Friday, March 11, 2011

Red vs. Red: Manchester United vs. Arsenal, FA Cup Preview

Another week, another clash of giants. Tomorrow, Arsenal will take on Manchester United at Old Trafford. The last time these two sides met, Manchester edged out the Gunners with a single goal from a skillful Park Ji Sung. However, at that point, Arsenal's strongest and most effective players, Robin Van Persie, and Cesc Fabregas were only able to come in as substitutes for the last 20 minutes of the match. Now, the match could be much more exciting.

Coming off of a loss in the Champions' League to Barcelona, Arsenal will be looking to bounce back to their previous form. It has been confirmed by Arsene Wenger that Cesc Fabregas will be out for the game. Also, Wojciech Szczesny's spot will be taken by Manuel Almunia, now the Gunners' only fit keeper. It remains to be seen who will take Fabregas' role in the squad, but my guess would be either Abou Diaby or Tomas Rosicky. Both players played in the Barca game. Also, Alex Song is still out, and I'm assuming that Diaby or Denilson will take his spot. However, injuries have taken their toll on The Red Devils also.

In their loss to Liverpool last weekend, Manchester's talisman Luis Nani will be out for the match, suffering from a deep gash that according to reports, was impossible to stitch together at first. With Rio Ferdinand still out, the young Chris Smalling will take the center-back role, along with Nemaja Vidic. With Antonio Valencia not fully fit yet,  Park Ji Sung out with a hamstring injury, and Anderson out with a knee injury, my guess is that Darron Gibson will be given the nod to start. So, it turns out that injuries are ravaging both teams, with 
Manchester United having 8 officially reported injuries, and Arsenal 7, according to

On their way to this match, United seemingly struggled against Crawley Town, a non-league side, winning 1-0. The Gunners also struggled in the first match with Leyton Orient, letting in a late equalizer that forced a replay. However, in the second match at the Emirates, Arsenal won 5-0 with a hat-trick from Bendtner. But the thing wonderful thing about cup matches is the unpredictability. League form is usually ignored, and teams fight with a greater spirit, knowing that if they lose, they no longer have a chance. The match could be dominated by one team, or a very even sided affair.

So, we'll let the teams do the talking. This is one of the toughest matches to predict this season, with both teams missing key players, and stuggling in recent matches. I'm hoping for this match to be a fantastic showing from both teams, because to be honest, the last match was a bit boring. The match kicks off tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. Central Time, at Old Trafford.

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