier League the clubs sit fourth and third respectively, and both were victorious away from home in midweek, with United leaving it late to win 1-0 at Newcastle, whilst Arsene Wenger’s side were 2-1 victors at QPR. So far in the FA Cup this season, the reigning champions have overcome Hull City, Brighton and Middlesborough, to make it through to their 11th quarter-final under Arsene Wenger. The Red Devils have beaten meanwhile have beaten Yeovil, Cambridge and Preston to reach this stage, making this game their first against Premier League opposition. These two sides are the joint most successful clubs in FA Cup history with 11 trophies, but only one can go a step closer to making that tally 12.
The Key Battle: Wayne Rooney vs Laurent Koscielny
Manchester United skipper Wayne Rooney admits he is desperate to lift the FA Cup, the one major trophy which has so far eluded him.
The Englishman could have a key part to play if The Red Devils are to go all the way, especially at the moment, with Robin van Persie injured, meaning Rooney has gone back to playing up front.
He scored twice last weekend, and also scored in round five of the FA Cup against Preston. Add this to the fact that he has scored more goals against Arsenal than any other player in Premier League history (11) and has found the net in all three of his FA Cup appearances against Arsenal, and you get the feeling that Rooney is the danger man for the hosts.
The player whose task it will be to stop the danger is Laurent Koscielny, who should start the game following Gabriel’s hamstring injury.
Even as players have been rotated around him, the French defender has been virtually an ever present in the Arsenal back four this season.
Koscielny is also a goal threat, scoring on three occasions this season, whilst he also hit the back of the net in last season’s FA Cup final, as Arsenal came back to win the trophy.
- Striker Robin van Persie will miss the clash against his former club due to his ankle injury.
- Jonny Evans has been handed a six match ban for spitting on Papiss Cisse during United’s game at Newcastle on Wednesday.
- Luke Shaw is a doubt with a hamstring injury, but Falcao, who was benched for the trip to Tyneside could return to the starting line-up.
- Defender Gabriel has been ruled out with a hamstring injury which is expected to sideline him for up to three weeks.
- Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny faces a fitness test following illness after missing the win at QPR, as does defender Nacho Monreal (back) and Mathieu Flamini (hamstring).
- Midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle), Mikel Arteta (ankle), Abou Diaby (calf) and Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder) are all out as they continue their recovery.
Manchester United wins = 88 / Arsenal wins = 73 / Draws = 48
Last Meeting: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United (22nd November 2014)
Louis van Gaal clinched his first away win as Manchester United manager as a battling display saw off Arsenal and moved his side up to fourth in the Premier League. After long spells of dominance by the Gunners, Kieran Gibbs turned Antonio Valencia’s cross into his own net before Wayne Rooney sealed victory with his side’s first shot on target after 85 minutes. Olivier Giroud came off the bench after three months out injured to pull a goal back for the hosts with a fierce strike in stoppage time, but it came far too late to rescue a point.
Stat of the Match
Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four FA Cup games against Arsenal.
Where can I watch it?
BBC One are showing the game live on Monday evening from 7:30pm, with kick-off 15 minutes later.
My Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
This is a competition that both sides really want to win, so should really go for it in an entertaining tie. Home advantage could prove crucial though, with Wayne Rooney on form in this competition, so I expect him to score one for United. The Red Devils’ other could come from Falcao, whilst I think Santi Cazorla will hit the back of the net for Arsenal.