The fourth round draw of the FA Cup threw up one stand-out fixture, a North-East derby, the potential for six all Premier League clashes, and the certainty that at least one League One side will make it to the fifth round.
If Manchester United are to win the trophy this season they’ll have to follow up their derby win with victory over their bitterest rivals, Liverpool.
It will be the first meeting of the sides since the now infamous clash 1-1 draw in October at Anfield which resulted in Luis Suarez being banned for eight games for racially abusing Patrice Evra.
Suarez will still be serving his ban for the FA Cup clash at Anfield, but the atmosphere on and off the pitch will be heightened by recent events.
The other certain all-Premier League encounters hardly set the pulse racing with West Brom hosting Norwich, and Fulham travelling to Everton.
The new Queens Park Rangers boss – Mark Hughes the most likely to replace the sacked Neil Warnock – will be in the Loftus Road dug-out for the visit of MK Dons in his first home game in charge, with the tempting prospect of a home fourth round draw against Chelsea for the winners.
That throws up the possibility of John Terry returning to Queens Park Rangers just a few days before his appearance in front of West London Magistrates to answer a charge of a racially aggravated public order offence following his altercation with Rangers’ Anton Ferdinand in October last year.
Middlesbrough who edged past League Two Shrewsbury with a goal from Marvin Emnes, have been rewarded with a 30-mile trip up the A19 to face Sunderland, revitalised under new boss Martin O’Neill.
North East rivals Newcastle United, helped to a 2-1 win over Blackburn on Saturday thanks to a wonder-goal from Hatem Ben Arfa, will travel to either Wrexham or Brighton in the fifth round and the all-League One clash sees Stevenage play Notts County.
Full draw: Brighton or Wrexham v Newcastle, Sunderland v Middlesbrough, Dagenham & Redbridge or Millwall v Southampton, Hull City v Crawley, MK Dons or QPR v Chelsea, West Brom v Norwich, Blackpool v Sheffield Wednesday, Arsenal or Leeds v Aston Villa, Stevenage v Notts County, Watford v Tottenham, Liverpool v Manchester United, Derby v Stoke, Everton v Fulham, Macclesfield Town or Bolton v Swansea, Sheffield United v Birmingham v Wolves, Nottingham Forest or Leicester v Swindon. Ties to be played weekend of 28/29 January.
Tags: Anton Ferdinand, Chelsea, FA Cup, John Terry, Liverpool, Luis Suarez, Manchester United, Patrice Evra, Queens Park Rangers