Fergie faces Wenger in worthy tie of the round

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The Independent Online

The draw for the third round of the Worthington Cup, which took place yesterday, has thrown up a number of intriguing encounters.

Most notable of all is Manchester United's visit to Arsenal, although fans should perhaps not get too excited, as Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger have both had a tendency to field weakened teams for League Cup ties.

Pride, not to mention TV rights, may play a part in the managers' ultimate decision, but you sense this match may not have the competitive edge of a Premiership encounter.

Other noteworthy ties include Tranmere v Tottenham. Liverpool's third club may be languishing in the Second Division these days, but their record in knock-out competitions is good. Two seasons ago, they reached the Worthington Cup final before losing to Leicester. Last year, they defeated Everton en route to an FA Cup quarter-final against Liverpool. Spurs, though, have a good Cup tradition themselves and won this trophy in 1999.

There are a number of matches between Premiership clubs, including Blackburn v Middlesbrough, Fulham v Derby and Leicester v Leeds. For most of the above clubs, the Worthington Cup may be their best opportunity of European qualification next season. For Leeds, who harbour Champions' League ambitions, the League Cup offers another chance of some silverware.

Chelsea and Southampton will have to be careful at Coventry and Gillingham.

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