Football FA Cup: Meeting of giants for Old Trafford

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MANCHESTER UNITED jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire when victory over Middlesbrough handed them an FA Cup fourth round tie with their arch-rivals Liverpool.

United's manager, Alex Ferguson, savoured the prospect of a Cup clash of the giants. "It's a belter, it's fantastic," he said. "There are some terrific ties in the next round, but Manchester United v Liverpool is always a big game.

Liverpool's England striker Michael Owen, who opened the scoring in his side's comfortable 3-0 victory at Port Vale yesterday from the penalty spot, said: "I don't think you can get much tougher than that.

"It's a difficult draw for us, especially being away from home. We thought this was a reasonably tough game, but the next round is a massive game. It's a great tie. Manchester United are a great side flying high in the league."

Portsmouth, who put out the Premiership strugglers Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, face a wait to see whether they will face top-flight or non-League opposition.

Pompey drew either Leeds United or the Football Conference side Rushden & Diamonds, who played a 0-0 draw at Nene Park with David O'Leary's side hanging on after having the defender Jonathon Woodgate sent off.

Portsmouth's striker Steve Claridge, who scored the only goal at Forest, was gearing up for a major day at Fratton Park. "I think it will more than likely be Leeds," he said. "It's a difficult tie, but we're at home and that's all we can ask. It's a massive boost for the boardroom as well - it means we'll get paid next month, which is handy!"

Newcastle's 10-man heroics against Crystal Palace set up a home tie with Bradford City, who currently stand fourth in the First Division and secured their place in the hat with a 2-1 home win over Grimsby.

Newcastle's manager, Ruud Gullit, said: "As in any cup competition, it's vital to come out of the hat first. Our match against Crystal Palace showed just how important our magnificent supporters are.

"Bradford City are having a good season in the First Division, so we shall afford them every respect."

Wimbledon face a London derby against Tottenham. The tie will be a dress rehearsal for the Worthington Cup semi-final, the first leg of which is scheduled to take place four days later.


Sheffield Wednesday v Stockport

Wolves v Preston or Arsenal

Bristol Rovers v Leyton Orient

Wrexham v Huddersfield

Portsmouth v Rushden or Leeds

Oxford Utd v Chelsea

Sheffield Utd or Notts County v Cardiff or Yeovil

Swindon or Barnsley v Bournemouth

Newcastle Utd v Bradford City

Leicester City v Coventry City

Aston Villa v Southampton or Fulham

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland

West Ham or Swansea v Derby

Manchester Utd v Liverpool

Wimbledon v Tottenham

Everton v Ipswich

Ties to be played 23 or 24 January