The draw took place following the conclusion of Wolves’ impressive victory over Liverpool. Former Tottenham nemesis Robbie Keane and one-time Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme had the task of picking the numbered balls to reveal the fixtures for the remaining 32 teams.
Meanwhile Arsenal’s shiny number 19 ball remained in the hat.
Every time the possibility of a tantalizing trip to some far-flung lower league side came along, Arsenal was not chosen. Unfortunately this year there will be no travels to locales such as Doncaster, Accrington, Portsmouth or Barnet.
Arsenal were one of just four balls remaining along with Manchester United, Crystal Place and Tottenham. As Keane giggled at the possibility of another North London derby he pulled Arsenal as the home side. Instead of Spurs, Ikeme revealed Manchester United as the opponent.
Some fans, like me, will complain that we were handed a rather tough draw while other clubs got much easier fixtures. However, there are several reasons that this is a good challenge for Unai Emery’s side.
1. Lower league doesn’t always mean easy. Arsenal fans don’t have to look too far back to see that no opposition should be taken lightly. It was one year ago today that the Gunners were knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round at Nottingham Forest.
2. While Arsenal vs. Manchester United in 2019 is not the same as the teams of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, they are still two of the most successful clubs in English football history.
3. Arsenal went 22 matches unbeaten and all we heard from the media is that the Gunners had played no team of significance. Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (who I do admire), United have won five in a row versus lower table competition. Now the media are acting like the Red Sea has parted. This is a chance for Arsenal to step up and show that they should not be taken lightly.
The next round matches are scheduled for the weekend of January 25-28.
The complete draw is as follows:
- Swansea v Gillingham
- AFC Wimbledon v West Ham
- Shrewsbury or Stoke v Wolves
- Millwall v Everton
- Brighton v West Brom
- Bristol City v Bolton
- Accrington v Derby or Southampton
- Doncaster v Oldham
- Chelsea v Sheffield Wednesday or Luton
- Newcastle or Blackburn v Watford
- Middlesbrough v Newport
- Manchester City v Burnley
- Barnet v Brentford
- Portsmouth v QPR
- Arsenal v Manchester United
- Crystal Palace v Tottenham