View Full Version : Arsenal v Manchester United

04-03-2004, 02:59 AM
Manchester United goes into this FA Cup semifinal with Arsenal with the aim of keeping their season alive, since they have already conceded the Premiership title to Arsenal and also failed to stop Arsenal setting a new record of 30 games unbeaten record last weekend.
The primary aim of the Red Devils now is to stop the Gunners from winning three FA Cup titles in a row and in the process match their 10 record titles as well. Manchester United will also love to deny Arsenal the chance of repeating United's historic 1999 Treble and also suggest that the balance of power has shifted to the London capital.
I must state here that even though Arsenal are unbeaten in 18 Cup games in the FA Cup, the Red Devils on the other hand have a fantastic record in the semi-finals. For the record, they have reached the semifinals in their last 10 attempts and that also included a 1999 meeting with Arsenal in which Ryan Giggs scored a fantastic solo effort and they progressed to the final. And when United progressed to the final, they have managed to win five of their last six Cup final appearances.
The focus in this match will be centred on the respective's teams strikeforce between Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy, especially after Louis Saha, started the debate about which of the two sharpshooters is the better player and he opted for Thierry Henry stating that Nistelrooy cannot score outside the box and is not a complete striker. Louis Saha for the record is not playing in this match as he is cup tied.
But, Wenger has admitted that he may rest Henry, with the thought of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Chelsea in mind while Nistelrooy missed Wednesday's International Friendly due to a knee injury and will undergo a late fitness test to see if he has recovered.
So it comes down all to mind games. For United they know that they have nothing else to play for this season, having been knocked out of the Champions League and conceeding title to Arsenal in the Premiership. Arsene Wenger would love however to knock Manchester United out of the competition without fielding his best side as he did at Old Trafford in 2003.
Their last meeting ended in a 1-1 draw at Highbury in the Premiership, but in that match Arsenal was leading 1-0 until Louis Saha came on and equalized for the Red Devils. He will not feature in this match as he is cup tied. Can United managed without him now?
Arsenal goes into this match knowing that they have already been playing a lot of matches this season and have displayed signs of tiredness in the second half of recent matches and with too much reliances on Henry, there are players such as Sylvain Wiltord who has still to fully recover from an ankle injury. Ashley Cole (knee) and Gilberto Silva (returning from international duty) definitely ruled out, thus it would be a big gamble if Wenger do decide to leave Henry out of this match even though the promising Spaniard Jose Antonio Reyes is available. Pascal Cygan and Ray Parlour are still out of action for this clash. Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires are fit, despite missing their international commitment on Wednesday as they have stayed on in London to get extra rest.
On with United, Ferguson has never lost a domestic semi-final with the club and Villa Park has been a good ground for the Manchester side in the past. Even though Van Nistelrooy is injured, chances are he will be selected for this match as Diego Forlan will unlikely be selected coming back from International duty. Since Louis Saha is cup tied there is also possibility Ole Gunner Solskjaer will start this match on the right flank.
As for United's backline, Roy Carroll should retain his place in goal ahead of the rested Tim Howard, with Gary Neville, Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre and John O'Shea forming the backline. Cristiano Ronaldo, if fit, will increase the United manager's options, but he may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Ryan Giggs, scorer of the sensational solo winner in 1999, will start this match, alongside Roy Keane, who was sent off in that fixture, and Paul Scholes with Nicky Butt, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Phil Neville, Fletcher and Ronaldo pushing for the other remaining place.
Nicky Butt and Phil Neville played for England last Wednesday which suggest that they may be rested in this match and Ferguson likely to use the same lineup that played Arsenal last weekend.
Manchester United are effectively out of the title race since they failed to win at Highbury. They are also out of the Champions League and all is left for them this season for some silverware to show is the FA Cup. That shyould make the Red Devils determined enough to beat the Gunners in this match.