Writer: Brice Coffer
Date:Friday March 11 2011
Arsenal travel to Old Trafford Saturday looking to avoid being dumped out of 3 competitions in less than a fortnight. United have lost two on the bounce and now only sit three points ahead of Arsenal, with the Gunners having a game in hand. But this isn't the league. This is the FA Cup. Both teams would love to do have a domestic double come May, but only one will keep those hopes alive.
After going on media-lockdown, Sir Alex has broken his silence before this cup clash.
'Last season they faded around the February to March period to leave Chelsea and ourselves in a two-horse race that saw us pipped at the post by a point.' Ferguson said.
'I think most pundits expected to see something similar this season, plus a challenge from Spurs and Manchester City to make it even more difficult for Arsenal to get back up to the top.'
'But Arsene Wenger and his players have rearranged the pecking order somewhat to come storming through to lie in second place. Clearly they represent the main danger to us achieving our ambitions in a revival of the rivalry of a few years ago, and I am sure they regard us as the major threat to their hopes.'
Captain Nemanja Vidic will return for United, but Nani will miss the next three matches because of that leg gash. Antonio Valencia is on the mend, but will not be quite ready for Saturday. Rio Ferdinand and Park Ji-sung are also out. Johnny Evans should return to the bench.
Smalling was the subject of several deadline day offers by both Arsenal and United last January. I haven't seen too much of him, but I'll be able to get a good look tomorrow.
Fabregas and Szczesny are causalities of the trip to Barcelona. Cesc will be out for two matches, while our Polish 'keeper will likely miss 4-6 weeks. Song and Walcott are also still missing, while Thomas Vermaelen is trapped on a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific.
Almunia made a excellent cameo against Barcelona. I'm not the biggest fan of his, but he deserves everyone's support while Szczesny's out.
United are unbeaten in six league and cup matches against Arsenal, and are looking for a fourth consecutive victory over them.
Arsenal have been unable to score in any of their last three FA Cup meetings with United.
Two weeks ago Arsenal were still competing in all four competitions. Defeat to Manchester United would see their interest reduced to just the Premier League.
Arsenal and Manchester United are the most successful clubs in FA Cup history. They have lifted the trophy 21 times between them.
Thankfully Howard Webb is not the tomorrow's official. Instead it will be Chris Foy.
I have no idea on this one because I have no idea what team either manager will send out. Just checked the bookies real quick and they are also unsure. Hell, I'll just say a 2-1 Arsenal win!
19/3 (Sat) - West Brom (a) - Premier League
Date:Friday March 11 2011
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