Arsenal for real

OK, perhaps the Manchester United programme’s editorial team had a point after all.

It’s now 10 consecutive FA Cup ties against Premier League opposition for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Not since they were drawn away at Wolves in the fourth round two seasons ago have United been paired with a side from outside the top flight.

At least United’s official website is a little more subtle about being miffed than yesterday’s programme for the tie against Tottenham.

“The Reds may feel slightly unfortunate to have drawn such difficult opponents, especially as Chelsea and Liverpool have been handed home ties against Huddersfield and Barnsley respectively,” sighs the web report.

Ah, that’s a tough draw for Liverpool, though. After all, the last time Barnsley played at Anfield, they won (1-0, Premiership, November 1997). And the Merseysiders haven’t beaten Barnsley at home since 1959. (Admittedly, they’ve only played each other twice at Anfield since then, but it sounds like an impressive statistic until you add that caveat.)

And Huddersfield knocked Chelsea out of the League Cup at Stamford Bridge in 1999; as well as almost dumping them out of the FA Cup in west London two seasons ago.

So you see? Tricky, tricky draws for Chelsea and Liverpool. I’m still betting on an Arsenal v Chelsea final, though, just as I did before the third-round ties took place at the start of this month. Well, either that or a Huddersfield v Barnsley final.

And United should curse their fortune too much. After all, luck is a relative concept. I thought Manchester City were unlucky enough to be beaten by a stray balloon at Sheffield United; then I read today that their dressing room was burgled during the match as well.

“So that’s what they call the Steal City,” wrote one wag on the Manchester Evening News website. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.

In those circumstances, a home cup draw against Arsenal maybe ain’t so bad, eh?

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