A classic tie at Old Trafford gives a chance for Arsenal to end a terrible run against an old enemy in Manchester United.
A night to forget against Monaco has put real pressure on the Gunners to keep silverware a possibility in what has been a stop start season by all accounts.
Different Game to City
The Gunners will take heart from their latest trip to the North West, with many claiming Arsenal had turned a corner, dispelling their reputation as a team who can’t deliver on the big stage as they recorded a hugely impressive and comfortable 2-0 win over the champions Manchester City.
However, defeats have followed in arguably bigger games against Tottenham and Monaco, where Arsenal had gone in as favourites and failed to deliver when it really mattered and was expected of them.
A retention of the FA cup and victory against United would help put to bed a lot of the doubt that has been allowed to creep in since that victory at the Etihad which now seems an age ago.
Despite the strange form and style of Louis Van Gaal’s red army this season, this will prove a much harder test than at the Etihad with these two clubs set for their biggest game in years.
With no European football this year and an ongoing outcry of criticism on style and performance, Manchester United will want to give their fans some glory and what a game it would be for their power packing frontmen to finally deliver on their talent. Expect this one to be fast and furious.
There was once a title challenge…
It seems an age ago now that Arsenal and United were the two top dogs. First it was Arsenal to fall from grace as Chelsea’s riches and a certain Jose Mourinho changed the dynamic of the Premier League arriving in 2004. Arsenal last won the Premier League in the 2003/2004 season.
Alex Ferguson kept his team in the mix, performing what at the time seemed like what was expected, winning five titles since 2004. It now looks nothing short of miracles. Manchester United have now joined Arsenal in looking up nervously at Chelsea and Manchester City, wondering how they can keep up and reclaim their throne.
But this will all be forgotten as both teams will line up in what is the only realistic chance for silverware this season. That sentence would be treated with disdain ten years ago but this is the sign of the times. Both teams are under huge pressure to win the trophy.
It is time
The contest between Arsenal and Manchester United in November was a truly unbelievable yet typical Arsenal performance. If there was templates for Arsenal match reports, this would come under the ‘dominated but didn’t convert chances, conceded on the counter attack’ category. Classic.
In what was possibly the worst United performance at the Emirates, Arsenal yet again failed to register a win against their old foes. Roy Hodgson drew the balls to give them the perfect chance to put that right. However, if Arsenal lose this cup match, there really is no result this season that would make up for it (apart from a Champions League… now let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
This is the ‘must win game’ of must win games. The North London derby is gone. A win against either Chelsea or Liverpool would not make up for going out of the cup.
This is real pressure and real consequences. If Arsenal are eliminated now the season will be over for the fans (Yes I haven’t forgot about the Champions League…). It is so much more than the three points you achieve for a league win.
Many will claim that Arsenal are a better side than Manchester United. The only way they can prove that is if they now go and knock them out of the cup on their turf. If they do not, they are not better than them. No matter how much possession is had, how many saves are made or miles are ran, you have to win the pressure games to prove yourselves. This is it.
Save the Season
One point out of six has been taken from Tottenham this season. Arsenal have spent most of the league campaign chasing Southampton. The league position looks healthy currently, but only in the context of finishing in the top four. Arsenal have a squad capable of much better.
The occasional rout against weak opposition or a glimmer of hope against the weakened Champions is not enough to fool many of the Arsenal faithful. This season has been a disappointment so far but there is hope.
Arsenal you must end the hoodoo. You must beat Manchester United and reach the final of the cup. That is all.