London: The FA Cup has been an underdogs' tournament this season, but its first genuine heavyweight clash arrives on Monday when holders Arsenal visit old rivals Manchester United in the quarter-finals.

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger 

The eliminations of Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton have cleared the route for United and Arsenal, and it is an opportunity that both teams are desperate not to squander.

Recent events have left the FA Cup as the last realistic opportunity for both sides to apply a silver sheen to seasons that are rolling towards uncertain conclusions.

The pair remain well placed to qualify for next season's Champions League, with Arsenal currently third in the Premier League table and United a point back in fourth.

But Arsenal are on the brink of elimination from this season's Champions League after a 3-1 first-leg loss to Monaco in the last 16, while doubts continue to dog United as they struggle for form under Louis van Gaal.

Arsenal have won four matches in a row in the league, but recent history has given them reason to fear trips to Old Trafford. Arsene Wenger's side have not won there since September 2006 — a run of 10 matches that includes two FA Cup defeats and a scarring 8-2 annihilation in the league in August 2011.

The Arsenal manager refuses to entertain talk of bad omens, however, saying: "I don't believe too much in history. I just believe in the performance on the day. At the moment we are doing very well away from home.

"The size of the pitch is exactly the same everywhere. It is just down to how much we turn up and how much effort we put in to win the game," said Wenger.