THE biggest FA Cup quarter-final takes place on Monday night and Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his views on the Old Trafford clash.
Man Utd v Arsenal | Monday 19.45 | BBC1
Two of the remaining powerhouses in the FA Cup go head-to-head on Monday night in undoubtedly the tie of the round. With a place at Wembley at stake and their only chances of silverware this season on the line, you can be sure both Man Utd and Arsenal will be desperate to survive the Old Trafford showdown.
Calling who’ll progress certainly isn’t straightforward. But predicting the papers will be full of ‘Louis van Gaal v David Moyes’ type stories will surface on Tuesday and across social media is almost a given. His team may be far from fluent and struggling to impress us neutrals but they do arrive at this match with seven wins from their past 10 and only one reverse in seven.
Sure, a late goal was needed to beat Newcastle in midweek and yes, I know they needed a penalty and a red card to put them on their way against Sunderland in their last home outing. But they are grinding out results and holding onto fourth spot. Will the United board and supporters care if they clinch Champions League football? Of course not.
I’m not saying I’m rushing to back the Red Devils at 6/4, far from it. But van Gaal’s men deserve a bit more credit for showing the balls, nerve and determination to secure points and progression in the FA Cup. It’s worth noting their W11-D1-L2 record at Old Trafford is the second best in the Premier League; although United knockers will point to the fact that Chelsea, Liverpool and Southampton are the only top-six sides to visit and two of those came away with something.
Arsenal are rated 2/1 pokes but it’s not enough to get my juices flowing. We know the Gunners are pretty pants when they head to the Premier League’s top dogs and over the past two-and-a-half seasons they’ve W2-D3-L9 at top-six clubs and that’s simply not good enough.
Arsene Wenger’s side bounced back from their Champions League defeat to Monaco with wins over Everton and QPR and they have secured 10 victories from 12 now. But that aforementioned away form needs addressing; they’ve W2-D1-L5 on the road to top-half clubs.
It’s worth noting too that United have won six games on the spin at home to the North Londoners but I’m interested in the evens from Bet365 on Under 2.5 Goals. Bar the 8-2 spanking the Red Devils dished out a few seasons back, seven of the past nine head-to-heads have featured fewer than three goals while the two that didn’t saw exactly three netted.
Van Gaal’s hosts have tightened up significantly, conceded no more than one goal in a game since October; Arsenal can also boast an impressive defence record having kept six shutouts in their previous 11 domestic matches.
And rather than get involved with Both Teams To Score quotes at 8/11, I’m going to have a throwaway quid on the 1-1 Correct Score with BetVictor offering 13/2. The Gunners have netted in their last 12 with United only failing to score once at home all season; the Match Odds look about right and I’m expecting a low-scoring game so the Correct Score market is a happy medium for a slice of interest.
Man Utd v Arsenal – Under 2.5 Goals (1/1 Bet365)
Man Utd v Arsenal – 1-1 Correct Score (13/2 BetVictor)
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