Manchester United visit Arsenal in the pick of the FA Cup fourth round ties on Friday night. The two clubs are the most successful in the competition’s history having featured in 20 finals each – twice against each other – with Arsenal winning a record 13 times to United’s 12.
Adding a little spice into the occasion, the two are almost inseparable in the Premier League this season with Arsenal 5th in the table, ahead of 6th-placed United on goal difference. The pair met in December and fought out a 2 – 2 draw at Old Trafford.
The visitors are in the better form of the two. Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over, United recorded seven straight wins albeit thanks to a kind fixture list which saw five of those games at Old Trafford.
Despite the club’s recent regression and United’s uptick after bringing Solskjaer onboard as caretaker, nearly every sportsbook out there sees Arsenal as a favourite. A slight favourite, mind you, but that distinction is enough to give one hope. And surely when you bet to leverage that advantage, the club becomes a consummate favourite, right? For those looking to do so but don’t have a preferred place to play, the list of sportsbooks found here all come highly rated.
Football fans survive on the slimmest of hopes all season so anything which adds to that is welcome.
Arsenal wiped the floor with Chelsea last weekend and the Emirates faithful will be hoping for more of the same. It was the club’s best performance since beating Tottenham 4 – 2 before Christmas and full of energy. The positivity is something Unai Emery is happy to inspire once again with Aaron Ramsey playing a pivotal role.
The Lost And The Lonely
The two club’s went head-to-head over Ramsey’s signature a decade ago with Arsenal winning despite United trumpeting they had landed a prized young player back in the day. Now, he is set to leave north London for northern Italy and the delights of Turin next season when he signs for Juventus.
Ramsey joins an illustrious list of players to wear both famous shirts: Brady, Platt, Vieira, Henry, Szczesny, Anelka and even Nicklas Bendtner. That last one was a head-scratching moment but perhaps the Agnelli family were fans of the Dane’s ‘imaginative’ jewellery.
But Ramsey’s love affair with the FA Cup includes three winners medals and the winning goal in two of those triumphs – 2014 vs Hull City and 2017 vs Chelsea – with many Arsenal fans hoping he bows out in the same style in 2019.
Of course, the stage is set for a former Gunner to play the role of party-pooper. Alexis Sanchez returns to fitness just in time for the trip to the Emirates with Solskjaer warning that any grief from the Arsenal crowd will just inspire the Chilean to produce his best.
Which would be the first time the United crowd saw him at his best because he hasn’t produced the goods since his move from Arsenal a year ago.
Each of his goals cost United roughly £6.5m with the Gunners appearing to get the best out of the swap which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move to North London. Although to be honest, that’s open to debate with the Armenian failing to live up to the expectations of his one scintillating season with Dortmund.
Someone’s Going To Be Skittled Out Of The Cup
There are several flavours at play in this fixture with both sides containing enough matchwinners to make the difference at the final whistle. If, however, Arsenal display the same endeavour and determination as last weekend, Manchester United will need to add Lady Luck to their starting line-up as well.