Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has built up his sidea s upcoming FA Cup sixth round with rivals Arsenal as a a finala . The Dutchman was speaking at his weekly press conference ahead of Uniteda s match with the Gunners.
United are tied with Arsenal as the most successful club in the oldest club competition in the world. Both clubs have won the title 11 times with the Gunnersa North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur a distant second with 8 titles to their name. Arsenal also enter the competition as the defending champions, after winning the title dramatically last year.
The last time these two clubs met in the FA Cup, Sir Alex Ferguson outwitted Arsene Wenger, guiding his team to a comfortable 2-0 win for the home side at Old Trafford back in March 2011.
Van Gaal, who came in with a reputation of a tactical genius, hasna t quite been able to justify that tag so far. Yet, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich trainer was able to find a combination that assured United of a 1-2 win at the Emirates Stadium earlier in the season. He showed class and poise as he talked about his sidea s opponents and his opposite number.
a I think Arsene Wenger is always saying the right things – for any club, the Champions League is the highest level. To finish in the top four, ita s a fantastic achievement, and more so for Manchester United.a He added, a Ita s a game between two teams of 11 players. United are Arsenal are placed third and fourth in the league, so ita s almost like a final I thinka a
“I think when if beat them it is a big blow for them but if they beat us it is a big blow for us. It is a very important game, not only for the FA Cup but also for the rat race. We have the support of our fans but Arsenal shall also bring a lot of fans. I hope we can give a fantastic match for them.”
When asked about Uniteda s chances of progressing to the next stage of the competition, the Dutchman said, a Ita s difficult to say because Arsenal can also be at their best, but they might not be so good. It depends on your opponent, but usually against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea you have to be at your best.
a In this league, when youa re not, ita s difficult to beat an opponent. We saw that yesterday, you need some luck, Rooneya s goal was ruled out [for offside], there are a lot of aspects you cana t control.a
Turning its attention to the Newcastle game, the media questioned Van Gaal about a reported rift between him and assistant manager Ryan Giggs. When United scored the winning goal, Giggsa celebration wasna t quite as emphatic as Van Gaala s, fuelling this speculation. The Dutchman, at first, responded with sarcasm, a I cannot answer that. We have a very bad relationship!a
He then got a little serious, a Ia m very irritated by this question. We have a very good relationship, everyone can see that we work very hard together, and that goes for all the staff and players. I think ita s a way of suggesting things, so Ia m very irritated. Ia ll take this up with the media, Ia m not pleased.a