Monday, January 28, 2008

FA Cup 5th Round Draw Revealed

The draw for the 5th Round of the FA Cup was conducted at 8:30 Eastern Time this morning and I have to say, there are some very interesting ties that will be worth watching.

Here's the complete draw (Premiership teams are in bold, home teams are listed first):

Bristol Rovers v Southampton
Cardiff City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Sheffield United v Middlesbrough
Liverpool v Barnsley
Manchester United v Arsenal
Preston North End v Portsmouth
Coventry City v West Bromwich Albion
Chelsea v Huddersfield Town

If you're a fan of lower-league soccer, this is a mixed bag. Huddersfield Town and Bristol Rovers (both in League One) are the lowest-ranked teams left at this stage, and while the former has no chance to advance, Bristol Rovers could very well pull off an upset. You're guaranteed to see either Cardiff or Wolves move on and either Coventry or West Brom as well. Other than that, the pickings are slim.

I don't think I'm going out any real limb in predicting that Sheffield United will beat Middlesbrough at Brammall Lane. I know they're only in 14th place right now in the Championship, but this is a team that has already beaten Bolton and Manchester City in the FA Cup this year and Middlesbrough are struggling in the Premier League and could be without Jonathan Woodgate as well. If all else fails, maybe someone at Sheffield United can steal some more money from the visiting team's locker room.

Liverpool have been lucky enough to draw lower-league sides in both of their previous FA Cup ties and the trend continues in this round as the Reds will host Barnsley, who currently occupy 16th place in the Championship.

David Nugent will make his return to Preston as his current club, Portsmouth, heads to the North West and Deepdale. Preston are really struggling this year without Nugent (22nd in the Championship) but both they and their fans will really be up for this game, particularly if Nugent is playing.

Undoubtedly, the tie of the round is Manchester United-Arsenal, although it will be interesting to see what sort of team Arsene Wenger trots out at Old Trafford. Will he go with the kids as he does in most cup games, or will he go with a more traditional side since this is a big, big matchup? We'll see.

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