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Top Two Meet in FA Cup Quarters

Rooney in action for Manchester United


Manchester United host Arsenal at Old Trafford this Saturday afternoon as English football’s top two teams do battle for a place in the FA Cup semi-final.

Both United and the Gunners come into this game low on confidence. Arsenal having lost in the Champions League and Carling Cup over the course of the past fortnight, the Red Devils after suffering back-to-back defeats in the Premier League for the first time since March 2009.

Nani is unavailable for Manchester United having received a deep gash on the shin in the defeat to Liverpool. Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans could return to ease their defensive woes while Park Ji-Sung and Antonio Valencia are also in contention for a recall.

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has been ruled out after aggravating a hamstring injury in the Nou Camp, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is also out with a finger injury but Alex Song could return.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has begun the customary mind games by declaring Arsenal as the main danger to his side’s trophy aspirations this season.

“Arsene Wenger and his players have rearranged the pecking order somewhat to come storming through to lie in second place. Clearly they represent the main danger to us achieving our ambitions in a revival of the rivalry of a few years ago, and I am sure they regard us as the major threat to their hopes,'' Ferguson said.

The bookmakers have made United the strong betting favourites at odds of 10/11 for the win. Arsenal are 3/1 and the draw that would see the game go to a replay is 5/2.

Saturday’s other fixture sees Birmingham entertain Bolton. The home side have been a different beast in cup competitions this season and a win here would keep them on course to do the cup double whilst flirting with relegation in the Premier League.

Bolton, however, have no such worries in the league and can afford to focus all their attentions on this game. And for that reason the bookmakers have made the visitors the slight betting favourites to win at odds of 8/5. It is 9/5 for an away win and 23/10 that the game ends in a draw.

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