Tonight will be the 15th showdown between Manchester United and Arsenal in the FA Cup and over the course of history, the ties have been rather close.
United have won seven games compared to Arsenal’s five victories and two games have ended in stalemate. That being said, it’s worth taking the daylight robbery of The FA cup final 2005 into account where Patrick Vieira cruelly slotted home the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after a game which saw United dominate over 120 minutes.
The benefit of Old Trafford
For United’s sake, the venue will be a clear advantage tonight. Playing in front of your own crowd is always helpful but in this competition, United have never beaten Arsenal away from home. From the seven wins, four have taken place at Old Trafford and the other three at Villa Park. Furthermore, United have only lost once at Old Trafford and the famous boot incident starring Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham followed that game in 2003.
If you browse through the history books, another home loss against the Gunners will appear but that was in the 1905/06 campaign when United still played at Bank Street.
Haunted by semi-final ghost?
The most recent part of the record might be a bit worrying for Louis van Gaal though. Despite Sir Alex Ferguson picking up two consecutive wins against Arsenal in his two last cup games against them, United were knocked out in the semi-final on both occasions.
In 07/08, Sulley Muntari crushed United’s FA Cup dreams by scoring a penalty against Rio Ferdinand as Thomasz Kuszczak was dismissed for handing Pompey the penalty.
In 10/11, Paul Scholes was the one to see red and Yaya Touré took a giant leap Manchester City towards their first major trophy since 1976 as he scored the winner at Wembley.
Even stevens on both fronts
On a more general club note, United and Arsenal are walking in each other’s footprints. Both have participated in 18 finals both have harnessed their opposition sufficiently to clinch the trophy 11 times. Arsenal’s most recent trophy was picked up last season after turning a 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 win over Hull thanks to goals from Santi Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey.
On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener and Ruud van Nistelrooy’s subsequent brace was enough to see off Millwall in 2004, to this day United’s most recent FA cup trophy win.
Knocked out by underdogs
With the likes of Reading, Bradford and Blackburn yet to be knocked out in this season’s tournament, it might be in order to mention that Arsenal were the previous side to be beaten in the final by a club from outside the top flight.
In the 1980 final, Trevor Brooking bagged the winner for Division Two outfit West Ham United in a 1-0 win against Terry Neill’s soldiers on Wembley. However, United stepped on the same landmine only four years earlier when Tommy Docherty’s Red Army lost out to second tier side Southampton by the same scoreline.
Coincidentally, one of the last things the match winner from 1976 Bobby Stokes did in his life was (presumably) to watch the FA Cup final in 1995, played ten days prior to his death. The outcome? United lost out 1-0 again, this time against Everton. Let’s hope for a different result this time around.
Stay tuned on The Peoples Person for pre and post-match coverage.