Unai Emery says Arsenal face a big test against Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s resurgent Manchester United but he’s excited that the FA Cup such a big match.
Since sacking Jose Mourinho in mid-December, the Red Devils have won seven games on the bounce scoring 19 goals; a run that has reignited a season that threatened to be a damp squib.
Having earned a creditable draw with Liverpool and seen off both Sp*rs and Chelsea at the Emirates this season, the boss is wary of the visitors, but not scared.
“It’s a different team,” noted Emery when asked what he’s expecting under the lights tomorrow evening.
“It’s the same players [at United] but they’re playing with a big performance now. I was watching their last matches and each player has a lot of confidence, with big performances, and now they are very dangerous.
“For us, it’s good because it’s a very big test for us in this competition. Manchester United and us have played 20 finals in the FA Cup, and we’ve won 13 and they’ve won 12. For this competition, it’s the best match to play.
“We are looking forward to playing this match on Friday because it’s at our stadium, the Emirates, in front of our supporters.
“We feel very well in front of them and we want to create a new atmosphere over 90 minutes on Friday, together with our supporters.”
The Gunners come into the match off the back of a clean sheet – a rarity this season – and Emery is eager for his side to continue taking collective responsibility for their defensive work.
“Yes, it was very important [not conceding against Chelsea],” he said.
“It’s our challenge in every match. But I think against West Ham we can work better defensively also and we conceded one goal but we still didn’t concede a lot of chances. The last two matches I think we have been better defensively.
“Against Manchester United against big and great players, we do the same work. We can be defensively strong and I think we need every player to defend, not only the defensive players, the attacking players can help us too.
“Defensively in the last match against Chelsea every player worked hard offensively and defensively with good spirit. We pressed against them and I think we can do the same on Friday and our objective on Friday is to keep another clean sheet against Manchester United.”