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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 09:42 GMT
Stapleton backs Man Utd

Man Utd v Arsenal | FA Cup fifth round | Sat 15 Feb, kick-off 1215 GMT |
Live and interactive on BBC One, Radio Five Live and the BBC Sport website

Frank Stapleton
Stapleton has a rich Cup pedigree

Frank Stapleton has tipped a resurgent Manchester United to edge out Arsenal in the weekend's most eagerly-anticipated FA Cup fifth round tie.

The former Republic of Ireland striker appeared in five FA Cup finals - three for Arsenal and two for United - and also boasts two Cup final goals.

Stapleton conceded it was difficult to predict the result - but said United's improved consistency could hold the key to the outcome.

"These are both two fantastic clubs which I spent the majority of my career with and I've got a great affinity for both," Stapleton told BBC Sport.

United have beaten Arsenal already this season and will go into it thinking they know what to do

Frank Stapleton

"When they play each other, I tend to go to the games and I don't ever favour one or the other.

"All I like to see is that the team that plays better on the day wins the game.

"But it's very hard to call this match.

"United are resurgent in their form.

"At the start of the season, they had a number of injuries and the manager was forced to pick from a panel of 13 of his senior squad.

"But from that came a unity and it just carried on.

"Apart from a couple of blips through the Christmas period, they have been the model of consistency since October.

"It's an unbelievable tie at this stage of the competition but that's part of the romance of the FA Cup."

But Stapleton is not convinced the FA Cup tie will have a knock-on effect in the league title race between the Premiership's best two teams.

"There will be a psychological advantage to whoever wins but you have to take each game on its own merits," he said.

"United have beaten Arsenal already this season and will go into it thinking they know what to do.

"But Arsenal will know that they could have played better when they lost 2-0 at Old Trafford earlier in the season, so it will be interesting to see how both teams react on the day."


Line up against the FA Cup dream team!

Four players in 11 positions, plus a coach, are to be chosen from a list of stars who have played a major part in FA Cup finals over the years.

And a team of lucky voters will get the chance to play against a Dream Team made up from the shortlisted players before the FA Cup final in Cardiff in May

FA Cup sponsors Carlsberg will have more information on how to enter via their website from early March.


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