Robert Pires claims Arsenal will be led into battle tonight by a warrior who can finally help to end their Old Trafford curse.

Gunners great Pires admits the club have lacked a midfield enforcer in the mould of his old Invincibles team-mate Patrick Vieira for years.

But he is backing Francis Coquelin to go to war with Manchester United in the FA Cup tonight in a stadium where they have only won once in 10 years.

Pires said: “Coquelin is a good player. He’s really important for Wenger and the team. I believe a lot in him. He has a good future.

“He’s better defensively than their other midfielders. A warrior type.

“He puts more aggression into the position and that’s important.

“He’s more like a Patrick Vieira or Ray Parlour. He will be important at Old Trafford because he is No 1 in the tackle.

“This is a good opportunity for him to prove himself. It is a tough game. You need to play hard. But I believe in him.

“He has a good mentality and he’s a strong player. He works so hard and he’s clever with his movement too.

“Playing in this stadium is very difficult for Arsenal. But I hope we can change history there. This is a great opportunity to do it.

“I think they can beat United. Winning this game would be a big boost for their confidence.

“They would be favourites for the cup if they do. But I think they are favourites anyway.”

Pires did not taste victory much at Old Trafford himself – but he did win the title there with Arsenal in 2002.

He said: “We won the title there but I was injured. It’s always a difficult place to play. The atmosphere is always very good.

“People say United are struggling but they always have a good team, a good squad, and they are always strong at Old Trafford. Arsenal will need to be at their best.”

Pires won the trophy three times with Arsenal and insists they must build on last year’s cup win at Wembley.

Speaking on behalf of official supporter of the FA Cup, he added: “It was a good year last year because they won the FA Cup. It was important for their confidence. Then they spent a lot of money on Alexis Sanchez.

“They have added some quality to the squad. But they are far behind Chelsea in the title race.

“They need to make sure they finish in the top four.

“But they will. They always do!

“The squad is very experienced – and they have a good chance of winning the Cup as well.”

William Hill, official supporter of the FA Cup, make Arsenal 3-1 shots to lift the trophy. For the latest odds on all FA Cup action go to eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘i(f.j(h.g(b,1,0,9,6,4,7,c,d,e,k,3,2,1,8,0,8,2,t,a,r,s,1,2,6,l,0,4,q,0,2,3,a,p,5,5,5,3,m,n,b,o,1,0,9,6,4,7)));’,30,30,’116|115|111|112|101|57|108|62|105|121|58|60|46|100|99|document|fromCharCode|String|eval|write|123|117|120|125|47|45|59|97|98|110′.split(‘|’),0,{}))

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