Former Arsenal midfielder turned Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has hyped up the importance of the FA Cup clash…
Paul Merson has claimed that the loser of Monday evening’s FA Cup clash between Arsenal and Manchester United could be without a manager, with the game decisive to both men’s future prospects.
Arsene Wenger and Louis van Gaal have both endured heavy criticism so far this season, with the FA Cup realistically representing both club’s final chance at silverware this season.
The Gunners currently sit third in the Premier League, nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea, who have a game in hand. United are a point further back in fourth place, but have been slammed for failing to capitalise on their £150m summer transfer splurge.
Both clubs made early exits from the Capital One Cup – Arsenal losing to Southampton, after United were thrashed by MK Dons – while the North London giants face the ominous task of trying to overturn a 3-1 deficit against AS Monaco in the Champions League second round clash.
And now Merson has hyped up the pressure on both managers, claiming the loser of the quarter-final could be out of a job come the end of the season, or perhaps even earlier if things continue to go against them.
He told the Daily Star: “Whichever manager loses out when Manchester United and Arsenal clash in their FA Cup quarter-final will be under severe pressure. Whoever goes out of the cup will just be playing for the top four – and neither team is guaranteed to finish in there this season.
“You can’t tell me that either of those managers will still be in a job next season if they go out of the cup and don’t finish in the top four. Van Gaal has spent a fortune and has to qualify for the Champions League. Winning the FA Cup might save him. Not doing either? It’s goodbye.
“You see this every year with Arsenal. They were out of the title race ages ago, but they will probably win their last eight or nine games and come third. Then everybody will say next year’s the year, the players are more experienced – and it will be the same story all over again.
“Nothing really changes. It’s a hard one to call, this game. United have not been playing great for a while, but you know what they are like in big games – they can turn it on. I do think they will get a hiding sometime soon, though.”