Louis van Gaal
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is focused on finishing in the top fourGetty Images

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says the FA Cup game against Arsenal on 9 March will be "like a final" but insists finishing in the top four in the Premier League is their real target.

Van Gaal's side will host the Gunners in the quarter-final clash but are also battling the London side for a Champions League spot, with United fourth in the league, a point behind third-placed Arsenal and two ahead of Liverpool, who are fifth.

The Dutch manager has hailed the importance of the cup game both for staying in with a chance of winning the trophy but also for the impact it could have in the confidence of both teams ahead of the business end of the season.

"It's a game between two teams of 11 players. United and Arsenal are placed third and fourth in the league, so it's almost like a final I think... It's very important, every match that you play has an influence on the next," Van Gaal said.

"We are in a rat race in the Premier League and the club that wins the FA Cup match on Monday will have good momentum for the league games.

"I always want to achieve the goals we've set as a club. That goal is to reach the top four, and a title [trophy] would be fantastic. The top four is important for the club; if you win the FA Cup you're still not in the Champions League. It's fantastic for the manager, but our goal is to reach the top four in our first season together.

"I think Arsene Wenger is always saying the right things - for any club, the Champions League is the highest level. To finish in the top four, it's a fantastic achievement and more so for Manchester United."

The manager believes his side made had their best away performance of the season in the 1-0 victory over Newcastle United on 5 March.

And when questioned whether they would need to replicate their best form to beat the Gunners, Van Gaal said: "It's difficult to say because Arsenal can also be at their best, but they might not be so good.

"It depends on your opponent, but usually against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea you have to be at your best. In this league, when you're not, it's difficult to beat an opponent. We saw that yesterday, you need some luck, Rooney's goal was ruled out [for offside], there are a lot of aspects you can't control."

Meanwhile, the manager confirmed all squad members are available for the game, including Luke Shaw even though the left-back missed the game against Newcastle.

Furthermore the boss backed Jonny Evans, who has been charged by the FA, after the centre-back made an statement to deny spitting at Papiss Cisse during the game at St James Park.

"As I've said in last night's press conference, Jonny was not aware that he was spitting. It's a natural thing for a human being, it wasn't his intention. I cannot imagine that Jonny Evans could do something like that, and he's also said that. I believe him, so the matter is done. I think the FA is very wise."