The two sides have met in the FA Cup competition several times. They have both won it more than any other clubs. Arsenal (13) and United (12).
They have had famous and unforgettable days in the FA. The image of Ryan Giggs taking the ball from half way into his own half and cutting through the whole Arsenal defence to score the winner in 1999 the year of the treble is still as fresh as if it happened yesterday.
On May 21 2005, when they met in the final, Manchester United dominated the very one sided game but could not score. Arsenal ended up winning the match via penalty shootout. It was Patrick Vieira’s last competitive match for the Gunners and it was the last time they won any trophy in eleven years.
ALSO READ: ‘Boro count on Mikel’s experience
Shortly after that, the two clubs’ priorities changed, Arsenal were more focused on completing their then new stadium and didn’t spend money to recruit quality players so, they lacked the players to compete with the big boys. Their woes were made even worse with the emergence of a certain Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, who was then massively backed with seemingly unending wads of cash.
On Manchester United’s part, the focus shifted to the more lucrative premier league which by then had started to enjoy the largesse from Sky Sports, the multi million pounds started rolling in and the club moved towards the jackpot.
Also, having seen off the Wenger challenge, Sir Alex Ferguson found himself in a formidable battle with another opponent, Jose Mourinho of Chelsea. The FA Cup then became more of a distraction and a competition to breed in young and upcoming players.
Fast forward to today, priorities have switched once more. Neither of these two clubs are in the frame to win the Premiership. New kids on the block have taken over. Arsenal have not won it since 2004 and United have not won it since Sir Alex retired in 2013.
At kick-off time today both sides will have new managers who are keen to prove themselves. Both Unai Emery and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer know they can’t win the league this season and they know they have to look elsewhere for trophies.
Arsenal are in the Europa League Cup while United are in the Champions League.
However, they will both know they have better chances in winning the FA Cup than the European trophies. Emery will want his first trophy as an Arsenal manager and Solskjaer will want to boost his chances of becoming Manchester United’s manager on a permanent basis.
I expect both managers to come out with a very strong line-up. I expect them to take this game very seriously. Arsenal are riding high from their comprehensive defeat of Chelsea while I expect United to take confidence from the away win over Spurs a couple of weeks ago. The advantage is with Arsenal because they are playing at home.
I expect a lot of goals in this game because both sides are very good going forward but are both rubbish in defence.