Manchester City v United in cup revenge cracker
Manchester will be the epicentre of the third round of the FA Cup after City were drawn to play United yesterday.
Nine months after knocking them out at the semi-final stage — and three months after inflicting on Sir Alex Ferguson his greatest managerial defeat — Roberto Mancini will lead City out against United at the Etihad Stadium on the weekend of January 7-8.
It offers United an early chance to exact revenge for that 6-1 Premier League defeat by knocking out the holders and their greatest rivals with defender Rio Ferdinand posting on Twitter: “Can’t wait.”
Equally it provides City with an opportunity to further reinforce their credentials as the new kings of Manchester. It is the toughest imaginable opening to a defence of the FA Cup and it will be only the second time that City will have played at home against United in the competition.
In 1955, they beat United 2-0 at Maine Road and went on to reach the final.
For the third successive time, United have been given a third-round draw against one of their great rivals.
In 2010, they were beaten 1-0 by Leeds United and last season they faced Liverpool at Old Trafford.
Chelsea, in contrast, have continued their habit of straightforward-looking FA Cup ties at home.
Portsmouth are the eighth successive lower-league club to bedrawn to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the third round, in a re-run of the 2010 final that sealed the second part of Carlo Ancelotti's double, Didier Drogba securing a 1-0 win.
Just as they did in last year's third round, Arsenal have been drawn to play Leeds at the Emirates.
Tottenham’s tie with Cheltenham would have been a little more daunting for Harry Redknapp's side had they been required to play at Whaddon Road rather than White Hart Lane.
Tamworth will be grateful for the extra revenue a third-round tie at Goodison Park will produce, and will be aware Everton have been vulnerable to cup upsets.
The reward for the winners of the replay between Southend and Oldham is a trip to Anfield. Should Paul Sturrock's men prevail, it will set up a sixth meeting between Southend and Liverpool in the competition, although Liverpool have won only twice.
There are two other fascinating encounters. One will be an authentic third-round tie where a Premier League club travels down the divisions as Aston Villa go to Bristol Rovers.
The other sees the Stoke manager, Tony Pulis, return to Gillingham, the club he led to the 1999 play-off final that should have seen Manchester City remain in the third tier of English football.
That they won the penalty shoot-out, began the sequence of events that will see them take on Manchester United in the third round and be favourites to win.
FA Cup Third round draw
Middlesbrough v Shrewsbury
Nottingham Forest v Leicester
Manchester City v Manchester United
Dagenham & Redbridge/Walsall v |Millwall
Crawley v Bristol City
Doncaster v Notts County
Bristol Rovers v Aston Villa
Tottenham v Cheltenham
Sheffield Wednesday v West Ham
MK Dons v QPR
Hull v Ipswich
Coventry v Southampton
Brighton v Wrexham
Fulham v Charlton
Birmingham v Wolves
Norwich v Burnley
Arsenal v Leeds
Derby v Crystal Palace
Fleetwood/Yeovil v Blackpool
Swindon v Wigan
Barnsley v Swansea
Chelmsford/Macclesfield v Bolton
Newcastle v Blackburn
Everton v Tamworth
Sheffield United v Salisbury/Grimsby
Liverpool v Southend/Oldham
Gillingham v Stoke
Chelsea v Portsmouth
Watford v Bradford
Peterborough v Sunderland
West Brom v Cardiff
Reading v Stevenage
Ties will be played the weekend |of January 7-8.