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Manchester United v Arsenal FA Cup Preview Match, March 12, 2011

Saturday, March 12, 2011

 Manchester United and Arsenal will both look to redeem some confidence and pride after a disappointing last few weeks when they face off against each other at Old Trafford on Saturday. The Red Devils will be looking to bounce back from their abominable performance at Anfield last weekend against arch-rivals Liverpool, where they were handed a thrashing, that game their second defeat on the bounce after their away loss at the hands of Chelsea. Arsenal, on the other hand, were dealt with a double blow in quick succession, as they were beaten by Birmingham in the Carling Cup final and bowed out of the Champions League after recieving a thumping at the Nou Camp, not for the first time in recent years.





With the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool out of the FA Cup already, the winner of this tie becomes huge favourites to lift the cup, along with Manchester City, who play Championship side Reading in their quarterfinal match on Sunday. The two teams in question faced each other once already this season at Old Trafford, with Manchester United winning that Premier League game 1-0 courtesy of a Ji Sung Park strike.

Manchester United:

The Premier League leaders play their third consecutive 'big match' this weekend, after their trips to Chelsea and Liverpool last week. The Red Devils didn't fare too well in either game, earning losses in both. They will be thankful that the draw has been kinder to them, with the match being played out at Old Trafford and not the Emirates. They had to face Crawley Town in the last round of the FA Cup, a match in which they struggled to make their superiority felt over the non-league side. They laboured to a 1-0 win, and will need a better performance from that day to beat Arsenal.

Antonio Valencia has not played since September, but is likely to make the teamsheet this weekend, after having travelled with the team last week. That will be a huge boost for Sir Alex Ferguson, who will be missing Nani through injury, after the Portugese winger was hacked down by Jamie Carragher, tearing a tendon on his left leg. A huge relief for United will be the return of captain Nemanja Vidic, who missed the Liverpool game through suspension. Rio Ferdinand is also on the comeback trail, but the Arsenal game might be too early for him.

United face another crucial game in three days' time after facing the Gunners, as they host Marseille in the second leg of their Champions League round of sixteen tie precariously placed at 0-0. Sir Alex's squad selection may have a lot to do with players he wants to keep fresh for the Marseille game, and it would be no surprise if some fringe squad members get the nod for Saturday. Following that, they will stay at home, facing Bolton Wanderers in their third home game in succession.

Arsenal :

Till a fortnight back, Arsenal were vying for all four major honours this season. Now they face a tough trip to Manchester, where a defeat will see their chances to win their first piece of silverware since 2005 reduce to a fourth of what it was eleven days back. While Arsenal have largely played good football this season, luck has refused to be a lady on their side. Their Carling Cup final defeat came from a miscommunication in defence that happens once in a couple of hundred games, while Robin van Persie's sending off when they were leading 3-2 on aggregate against Barcelona was ludicrous to say the least.

Their tale of woe doesn't end there, had it not been for a missed penalty by Tomas Rosicky early in the season against Sunderland or the sending off of Abou Diaby in the Newcastle game where they led 4-0, Arsenal would be top of the Premier League right now. The Gunners will be desperately hoping that the football gods stop dealing them poor cards and if not at least smile on them, just stop interferring in their games. The truth in football like in life is however that you need to make your own luck and its time for Arsenal to forget about the past and start playing some football in a way only they can.

Captain Cesc Fabregas will miss the tie after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring problem, joining the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Song and Thomas Vermaelen on the treatment table. Striker Robin van Persie will be available to play the game, but may not be risked from the start. In fact, it would be surprising if a large number of the first eleven who started against Barcelona feature at Old Trafford.

Head to Head :

13 Dec '10 : Manchester United 1 - 0 Arsenal
31 Jan '10 : Arsenal 1 - 3 Manchester United

Form Guide :

Manchester United (LLWDW)

6 Mar '11 : Liverpool 3 - 1 Manchester United
1 Mar '11 : Chelsea 2 - 1 Manchester United
26 Feb '11 : Wigan Athletic 0 - 4 Manchester United
23 Feb '11 : Olympique Marseille 0 - 0 Manchester United (Champions League)
19 Feb '11 : Manchester United 1 - 0 Crawley Town (FA Cup)

Arsenal (LDWLW)

8 Mar '11 : Barcelona 3 - 1 Arsenal (Champions League)
5 Mar '11 : Arsenal 0 - 0 Sunderland
2 Mar '11 : Arsenal 5 - 0 Leyton Orient (FA Cup)
27 Feb '11 : Arsenal 1 - 2 Birmingham City (Carling Cup)
23 Feb '11 : Arsenal 1 - 0 Stoke City

11/03/2011 17:34, Report by Max Liu, Betfair

Betting: Arsenal

Odds correct at time of writing. For latest Betfair prices, see www.manutd.com/bet .
United head into Saturday’s quarter-final against Arsenal as 3.4 (12/5) FA Cup favourites. The Reds haven’t won the competition since 2004 but it’s recent form that might stop some bettors backing Sir Alex's men to win this one at 2.0 (evens).
At Anfield, United were outplayed and out-muscled but the Reds are strong enough and smart enough to move on from two consecutive defeats. This is where a good memory comes in: two years ago United lost two in a row at this stage of the season and went on to win the title. Sir Alex knows how to move on from disappointments and that’s why we’re backing the Reds for the Premier League at 1.82 (4/5).
This weekend, though, it's all about the FA Cup and you should back the Reds to beat Arsenal. Anything above odds-on for a win at Old Trafford should always be snapped up. We’re not taking Arsenal lightly but they haven’t won at the Theatre of Dreams for nearly five years and last time they travelled to M16 in this competition they lost 4-0.
The Gunners aren’t coming into this tie in good spirits, either, having been humiliated by Barcelona in midweek. Cesc

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