Arsenal hold the edge as they draw Chelsea again

Phil Casey
Tuesday 27 January 2004 01:00

Arsenal will have history on their side and a psychological edge when they face Chelsea in the FA Cup next month. The holders, chasing a third consecutive title, drew home advantage against Claudio Ranieri's side, who scraped past Scarborough 1-0 in the fourth round on Saturday. Recent results also point to Arsène Wenger's side taking another step towards the Millennium Stadium.

It is the fourth season in a row the teams have met in the competition, Arsenal winning 3-1 in the fifth round in 2001, 2-0 in the 2002 final, and 3-1 last year in a quarter-final replay. Chelsea have not won at Highbury in more than 10 years and the former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn said: "The two teams will be sick of playing each other. From Arsenal's point of view, they've probably got a psychological advantage."

The other eye-catching tie is a potential Manchester derby with United drawn at home against Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs will be favourites to make the trip to Old Trafford after holding City to a 1-1 draw at the City of Manchester Stadium on Sunday.

Members of Swansea City's squad could not hide their disappointment after being drawn to face Tranmere Rovers in the last 16. The Third Division side produced the result of the fourth round in disposing of Preston North End, and Lee Trundle, who scored the winner on Saturday and is confident of playing in the fifth round wearing a protective face mask after suffering a broken cheekbone, said: "With all respect to Tranmere you've got to feel a bit disappointed. At this stage of the competition you would expect to draw a Premiership side."

The Football Association, meanwhile, will consider disciplinary action against clubs who field weakened teams in the FA Cup. They are concerned at the attitude of men like Sam Allardyce, the Bolton manager, who said he was "glad" when his under-strength side were beaten by Tranmere at the Reebok Stadium in the third round.

"It has not gone unnoticed that some clubs have not fielded anything like their strongest teams this season," the FA's director of communications, Colin Gibson, said. "We will not be taking any disciplinary action on this occasion but in future we will be monitoring this area of the game very closely."


Man Utd v Man City or Tottenham
Tranmere Rovers v Swansea City
Telford Utd or Millwall v Burnley
Sunderland v Birmingham City
Sheff Utd v Coventry City or Colchester
Arsenal v Chelsea
Liverpool v Portsmouth
Everton or Fulham v West Ham Utd

Ties to be played over the weekend of 14 to 15 February.

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