There is going to be only one all-Premiership tie in the fifth round of the FA Cup, but they certainly pulled out a good one.
Manchester United and Arsenal are battling it out for the Premier League crown, and in a few weeks, one is going to knock the other out of the FA Cup, as the Big Two butt heads at Old Trafford in the tie of the cup so far.
The last time the two sides faced each other in the FA Cup was in the final in the 2004-05 season, and the tie wouldn’t be decided in 90 or 120 minutes, but in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw. It was a tie that United could have and probably should have won, but it was the Gunners who lifted the cup after a 5-4 shootout win.
The last time Arsenal won at Old Trafford was at the same stage of this competition in 2003, when the Gunners triumphed 2-0 on their way to winning the cup.
Whether or not this tie will be another classic, we’ll find out, but when these two tangle, it’s usually a good one.
That certainly was the case with their meeting at the Emirates Stadium in November, when United took the lead twice, only for Arsenal to hit back both times, including a last-minute equalizer by William Gallas to earn a 2-2 draw.
The other 14 sides left in the competition might be pretty happy that they were paired with one another, unless you’re Huddersfield, whose reward for making the fifth round is a tie at Stamford Bridge against cup holders Chelsea.
While the other ties in the competition don’t hold a candle to United-Arsenal, the draw worked out pretty well for the sides outside of the top flight.
Besides United and Chelsea, Liverpool are the only other Premiership side to have a home tie, as they host Barnsley.
As for the other ties, we’re assured of seeing three non-Premiership sides in the quarterfinals, as Bristol Rovers host Southampton, Cardiff go up against Wolves, and Coventry face West Brom.
The other two ties offer up the opportunity for more upsets as well, as Portsmouth has to travel to Preston, who routed Derby 4-1 on Saturday, and Middlesbrough face an away tie against Sheffield United, who knocked Manchester City out on Sunday, in a game that will be remembered more for ‘Balloon-gate’ than the actual result.
What will the round of 16 hold? Well, we’ll have to wait until the 16th and 17th of next month to find out.
The first few rounds have seen many upsets, twists, and turns, so maybe it’s time for a little calm. But hey, that would be boring, so hopefully more excitement is in store.
Full fifth-round draw below.
FA Cup Fifth Round Draw (Ties to be played on 16 and 17 February)
Bristol Rovers v. Southampton
Cardiff v. Wolves
Sheffield United v. Middlesbrough
Liverpool v. Barnsley
Manchester United v. Arsenal
Preston v. Portsmouth
Coventry v. West Brom
Chelsea v. Huddersfield