Manchester United have an opportunity to extend their incredible winning streak under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when they meet Arsenal in a mouth-watering fourth-round FA Cup clash on Friday.
While the two teams have a rich history in the prestigious knockout competition, meeting each other on 15 previous occasions, this will be United’s first trip to the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup.
The Red Devils have looked like a totally transformed side under their new caretaker manager, picking up seven straight wins in all competitions since his arrival.
Arsenal’s recent form hasn’t been anything like as consistent, with a big defeat to Liverpool and a more recent 1-0 loss to West Ham pegging them back in the title race and leaving them in danger of being overhauled by a rampant United side on the Premier League table.
But before the two teams hash it out in the league, they must first do battle in the FA Cup, and the result could end up determining how things go elsewhere as well.
Both teams will certainly be going all out for victory, with Solskjaer and Arsenal boss Unai Emery each looking to secure some silverware in their debut seasons at their new clubs.
In team news, uncertainty remains over whether defenders Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo will be available for selection for United.
Shaw was taken ill in the warm-up prior to last weekend’s 2-1 win over Brighton, while Smalling and Rojo are nearing full fitness after recent injury problems.
Marouane Fellaini is expected to be out for three to four weeks with a calf problem, but Solskjaer expects former Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez to return against his former club after missing the last two games.
Sanchez’s return to the Emirates will no doubt add some extra spice to an already flaming hot encounter, although he hasn’t gotten much game time since Solskjaer’s arrival, starting just once in the previous round of the FA Cup against Reading.
Solskjaer has backed the Chilean to get more chances, but as part of an ongoing rotation between his forwards.
“There are the three who play the most but then you’ve got Romelu (Lukaku), you’ve got Juan (Mata), you’ve got Alexis, so I’ve got a front six I can rotate with,” he said.
“I used to be one of four strikers when we played with two. Now we have six forwards and we play with three most of the time.
“We’ll be OK to be able to rotate and there’s enough games and playing time.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal were dealt a big blow earlier in the week when it was confirmed that Hector Bellerin will be out of action for the rest of the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in last Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea.
The Spaniard joins fellow defender Rob Holding and former United striker Danny Welbeck on the side-lines, both of whom are still dealing with long-term injuries.