The records do not make for good reading if you are of an Arsenal persuasion and it would seem there is everything to fear when the Gunners travel to Old Trafford to take on old rivals – Manchester United on the 9th of March for the quarter-final of the FA Cup.
The 2006/2007 season was the last time Arsenal beat United at Old Trafford but as shown by the last meeting between the two in November, there seems to be more to Arsenal winning their fierce rivals than the question of the ground being played at.
Defeats to United have come in form of an 8 – 2 annihilation, Champions League semi-finals exit and an unceremonious 4 – 0 drubbing at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, a game in which the Gunners were so poor that Darren Fletcher nearly got a hat-trick.
Somethings have changed for the Arsenal team now and there could be no better game to exorcise, once and for all, the ghosts in red-and-white that have haunted Wenger’s men for the best part of a decade now. The next meeting between the two would have been on the penultimate weekend of the League season and that may not be a cracker if top four places already become settled by then, hence a win not bearing so much weight.
Knocking United out of the FA Cup and consigning them to a second trophyless season will be the perfect way to overcome the psychological barricade.
And there was ample evidence from Monday night that it will not prove an impossible job to Wenger and his team. Preston were the obvious better team in the first half of the match and duly took the lead few minutes into the second half. Phil Dowd’s decisions to let Rooney have his way with both his interference in the lead up to Ander Herrera’s equalizer and an Olympic stunt to score the penalty effectively gave them the tie.
There was really nothing special about this United side and there has not been all season, especially that evening in November at the Emirates. It’s time someone gave them a real beating and put them in their due place.
Expect them to find a way to get by Swansea, Sunderland and Newcastle in their next games but justice will be served cold when Arsenal come calling.
And with the race for the top four entering its final ten games after that, a crushing defeat will only give way for one team to have more confidence in the cruise to finish line.
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