Liverpool must have thought that their day couldn’t have got any worse yesterday after conceding a late goal and losing 2-1 to Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Rather than providing them with any crumb of comfort, the FA Cup third round draw handed Roy Hodgson’s side the toughest task of them all.
A daunting trip to Old Trafford awaits Liverpool in the most high-profile showdown on January 8-9 — a mouthwatering tie for fans of the two northern giants
But the game could come too soon for defender Jamie Carragher who is in the treatment room repairing a dislocated shoulder.
It was a day when manager Hodgson could draw little comfort. And for no-nonsense Carragher — the type of character Liverpool need in the middle of what could be a winter of discontent — it was a bittersweet day.
“It’s his 450th Premier League appearance today, a record of which he is rightly proud — and now we will be without him and Steven Gerrard for a while. They they are the lifeblood of our club,” said Hodgson.
“We've got (Daniel) Agger who's still injured, so we're not really that well blessed with centre-halves. We've been pretty lucky with injuries, to be fair.
“The injury to Steven Gerrard came at the wrong time. Agger's more of a long-term matter.
“We're still not too badly off but I think you've got some teams in the Premier League who have got more injury problems than we have. But ours seem to have come in the same position.”
To compound the Merseysiders’ misery, Aaron Lennon’s injury-time winner sunk them in London.
Spurs had gone behind when Martin Skrtel stabbed in from 10 yards and although Jermain Defoe missed a penalty, an own goal from Skrtel sparked the fightback, with Lennon grabbing the headlines.
The result leaves Liverpool sweating even more on a top-four finish that will book a place at Europe’s top table.
The FA Cup will be a welcome break from the trials and tribulations of a league campaign that has failed to take off.
Liverpool fans who are used to seeing a bulging trophy cabinet will be desperate to see their team lift the glittering prize for the first time since 2006.
But they are going to have to do it the hard way — by firstly beating a Manchester United side that appears to have shaken off its early season blues.
It’s the only all-Premier League tie in the last-64 draw for the world's oldest major knockout
football competition, but it couldn’t be tastier.
It will be an eagerly-awaited showdown between the two most successful clubs in English history, who are tied on 18 league titles each.
United are the most successful team in the history of the FA Cup, having won it 11 times.
One of those victories came in 1996, when a late goal from Eric Cantona clinched a 1-0 win over Pool and brought United their second league and cup Double.
The Red Devils also denied Liverpool what would have been an unprecedented treble of League, FA Cup and European Cup triumphs in the same season with a 2-1 win at Wembley in the 1977 final.
And United stunned their bitter rivals in the 1999 competition, winning 2-1 at Old Trafford with Ole Gunnar Solskaer breaking Liverpool hearts.
But the heavyweight clash has failed to excite Hodgson who said: “It will be an excellent game of football but it’s a bit unfortunate that two Premier League teams of the quality of Manchester United and Liverpool get drawn together in the third round. I always feel that’s a bit sad.
“It’ll be a cracking game of football. No doubt we’ll find ourselves on TV again. We seem to be on TV every week, so I better get my make-up ready.”
FC United of Manchester, the club formed in protest against the ownership of Manchester United by the Glazer family, will host last year's beaten finalists Portsmouth should they overcome Brighton and Hove Albion in their second round replay on December 8. Arsenal, 10 times winners of the FA Cup, will host Leeds United. Having been relegated from the Premier League in 2004, this will be Leeds’ first match at the Emirates Stadium, into which Arsenal moved in 2006.
Current FA Cup holders Chelsea also face a home tie with a Championship club, and will be visited by Roy Keane's Ipswich Town.
Draw-makers Serge Pizzorno and Noel Gallagher were celebrating after the rock stars drew their respective teams, Leicester City and Manchester City, together for a clash at the Walkers Stadium.
Roberto Mancini will now come face to face with his mentor Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Mancini played for Eriksson at both Sampdoria and Lazio and later became Eriksson's assistant at Lazio. Moreover, both managers will be re-united with former clubs. Eriksson will meet Manchester City for the first time since his dismissal as manager in June 2008, after a reign that lasted only one season. Mancini played briefly for Leicester City in 2001. There are a few unfamiliar trips for Premier League clubs. Newcastle United will travel to Stevenage of League Two, while Everton are away at Scunthorpe United and Wolverhampton Wanderers will go to Doncaster Rovers.
Aston Villa have a potentially difficult trip to Sheffield United, as Gerard Houllier returns to the competition that he won as Liverpool manager in 2001. The ties will be played on the weekend of January 8-9 with the final at Wembley Stadium on May 14.
Burnley v Port Vale
Coventry v Crystal Palace
Bristol City v Sheffield Wednesday
Fulham v Peterborough
Doncaster v Wolves
Brighton or FC United of Manchester v Portsmouth
Huddersfield v Dover Athletic
Crawley Town or Swindon v Derby
West Ham v Barnsley
Reading v West Brom
Arsenal v Leeds
Sheffield Utd v Aston Villa
Leicester v Man City
Bolton v York
Blackburn v QPR
Swansea v Colchester
Wycombe v Hereford or|Lincoln
Stevenage v Newcastle
Burton Albion v M’Boro
Millwall v Birmingham
Southampton v Blackpool
Watford v Hartlepool or Yeovil
Chelsea v Ipswich
Sunderland v Notts County or Bournemouth
Scunthorpe v Everton
Man Utd v Liverpool
Hull v Wigan
Stoke v Cardiff
Tottenham v Charlton or Luton
Preston v Nottingham Forest
Norwich v Droylsden or |Leyton Orient
Torquay v Carlisle
Matches to be played the weekend of January 8 and 9