United eye Champions League return as they host rivals Arsenal

2015-03-07 00:00

LONDON — The priority is returning to the Champions League for Manchester United. Winning the FA Cup would provide a bonus for coach Louis van Gaal.

Knock out Arsenal in the quarter-finals and the path to Wembley Stadium would become a lot smoother.

Liverpool, who host Blackburn tomorrow are the only other Premier League power in the competition after a string of upsets in earlier rounds.

United host Arsenal in the Cup on Monday.

“It is very important game, not only for the FA Cup, but also for the rat race,” said Van Gaal.

United, despite producing few convincing performances this season, have ground out wins and are better placed than last season under David Moyes.

There are three other quarter-finals this weekend.

Liverpool v Blackburn

Tomorrow, SS3, 5.50 pm

Once Premier League rivals, Blackburn are spending their third season in the second tier, sitting far from promotion in 10th.

Liverpool are back on track to qualify for the Champions League for a second successive season after going 12 games unbeaten in the league, rising to fifth.

Finishing in the top four is a priority, but manager Brendan Rodgers is yet to win his first trophy in management.

Aston Villa v West Brom

Today, SS3, 7pm

Now out of the relegation zone, new Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood could book a trip to Wembley by repeating Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion when they meet again in the FA Cup today. “We want to get to Wembley and West Brom will have to stop us getting there,” said Sherwood. “Tuesday’s result was massive for us.”

Bradford v Reading

Today, SS3, 2.30 pm

Second tier Reading are seeking their first FA Cup semi since 1927. For Bradford, the wait has been longer, having made the last four in 1911.

Third-tier Bradford have emerged as cup specialists, reaching the 2013 League Cup final and advancing in this year’s FA Cup by ousting Premier League teams Chelsea and Sunderland.

There is one Premier League game this weekend — Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers (today, SS3, 4.50 pm).

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