Why Arsenal should be happiest with FA Cup fifth round draw
Gunners handed home draw against Middlesbrough as Bradford face Sunderland or Fulham
The draw for the FA Cup fifth round has been made and the big-name survivors after a weekend of carnage have been kept apart in a draw that will see a maximum of three all Premier League matches. Meanwhile, the heroes of last weekend have been handed different challenges and of the Premier League teams still in the competition Arsenal will be the happiest, as they are likely to be the only top tier side playing lower league opposition at home.
Middlesbrough's reward for knocking Manchester City out of the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday is an away trip to the Emirates to face the Gunners. It's another daunting prospect for the Teeside club, a clash with the holders and favourites, but it will also be another money-spinning game for the Championship side.
The last time the two clubs met in the competition was 2004, when their fourth round encounter ended in a 4-1 victory for the Gunners at Highbury with goals from Dennis Bergkamp, David Bentley and a brace from Freddie Ljungberg. Reaction from Arsenal fans on social networks to the draw was overwhelmingly bullish, personified by their unofficial spokesman and loudmouth, Piers Morgan, who tweeted: "BREAKING NEWS: Middlesbrough knocked out of FA Cup. Congrats on a great run." Words, that should Arsenal stumble against Boro, will come back to haunt him.
The other big giant-killers from the weekend, League One side Bradford, have been handed an easier draw, a home tie against the winner of the replay between Sunderland or Fulham. Asked who he fancied meeting in the fifth round, Bradford co-chairman Mark Lawn replied: "Sunderland to be fair. We're at home and I think we can win at home. When we get this stadium bouncing I don't think any team will want to come here."
Liverpool's incentive for beating Bolton Wanderers in next week's replay is a trip to Crystal Palace in the fifth round, although recent form suggests the Reds would travel to south London as underdogs. Liverpool have failed to win in their last six visits to Selhurst Park and Brendan Rodgers' boys lost 3-1 at Palace when the two sides met earlier in the season in the Premier League. The Eagles, meanwhile, are unbeaten since Boxing Day and have four wins from four under Pardew.
Like Liverpool, Manchester United will have to replay their fourth round tie although they should have little troubling seeing off Cambridge (the lowest ranked side still in the competition) at Old Trafford on Tuesday week. Assuming they do, United – who are second favourites for the cup – will travel to either Preston or Sheffield United, who also replay in seven days' time.
Stoke City negotiated their way past junior opposition without any trouble on Monday evening in the closing tie of the fourth round proper, thrashing League One's Rochdale 4-1 to set up an away trip to Blackburn Rovers.
Preston North End or Sheffield United v Cambridge United or Manchester United
Derby County v Reading
Blackburn Rovers v Stoke City
Bradford City v Sunderland or Fulham
West Bromwich Albion v West Ham
Aston Villa v Leicester City
Arsenal v Middlesbrough
Crystal Palace v Liverpool or Bolton
Ties will be played across the weekend of 14 and 15 February 2015.