LONDON. — Manchester United and Arsenal have served up some classic FA Cup soccer encounters going back to their first 109 years ago and Monday’s quarter-final under the Old Trafford floodlights promises another special occasion.
Fans of both sides can pick out plenty of memorable moments between the two most successful clubs in the competition with 11 wins apiece.
Holders Arsenal beat United in the 1979 and 2005 finals but United have won their last two meetings in the competition since that defeat on penalties at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff 10 years ago.
Alan Sunderland’s last-minute winner for the Londoners in an epic 1979 final and Ryan Giggs’s semi-final wonder goal for United 20 years later are just two stand-outs.
There was also Arsenal’s 2-0 fifth-round win in 2003 that became infamous after David Beckham was struck above his eye by a boot that had been kicked in anger in the dressing room by United manager Alex Ferguson.
Go further back in time and the history books tell of Arsenal’s 5-0 fourth-round demolition of United in 1937, a record home win against the Red Devils that still stands.
And Wayne Rooney is hoping to finally get his hands on the FA Cup this season as Manchester United prepare to face Arsenal in the quarter-finals on Monday.
The United and England captain has won Premier League titles, the League Cup and the Champions League in his career but the FA Cup has so far eluded him.
“We have an FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal on Monday and that is massive for us,” said Rooney, who saw his boyhood favourites Everton win the trophy back in 1995 by defeating United in the final.
“We haven’t been to a final for a few years, we want to try to win that game and we are looking forward to that.
“Of course, I think it is a massive trophy. It is a trophy that, growing up as a youngster, I used to love watching and I was fortunate enough to see Everton lift the FA Cup in 1995 when I was nine years old.
“It is something which I would love to do and hopefully it can be this year.”
The 29-year-old has twice been on the losing side in the final, forming part of the team that lost on penalties to Arsenal in 2005 and then featuring in the 2007 final defeat to Chelsea.
Meanwhile, just four days after securing three much-needed league points with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over their local rivals, Aston Villa host West Bromwich Albion again today in the second all-Premier League quarter-final.
Christian Benteke’s penalty handed Tim Sherwood his first win as Aston Villa manager and ended their worst run for 52 years.
Liverpool meet second-tier Blackburn Rovers at Anfield tomorrow on the back of a run of form which has seen Brendan Rodgers’ side lose just once in their last 21 games in all competitions.
While Liverpool’s main focus is securing a Champions league place for next season, they will be confident of reaching the semifinals against a Rovers side anchored in mid-table in the Championship.
The last time the sides met in April 2012 — a 3-2 win for Liverpool at Ewood Park — Rovers were heading out of the Premier League.
A lower league team is guaranteed a last-four place with third-tier Bradford City, who reached the League Cup final two years ago, hosting Championship side Reading at Valley Parade today in what is certain to be an emotional afternoon for Phil Parkinson.
Bradford manager Parkinson ended his playing career at Reading where he was a fans’ favourite, making over 400 appearances in the blue and white hoops.
Giant-killing Bradford have the whiff of Wembley again after stunning Premier League leaders Chelsea and Sunderland in previous rounds. — AFP.
FA Cup quarter-finals fixtures
Today: Bradford v Reading (2:45pm); Aston Villa v West Brom (7:30pm)
Tomorrow: Liverpool v Blackburn (6pm)
Monday: Manchester United v Arsenal (9:45pm)