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FA Cup Preview: Man Utd v Arsenal

Today is a big game in terms of the rivalry the two sides have had for the good part of the last decade, but surprisingly, and thankfully, there isn’t the over the board hype surrounding the fixture as has normally been the case in United-Arsenal fixtures. Maybe it’s because it’s the BBC that is showing the game and not Sky. Or maybe it’s the FA Cup itself, which has dwindled in importance and relevance for many Premiership clubs over the years. Who knows!

The managers have also decided to be a little low key in the build up to the game. Arsene Wenger has good reasons as well to be cautious about the fixture as he’s got a host of injuries to deal with. However, I think as long as they have a midfield containing Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb, and a strike force that has Adebayor, they are always going to be a threat. I personally don’t rate Adebayor as much as I would rate van Persie — who, by the way, is an outstanding player — but his aerial presence presents an awkward proposition for our defence. Eduardo seems to have a clinical efficiency about him that might again help their cause, but it is the centre of the park that would decide the game.

And for once, SAF has to get it right as far as midfield combinations go.

We don’t have any major injury concerns. Yes, there is talk of Saha making a return, but we all know that any playing time he would give us could only be termed a bonus. Rooney and Evra return from suspension, which is a good thing to hear. Rooney has been under a lot of heat lately, over his ‘poor form’. While it is reasonable for fans to worry about his lack of goals lately, I think some of the criticism he’s been getting is either unfair or downright ridiculous.

Crucially we have a game in midweek against Lyon, while the Gooners play Milan, so there has also been talk of managers fiddling around a bit with their line-ups.

I have mixed feelings about today’s fixture. On one hand, a victory could be good as we can get the psychological edge and head over to the next round with renewed confidence at the same time, however, ending up playing more games. On the other hand, a defeat would relieve us from the FA Cup and let us concentrate on the League while leaving the Gunners to compete in the cup. Either way the last thing I, and I am sure many Gunners, would want is a draw and a replay.

While United-Arsenal fixtures usually throw up good contests, I have a feeling that today one would have to be prepared for a session of attritional football.

Prediction: 2-1 to United