The FA Cup’s two most successful clubs go head to head on Friday as 13-time winners Arsenal host 12-time victors Manchester United in a huge fourth round clash at the Emirates Stadium.
Both sides head into the colossal encounter on a high after recent triumphs. The Gunners recorded a huge 2-0 win at home to Chelsea in the Premier League on Saturday, whilst United’s revival under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rolled on with a 2-1 victory over Huddersfield.
Those victories kept both sides level on points in fifth and sixth place respectively in the league table, just three points behind Chelsea in fourth, with both sides making renewed pushes for the all-important Champions League spots.
However, the FA Cup will take centre stage for both sides in the latest instalment of one of English football’s most famous rivalries.
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When Is Kick Off?
Friday 25 January
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Arsenal are without Hector Bellerin’s after the Spaniard was stretchered off during the Gunners’ win over Chelsea on Saturday with a cruciate injury in the latest blow to Unai Emery’s defensive ranks.
Meanwhile, the club have confirmed that former United playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan is being integrated back into full training ahead of the game, though Friday could come too soon for the Armenian to face his old side.
Former Red Devils forward Danny Welbeck and defender Rob Holding remain long-term absentees for Arsenal.
United, meanwhile, remain without injured midfielder Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian continues to recover from a calf strain which has ruled him out until next month.
Defenders Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo have returned to full training for Solskjaer’s side, though Friday’s trip to the Emirates could come too soon for the duo to make a return to the starting lineup.
Alexis Sanchez has completed a successful week of full training and is in line to return in attack for United to face his old side.
Cech; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Mavropanos, Monreal; Elneny, Guendouzi; Maitland-Niles, Ozil, Iwobi; Lacazette
Romero; Darmian, Bailly, Jones, Dalot; Herrera, Pereira; Mata, Lingard, Sanchez; Lukaku
Head to Head Record
United boast a superior record over Arsenal from their 228 previous meetings, with the Red Devils edging 98 wins over their old rivals, compared to the Gunners’ 82 successes during the two sides’ renowned rivalry.
A 2-2 draw last time out was reflective of the minimal difference between the two sides this season, with Solskjaer’s men having drawn level on points with Arsenal in the league table, and there was nothing between the teams when they met at Old Trafford last month.
Arsenal succumbed to a 2-1 defeat away to the Red Devils at the back end of last season as Arsene Wenger’s reign as the Gunners’ manager drew to a close, with the Londoners having failed to beat United since a 2-0 win at the Emirates in May 2017.
Arsenal have experienced a mixed bag of results of late as the Gunners’ early season consistency under Unai Emery has begun to unravel, though Saturday’s derby win over Chelsea has steadied the ship at the Emirates once more.
United, meanwhile, have enjoyed a dramatic upturn in form since appointing Solskjaer as interim manager to succeed Jose Mourinho, with the Red Devils having won all seven of their games since the Norwegian took charge.
Here is a look at how both sides have fared in their previous five outings:
Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea
Manchester United 2-1 Brighton
West Ham 1-0 Arsenal
Tottenham 0-1 Manchester United
Blackpool 0-3 Arsenal
Manchester United 2-0 Reading
Arsenal 4-1 Fulham
Newcastle 0-2 Manchester United
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal
Manchester United 4-1 Bournemouth
Both sides head into Friday’s match with confidence at a high after recent results and the match should provide an entertaining encounter.
Solskjaer’s influence has brought stability to his United side, compared to an Arsenal outfit which has been less consistent in recent weeks under Emery.
However, Arsenal displayed in their win over Chelsea that they are a strong side at home, though United’s revitalised attacking threat may provide a stronger test for the Gunners. A replay could well be on the cards in this tie, with both sides looking strong.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United