Arsenal breezed into the FA Cup fourth round by defeating Blackpool 3-0. The Gunners reward is a home tie against resurgent Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium. The draw could have been kinder to Arsenal, but at least the tie is on home soil.
A big test of Emery’s Arsenal
There are those who argue that Arsenal are moving in the right direction under Spanish head coach Unai Emery. The Gunners are regarded as a slightly tougher team under Emery, although that may just be down to the presence of the combative Lucas Torreira in the centre of midfield.
This sort of game would have seen Arsene Wenger teams in the latter years of his reign wilt. However, it will be interesting to see how the north London side combats such an in-form team.
United have their weak spots
Manchester United are a bit like Arsenal, in the sense that they are prolific in attack but vulnerable in defence. Since interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s appointment, they have scored at least two goals in all five of their matches in all competitions.
However, the Red Devils have been weak in defence all season, even if they have kept consecutive clean sheets against Newcastle and last time out Reading.
The Arsenal attack definitely has enough quality to trouble a shaky and unsettled backline. The team may be showing signs of improvement at the back under Solskjaer, but whether he can bring the stability needed is another question.
His teams like to play attacking football. Sometimes that means leaving gaps at the back and the current crop of United defenders do not look capable of covering those gaps.
Arsenal the favourites to progress
Arsenal are favourites to progress past Manchester United, although strangely United are shorter odds to win the FA Cup at odds of 8/11, compared to the Gunners odds of 12/1 to lift the trophy in May.
One thing is for sure on paper the Arsenal v Manchester United clash should be a highly entertaining encounter between two very good attacking teams. The two teams both have a big history with the FA Cup, and both will be confident of progressing to the next round.
An easier draw would obviously have been preferable considering that the Gunners form has been inconsistent of late. However, Manchester United are not unbeatable, so the Gunners still have a good chance of making it to the fifth round.
Will Arsenal progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup?