FA Cup Quarter-Final Draw: Red, Might, and Blue?
The random bracket wackiness of each FA Cup draw begets various perspectives of anticipation.
Here are the quarter-final pairings, scheduled to be played Saturday 9 March (with television considerations pending):
|Oldham or Everton||vs||Wigan Athletic|
|Manchester United||vs||Chelsea or Middlesbrough|
Middlesbrough is having a decent season in the Championship so far, challenging for a promotion. That they have been reduced to an afterthought in this round can only serve to inspire them. Yeah, right. They won't be playing these matches at Pinewood Studios. However, they do get the Blues at home on Wednesday 27 February. Should 'Boro prevail, their reward is the Red Devils at Old Trafford.
If nothing else, they'll get one or two reminders this round of what's ahead if they win promotion to the Premiership. More importantly, they'll get a great payday for hosting Chelsea.
A great payday is what Wigan Athletic covets, so it will be cheering for Everton, who are due to swell Oldham's coffers on Wednesday 27 February. It could be the Latics' last big gate before their relegation dramas heat up in the springtime.
Blackburn Rovers created a firestorm by bouncing Arsenal from the competition. That can happen when the Gunners get elminated by a lower-division side for the first time in their rich history. In doing so, Blackburn enters the Lions' Den at Millwall, who have another sort of history when it comes to firestorms. At least the last round's ironic pairing against Luton Town was tame by the standards of a certain element in Millwall's support.
A note to Barnsley: the end is near. Either for them or for City's manager, Roberto Mancini. Most likely, them.
Waiting patiently is Manchester United. As if the Red Devils don't have enough success already, they still manage to frame themselves as avengers of fate. Given that the wiry and wily Sir Alex Ferguson is one of sport's best trash-talkers, there is little doubt he's dusting off his best insults should he meet Chelsea and manager Rafael Benitez in March. They still don't like each other. At all. That could be more fun than the match.