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FA CUP: United To Face Arsenal In Quarterfinals After Beating Preston 3-1

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Joint record FA Cup winners Manchester United and Arsenal will meet in the quarterfinals of this season’s competition following the draw on Monday.
United beat League One Preston North End 3-1 to set up the last-eight clash with holders Arsenal who beat them in the 1979 and 2005 finals. Both clubs have won the famous trophy 11 times.
Scott Laird’s deflected 47th-minute strike gave third-tier Preston the scent of a huge upset but United regrouped and goals by Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and Wayne Rooney sent the Premier League side through.
“We showed an unbelievable team spirit,” United manager Louis Van Gaal told the BBC.
“We changed the shape and that was the solution. We scored fantastic goals, a little bit lucky also I think. I liked the second goal a lot, we have trained for that a lot.
“Marouane Fellaini has a body, he also scores goals. I played him in the position that he wants for the first time but I do not always have a position for him. The spirit was better.”
Preston manager Simon Grayson led Leeds United to a famous victory over Manchester United in an FA Cup third-round tie at Old Trafford in 2010 and his organised team worked tirelessly to give themselves a chance to emulate that feat.
They restricted United with disciplined defending and the visitors failed to trouble keeper Thorsten Stuckmann in the first half.
Laird’s speculative strike, which burst through the grasp of United goalkeeper David de Gea, sent the home fans into a frenzy and Van Gaal’s last realistic chance of winning silverware in his first season at United looked in jeopardy.
But the introduction of the livewire Ashley Young in place of ineffective striker Radamel Falcao revived the visitors and good work by the winger down the right set up the chance for Herrera to squeeze in a 65th-minute equaliser off the post.
Antonio Valencia’s right-wing cross was powerfully met by Fellaini at the far post and the towering Belgian lashed home the rebound seven minutes later.
Rooney chased a through ball and narrowly won the race with Stuckmann whose clumsy tackle led to a penalty which the striker gleefully lashed home to register his first goal of the year and stay on course for his first FA Cup winners’ medal.
Giant-killers Bradford City of League One, who caused one of the biggest ever FA Cup upsets by beating Chelsea in the fourth round before seeing off Premier League Sunderland in the fifth, got the home tie their manager Phil Parkinson wished for.
The third-tier side will face Reading, struggling in 16th place in the Championship (second tier) and have a good chance of reaching the last four for the first time since 1911 when they won their only FA Cup.
The draw was also kind to Liverpool, who were paired with mid-table Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
England manager Roy Hodgson, who helped make the draw and has managed both clubs, did Liverpool the bigger favour.
Brendan Rodgers’s side are in a rich vein of form after a sluggish start to the season and will be favourites to reach the semifinals for the first time since they lost the 2012 final to Chelsea.
However, Blackburn have beaten Premier League Swansea City and Stoke City in the last two rounds after coming from behind in both matches.
New Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood will be looking for two victories in four days over local midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion as his side battle against relegation and seek a place in the last four.
Villa and West Brom, who contested three FA Cup finals between 1887 and 1895, will meet at Villa Park on March 3 in the Premier League before the Baggies make the short trip back there for the cup clash.
The quarterfinals will be played on the weekend of March 7-8.

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