It is the 230th meeting between the Gunners and the Red Devils and the occasion is the quest for the 2019 FA Cup. Arsenals have won this famous trophy 13 times while both teams have the record of most appearances in the final – 20.
Both are also tied on the same points in the English Premier League, though United have the greater momentum with seven consecutive wins in all competitions and confidence restored after Jose Mourinho was sacked and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was handed the reins on a temporary basis.
Solksjaer expressed a ‘wow’ feeling when he saw the draw. “When you get the draw and you see that it’s Arsenal, it’s one of those ‘wow’ moments.”
With the very good start to his time and the great results that have been borne, many are already saying United have found another Alex Ferguson.
The Arsenal team went paintballing on Monday as Emery tries to build a more united squad and that must be an addition after the confidence-inducing 2-0 victory over Chelsea last Sunday. He will be hoping to paint the Emirates in Arsenal red after Friday’s match.
Three duels to watch
Aaron Ramsey v Ander Herrera
Ramsey did a fantastic job on Jorginho in Arsenal’s last encounter and it is believed he could be assigned such a task again but this time against a more mobile Herrera.
Since Solksjaer took over at Old Trafford, Herrera has played more minutes as a box-to-box deep-lying midfielder while United’s play has become more progressive and result-oriented. Ramsey can also be dynamic, and shorn of major defensive duties will threaten the opposition with late runs into the box, one Herrera will likely be tasked to negate.
Lucas Torreira v Paul Pogba
The physical difference is staggering but Torreira for his pint size is large in effort and tigerish tenacity in dispossessing his opponent of the ball.
Pogba’s stature as a goal threat has exponentially improved after Jose Mourinho’s sack as he has scored five goals and provided four assists. Pushed higher against the opponent, Pogba is able to wreak more havoc. On Friday, Torreira will be nipping at his heels for all 90 minutes.
Sokratis v Marcus Rashford
Will the Greek defender be able to employ his wealth of experience to negate the speed and directness of the young English forward? Sokratis can be slow in his take-off but he is one defender that loves the tackle and will also employ underhand tactics to jar Rashford’s confidence, which is sky high at the moment with four goals in four matches and counting.
|Passes Completed [EPL]||9572||9102|
|Chances created from Open Play [EPL]||185||187|
|Tackles Made [EPL]||368||337|
|Tackles Won [EPL]||220||192|
|Goals Scored [All Competitions]||68||58|
|Goals Conceded [All Competitions]||38||40|
What the Managers are saying
“It’s the same players but they are playing with a big performance now. I was watching their last matches and each player has a lot of confidence, with big performances, and now they are very dangerous.” – Unai Emery, Arsenal Manager
“We’ve played Arsenal so many times in the FA Cup. I’ve actually played in two semi-finals against them in 1999 and 2004 and we won both of them, so let’s hope that’s a good sign.” – Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, Manchester United Manager
Arsenal: Cech; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal; Guendouzi, Torreira; Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil; Aubameyang
Man. United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Bailly, Young; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Martial, Rashford, Lingard