Visitors can score a couple in Friday night showdown
United have been excellent in attack since Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer took over, scoring at least two in six of his seven in charge. That gives us a good betting angle, says Jamie Pacheco…
Arsenal v Manchester United
Friday January 25, 19:55
Live on BBC1
Emery eyeing up FA Cup glory
There’s absolutely no reason for Arsenal not to take this competition seriously. If anything, it’s the draining Europa League with those pesky Thursday night away fixtures that they could do without. Although of course winning that one gives them a Champions League place and this one doesn’t.
And he loves a Cup competition, does Unai Emery. After all, he won three Europa League titles with Sevilla plus both the French Cup and French League Cup with PSG. He’d love to add an FA Cup to his CV.
He does however have a few injury concerns to contend with. Hector Bellerin is out, as is Rob Holding. So Stephan Lichsteiner is a strong favourite to start at right back, or right wing-back, if the manager decides to go with a three-man defence. Henrick Mkhitarayan is out, too.
Petr Cech, who announced he’ll retire at the end of this season, might get a game in goal.
Pogba and Rashford leading the turnaround
The jury is still out as to whether Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer is that great or whether Jose Mourinho was that bad.
Either way, key to their change in fortunes has been the form of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford. The former was frozen out by Jose Mourinho towards the end of his tenure, the latter was almost always played out wide and his impact was limited as a result of that.
Rashford has four goals from his last four league appearances.
Another player who has had made an impact under the Norwegian is Ander Herrera. He just keeps it simple and does a selfless job for his side.
All three are expected to start here. Alexis Sanchez seems to be fully fit at last but may have to settle for a place on the bench on his old stomping ground.
Hosts too short
Man Utd have had the upper hand in this fixture over the past few years despite not having had great seasons. They’ve lost just one of the last six, a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates in the league back in May 2017.
In that period there were three wins for United and two draws.
For interest’s sake, they’ve played each other 15 times in the FA Cup over the years with six Arsenal wins, two draws and seven wins for the Manchester-based club.
Given United’s good record against them in recent years, their historic record in this competition and the fact they’re in slightly better form, the 31/20 on the hosts doesn’t appeal.
Are goals that much of a certainty?
The price in the over/under 2.5 goals market is a curious one. It’s just 6/10 that there are at least three goals. Three of the last four at the Emirates have gone ‘overs’ and 78% of United’s games in the league have had at least three goals this season. Those are the explanations as to why overs is a strong favourite.
But after three goal-filled matches under their Caretaker manager (5-1,3-1 and 4-1 wins) the goals have dried up a bit with wins by 2-0, 2-0 and 1-0, followed by a 2-1 win at the weekend. Arsenal’s recent games have been a bit of a mixed bunch.
So you could probably make a case for ‘unders’ being the value here at 6/5.
United good for two goals
But there is one goal-related bet we do like. Since taking over, Solskjaer has seen his side score at least two goals in six of their seven matches.
We’ve talked about Pogba and Rashford’s form already and you can add Anthony Martialand to a lesser extent Jesse Lingard to the list of in-form Man Utd attackers, too.
As for Arsenal, they’ve kept just two clean sheets in their last nine and of those only on two occasions did they concede two. But they were against Spurs and Liverpool suggesting that maybe the very best sides can get two past them. It’s 6/5 that United score two or more and that’s decent enough.
Rashford price stands out
We’re not going top put all our eggs in one basket by backing Rashford because if he scores, you’d think United would probably get two. But at 23/10 and given his current form, he’s hard to ignore. It’s a little absurd that Romelu Lukaku is so much shorter at 7/5 to score given he’s pretty unlikely to start.
For Arsenal, Alexander Lacazette looks a decent price. It would be no surprise if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang plays out wide here again with the Frenchman in the middle and that certainly increases the chances of the former scoring, while reducing the chances of the latter.