Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal believes the outcome of the FA Cup quarterfinal against Arsenal will not only affect the destiny of the competition but also the battle for a top-four spot in the Premier League.
The Gunners travel to Old Trafford on Monday to defend the trophy they won last season after beating Hull in the final at Wembley.
Just the one point separates the two sides in the Premier League table, with Arsene Wenger’s men sitting one place above United in third.
“Arsenal and United are now in third and fourth place, so it is a big event with two good teams,” Van Gaal said. “I hope we can give a fantastic match for the fans.
“I think if we beat them it is a big blow for them, but if they beat us it is a big blow for us. It is very important game, not only for the FA Cup but also for the [Premier League] rat race.”
Van Gaal also paid tribute to the longevity of Wenger, who has been in charge of Arsenal since 1996.
He added: “In my opinion, what he has done is amazing. It can only be in England, I believe, where managers are so long committed with one club.
“It shows how much he can mean for a club as a manager. I like that — like Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger — I think it’s fantastic that you can do that.”
Meanwhile, Marouane Fellaini believes United face a “massive game” against Arsenal, but says they can take confidence from their last-gasp 1-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday.
“It will be a challenge. Monday is a massive game. We have to win it in one game because playing at Arsenal would be difficult,” Fellaini, who was on the losing side in the 2009 FA Cup final with Everton, told MUTV. “The FA Cup is a special competition, a big trophy in England. I lost a final, I played in a semifinal. This season, I can win it.
“We have showed spirit already a lot of times now and we have to continue like that. We have a big game on Monday, so it is good for the confidence. We always keep going and scored in the last minute [against Newcastle]. The spirit was good, we kept going and that is important.”
United striker Robin van Persie will miss the clash against his old club due to an ankle injury, while defender Jonny Evans will be absent after he was banned by the Football Association for six matches for spitting at Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse.