Gjanni Alioski takes Manchester United swipe in declaring confidence in Leeds United's chance at Arsenal
GJANNI ALIOSKI says Leeds United should not be scared by tomorrow night’s FA Cup clash at Arsenal, saying of the Gunners’ recent defeat of Manchester United - “even we can beat them.”
Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites will take on Mikel Arteta’s Gunners in one of the ties of the third round draw on Monday night with Championship leaders United facing Arsenal for the first time in eight years.
Thierry Henry’s 78th-minute strike gave Arsene Wenger’s side a 1-0 victory at the Emirates in the FA Cup third round back in 2012 at a time when United had only recently returned to the Championship following their 2010 promotion from League One.
But ten years on, United are now long-odds on to finally return to Arsenal’s level next season through promotion to the Premier League and Alioski says United’s confidence about getting a result should be high.
Arsenal sit tenth in the Premier League with the Gunners having sacked former boss Unai Emery at the end of November with the former Paris Saint-Germain manager replaced by former Gunners midfielder and ex-Manchester City assistant Arteta shortly before Christmas.
Arteta drew his first game in charge at Bournemouth but a 2-1 reverse at home to Chelsea followed before his side got up and running with a 2-0 win against Manchester United at the Emirates on New Year’s Day.
Alioski, though, is reading little into that result with the North Macedonian international poking a dig at United’s Roses rivals whilst relishing the prospect of tomorrow night's big battle at The Emirates.
Alioski quipped: “Of course even I see the result against Manchester United but this Manchester United team from this year, even we can beat them
“But we don’t need to watch what Arsenal do in the league or where they are.
“They had not a good period where they lost lots of games but it’s not important.
“This is the cup, it’s different, it’s not the same like in the league and in the cup there can always be something of a surprise.
Asked about the opportunity to show United’s talents on a grand Premier League stage, Alioski said: “Of course you have some players that think like this and of course it’s nice.
“It’s Arsenal, everybody knows it’s a big club but it’s not a case of thinking ‘wow it’s Arsenal, wow we are going to play against them’ because we are also a good team and we need to show it really.
“Now when you arrive in a level you don’t have this feeling any more of ‘wow, you are going to play against us and who are these players?’
“Of course they played for Real Madrid and teams like this and there’s big respect for them players but I think we need to go there with a lot of confidence and to play the game that we do we always - not be scared to go there because it’s Arsenal.
“Maybe it’s nice because it’s a nice stadium to play there. Of course it’s a big club but I think it’s not so special to think to go there because it’s Arsenal because maybe if it’s Leeds in the Premier League it is also a big club so it’s not a big difference.
“The difference is they are in the Premier League and we are in the Championship and it’s nice to go there and show them who is Leeds.
Leeds will arrive at the Emirates looking to dump out big name Premier League opposition at the third round stage exactly ten years after Jermaine Beckford’s strike sealed a 1-0 win at Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side.
Alioski, though, said in reality there was little difference between the stature of tonight’s two clubs battling it out at the Emirates.
“If we are in the Premier League, Leeds is going to be one of the biggest clubs like I know how they were before,” said Alioski.
“There’s a difference, they are in the Premier League and we are in the Championship but it doesn’t matter about everything around it.
“It’s important that we are going to go there to try to play this football that Marcelo Bielsa wants.
“I think with the style of how we play football we can show them where we are now and we can play against a big team, a big club in Arsenal to show the style that we play and we are going to see where we are.”
Reflecting on his own memories of the FA Cup up as a child, Alioski said: “I watched the World Cup, I watched everything. I always watch football, I watch every league and I know a lot of teams.
“I hope we can arrive here in the final - that is really the dream.
“To play in a stadium like Arsenal’s is also nice but it’s not a final but the atmosphere now that we play in on Monday will be different of course.
“It’s not a final but we can imagine it like this.
“You have big teams, City, Man U, Arsenal and Chelsea and for them it’s maybe that they need to win it (the FA Cup).
“For us it’s more of a surprise but you can always try to win something and I hope for every team it’s like this that if you play in a cup you want to win the cup.”