Manchester United v Arsenal
The two giants of English football meet on Saturday in what promises to be one of the all time great FA Cup matches.
The FA Cup’s two most successful clubs, eight time winners and holders Arsenal and ten time winners Manchester United, meet in the fifth round to decide who will progress into the quarter-finals and become favorites tolift the trophy.
The last time the two teams meet in the FA Cup was 1999, in an enthralling FA Cup semi-final replay encounterwhich saw Dennis Bergkamp miss a 89th minute penalty and Ryan Giggs score the goal of his career to secure the win in injury time.
That season also saw United achieve an unprecedented treble of the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup. This season Manchester United have the chance to go one better and win the quadruple by adding the Worthington Cup to their list of honors, qhilw double winners Arsenal are still in with a chance of winning the treble.
On recent form Manchester United look the stronger side having gone 20 games without defeat, their last match saw them draw1-1 with local rivals Manchester City.
Meanwhile, league leaders Arsenal, have gone undefeated in their last 13 games, the Gunners last league defeat was to Manchester United in December. Their last two away results have been draws to Newcastle and Liverpool, wwhile at home, they needed a last gasp Robert Pires winner to beat Fulham, two weeks ago.
Left winger, Ryan Giggs, is an injury concern for United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Welshman suffering with a thigh injury. Fabien Barthez should return in goal after a stint out injured.
Arsenal midfielder, Gilberto Silva, will decide on match day if he feels well enough to play after taking part in the midweek friendly in China for Brazil. Freddie Ljungberg may be warming the bench as he fights to overcome an achilles problem.
Many observers have labelled this game the title decider with the winner going on to take it all and the losers ending the season with nothing. Certainly the result will effect the morale of both teams, but the worst result for either side would be a draw; with their busy schedules you can be sure that Arsenal and United would prefer a demoralising defeat to yet another fixture.
Crystal Palace v Leeds
First Division Crystal Palace will take on Premiership strugglers Leeds in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.
Leeds manager, Terry Venables, can expect a torrent of abuse from Palace fans as he returns to Selhurst Park for the first time since his disastrous spell as manager in 98-99.
Many supporters attribute Palace’s current financial troubles to Venables spell in charge.
Leeds are in the middle of an injury crisis; they are without their captain, Dominic Matteo, out for 1 month with a torn hamstring, midfielder and part-time striker Eirik Bakke is out for six weeks with an injured ankle ligament. Australian Paul Okon will be out after receiving a hamstring injury during Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over England and Mark Viduka will miss the match through suspension. Leeds do have Harry Kewell back after he missed the last two games for the club with a hamstring problem.
Palace’s only injury is to defender Tony Popovic who sustained a groin strain during Wednesday night’s England-Australia game in which he scored.
Both Leeds and Palace lie 13th in their respective leagues and the match will be a welcome break from their faltering league campaigns. Leeds have lost their last two away games while Palace remain undefeated at home since November the 26th.
Leeds struggled against First division opposition in the last round where they needed a replay against Gillingham, while Palace defeated 6th in the Premiership Liverpool 2-0 in the last round of theCup. FA Cup
Fifth Round Ties
Saturday 15th February, K.O 15:00 (GMT) unless stated.
Sheffield United v Walsall
Sunderland v Watford
Sunday 16th February
Fulham v Burnley K.O 15:00
Wolves v Rochdale K.O 19:00