If it's the FA Cup then it must be Arsenal against Bolton Wanderers. Arsène Wenger's side were paired with their bêtes noires for the third year running yesterday as the fourth-round draw also presented home ties to Manchester United and Chelsea.
Under Sam Allardyce, Bolton have become a bogey team to Arsenal, losing only one of their last seven meetings. In 2005, the Gunners beat Bolton in the quarter-final en route to the final, but the Lancashire club took revenge last season. By winning the recent Premiership fixture 3-1 at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton underlined their capacity to get up the noses of Wenger's men with a combination of brute force, ruthless set-pieces and Nicolas Anelka's penchant for goals against former employers.
Allardyce's selections have led to him being accused of disrespecting the FA Cup but, this time, lying just one rung below Arsenal in fifth place, the Bolton chairman, Phil Gartside, hinted at a full-strength line-up at the Emirates Stadium. "When we were first in the Premier League we were keen to stay up," he said. "Now we've built the squad, we're taking the Cup seriously. And we're keen to win it."
In another collision of members of the top six, Portsmouth visit Old Trafford, where they last beat United in the League 50 years ago in October. However, Harry Redknapp knows what it takes to prevail over Sir Alex Ferguson on his own patch in this competition, having guided West Ham to a fourth-round victory six years ago.
"It's a tough draw and they're a great side," the Pompey manager said. "But it's a fantastic stadium and I'm looking forward to it."
Two of the Premiership's bottom three, West Ham and Watford, will also meet, with last season's beaten finalists again drawn at home.
The only sadness surrounding the collision of Chelsea and Nottingham Forest is that Brian Clough is not around to pontificate on Jose Mourinho. If Forest, third in League One, were to dispatch the champions as they did Charlton, it would qualify as a giant-killing, although one of these clubs has two European Cup triumphs to its name and it is not Chelsea.
Swansea's chairman, Huw Jenkins, admitted that the team sitting sixth in the third tier had wanted "one of the big guns away". However, a trip to Ipswich or Chester was scant reward for the elimination of Sheffield United.
The only League Two team definitely through, Bristol Rovers, were sent to Championship promotion contenders Derby.
FA Cup fourth-round draw
Arsenal v Bolton
West Ham v Watford
Bristol City or Coventry v Hull or Middlesbrough
Chelsea v Nott'm Forest
Chester or Ipswich v Swansea
Cardiff or Tottenham v Southend or Barnsley
Barnet or Colchester v Peterboro or Plymouth
Birmingham or Newcastle v Reading or Burnley
Derby v Bristol Rovers
Sheff Wed or Man City v Southampton
Crystal Palace v Preston
Man Utd v Portsmouth
Blackpool v Norwich
QPR or Luton v Blackburn
Wolves or Oldham v WBA
Leicester or Fulham v Stoke CIty
(Matches to be played the weekend of 27-28 January)Reuse content