After a FA Cup third round weekend that saw several near misses for the so-called ‘minnows’ of English (and Welsh) Football, besides some notable scalps for Rochdale, Preston North End and Sheffield United, the fourth round draw has thrown up another romantic tie with Cambridge United paired to host the mighty Manchester United. Having seen off fellow Division Two side, Luton Town, in the third round, the ‘U’s are now the lowest ranked side left in the competition, and they face one of the biggest teams in the country at the Abbey Stadium.

It is an additional bonus for the side after they beat Luton 2-1 to earn £67,500 and made the fourth round draw for the first time in fifteen years. Their star-studded opponents, eleven times winners of the famous prize, had a closer than expected 2-0 win over Yeovil to secure their place in the ‘hat’, and will now look to repeat their success against a team they last faced in 1991 in the League Cup (a tie that United won over the two legs).

Of the lower league clubs that enjoyed success over sides in higher divisions, Division One Rochdale who knocked out Stuart Pearce’s Nottingham Forest, were handed an intriguing home draw with Premier League Stoke City and Sheffield United’s reward for beating Premier League QPR is another away trip to Preston North End (conquerors of Norwich City).

The top two in the Premier League table were both given home draws in the next round. Manchester City, who struggled before eventually overcoming Sheffield Wednesday have been paired with high-flying Championship side, Middlesbrough in what should be another test of their mettle at the Etihad. Chelsea were given what looks like a good draw at home to either Millwall or Bradford City, who will need a replay to decide who travels to Stamford Bridge for that honour.

Of the other ties, holders Arsenal will fancy their chances at Championship strugglers, Brighton, while there is a potentially volatile Midlands battle in store when Birmingham City take on West Brom. Aston Villa have the dubious privilege of hosting free-scoring Bournemouth, in what could be an entertaining match.

The fourth round ties are due to be played on 24th / 25th January.

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