The FA Cup’s two most successful clubs meet in an intriguing clash on Monday evening as Manchester United and Arsenal vie to reach the semi-finals of this season’s competition.
It is a game that brings back memories of previous cup meetings between the sides, but United have the psychological advantage of not having lost to Arsenal at Old Trafford since 2006. Meanwhile, their home record is also strong, with the 2-0 win over Sunderland last time out meaning they have lost just twice on their own turf under Louis van Gaal.
That is despite their performances coming under hefty scrutiny, with high profile summer signings Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao continuing to underachieve. Instead it is another one of van Gaal’s acquisitions, Daley Blind, who could hold the key to winning this match.
The former Ajax star will be expected to prevent an often shaky back four from being exposed to the pace and creativity that Arsenal’s forward players possess in abundance. Some questions are still being asked about Mesut Ozil, but Alexis Sanchez ended his mini goal drought against Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday and will be determined to move closer to winning a trophy in his first season in England.
This looks set to be a close game, with the two sides separated by just one point in the Premier League table, but with the attacking riches available to both sides, an open encounter can be expected. The spotlight will be on both defences as a result of the criticism aimed their way this season.
Jonathan Evans begins a six-match ban and is missing for Man Utd alongside Robin van Persie. Arsenal are without defender Gabriel Paulista with a hamstring problem, while Wojciech Szczesny is likely to take the place of David Ospina in goal.
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