Manchester United Face Arsenal in an FA Cup Fourth Round Cracker
This Friday, Arsenal face Manchester United in the plum tie of the FA Cup Fourth Round. The Gunners and Red Devils are the two most successful teams in the history of the grand old tournament, both having made 20 appearances in the final, Arsenal landing 13 victories to Manchester United’s 12.
However, only one of these massive Premier League rivals can progress into the next round of the cup and potentially be two steps away from a Wembley semifinal date in April. With an audience of millions expected to tune in on TV thanks to the game being televised live, this should be a game that kicks your betting weekend off in style.
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The two teams have a rich history of some classic encounters and have even met twice before in the final of the competition. The first meeting was a classic match back in 1979, and saw Arsenal take a 2-0 lead, before United clawed it back to 2-2 with two very late goals. However, in the last minute of the game, Arsenal broke straight from the restart to score a last gasp winner through Alan Sunderland.
The next time the teams met was in May 2006 and this was a very different affair with the game finishing 0-0 at the end of full time and extra time. Penalties were required at the Millennium Stadium that day to decide the winner and Paul Scholes miss with United’s second penalty proved crucial as Arsenal netted all five of their penalties to claim another FA Cup Final victory.
Earlier this season, the teams were involved in a titanic tussle at Old Trafford, where Arsenal twice took the lead but were almost immediately pegged back by United in a game that finished in an entertaining 2-2 draw.
Since then though United have changed their manager, with Jose Mourinho sacked and replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has steered the team to seven wins in a row. Arsenal meanwhile saw their 23-game unbeaten run come to an end at Southampton and since then they have struggled for consistency, especially away from home.
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The Gunners have been in decent form at home for pretty much the whole of the season, with defeats only to Manchester City and Tottenham. However, recently their away form has not been the best and this lack of consistency on the road has seen them fall a little off he pace being set by the top four, although last weekend’s win over Chelsea has helped close the gap on their London rivals in fourth.
Their star man this season has been Aubameyang in attack, who has netted 16 goals in all competitions, but it his partner Alexander Lacazette who has been the most impressive of late, netting a superb strike in the win over Chelsea last weekend to highlight the fact.
Injuries will mean Arsenal miss four players for this game including ex Man Utd man Henrikh Mkhitaryan, while Bellerin, Holding and Welbeck (another former United man) are also ruled out.
Unai Emery has tended to play his strongest team when available for the big cup games this season and I think he will do likewise here, especially knowing that this trophy may be Arsenal’s best chance by far of landing some silverware. After that strong performance at home to Chelsea, I’d be surprised if Arsenal don’t name a similar line up.
Predicted Arsenal Team (4-4-2) – Leno, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Papasthatopoulos, Koscielny, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Torreira, Ramsey, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Current Form (last 10 games)
- V Chelsea (H) – W 2-0
- V West Ham (A) – L 0-1
- V Blackpool (A) – W 3-0 (FA Cup 3rd Round)
- V Fulham (H) – W 4-1
- V Liverpool (A) – L 1-5
- V Brighton (A) – D 1-1
- V Burnley (H) – W 3-1
- V Tottenham (H) – L 0-2 (Carabao Cup Quarterfinal)
- V Southampton (A) – L 2-3
- V Qarabag (H) – W 1-0 (Europa League Group Stage)
Played 10, Won 5, Drew – 1, Lost 4, Goals Scored – 17, Goals Conceded – 14
Last time out in the FA Cup, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chose to rotate some of his men around for the game with Reading and I think he will do likewise here, even though this is a much tougher game against an in form (at home) Arsenal side.
Romero will start once again in goal in place of De Gea as he does in the FA Cup, while I can see the more experienced Darmian coming in for Dalot. Mata, Sanchez and Lukaku will all likely get a start with Lingard, Martial and Pogba perhaps dropping to the bench.
Even without that trio, this is still an extremely strong Manchester United team and in the form that they have been in, Arsenal will be concerned that the Red Devils, who are now starting to get a few players back from injury, could well be in a good position to continue their excellent run of winning games.
Whether that is achieved on the night, or in a replay, if at all, will be decided on Friday.
Predicted Man Utd Team (4-3-3) – Romero, Darmian, Young, Jones, Lindelof, Matic, Herrera, Mata, Sanchez, Rashford, Lukaku
Current Form (last 10 games)
- V Brighton (H) – W 2-1
- V Tottenham (A) – W 1-0
- V Reading (H) – W 2-0 (FA Cup 3rd Round)
- V Newcastle (A) – W 2-0
- V Bournemouth (H) – W 4-1
- V Huddersfield (H) – W 3-1
- V Cardiff City (A) – W 5-1
- V Liverpool (A) – L 1-3
- V Valencia (A) – L 1-2
- V Fulham (H) – W 4-1
Played 10, Won 8, Drawn 0, Lost 2, Goals Scored – 25, Goals Conceded – 10.
Top Tips – Arsenal v Man Utd
Match Result – Draw – 5/2
Although this is always a very hard fought clash between these teams I think a draw is the most likely outcome. Arsenal rarely lose at home and when they do, it is generally to a top team and while United are that, I feel that the Gunners will have the stronger and more settled team playing. That said, United are playing with such confidence at the moment that I feel they will still get something from the game, hence a draw seems the logical option.
Correct Score – Arsenal 1-1 Man Utd – 6/1
In terms of the correct score, I am ruling out a goalless draw as I think both teams are too attack minded for that to happen and while 2-2 is a possibility and was the score when the teams met at Old Trafford earlier this season, I feel 1-1 is the most likely scoreline.