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Manchester grudge match in the FA Cup

The FA Cup briefly offered a taste of the excitement of the glory years when the draw was made for the 3rd round. Premier League leaders Manchester City were drawn to face second-placed local rivals Manchester United in the pick of the ties. The match will be played at City’s Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City have been getting under Sir Alex Ferguson’s skin ever since their Middle Eastern investors turned City into genuine title contenders. Ferguson has described the club as the "noisy neighbours". Now, not only might they outstrip United in the Premier League, but they could also eliminate them from the Cup at the first opportunity.

City manager Roberto Mancini and players like Sergio Aguero, Maria Balotelli and David Silva might not appreciate the importance of the FA Cup, but there are still a few Englishmen at the club, like Adam Johnson, Micah Richards, Joe Hart and Gareth Barry who can spell it out.

United’s Javier Hernandez will miss the tie after injuring ligaments in the league match against Aston Villa. He joins Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov in the United treatment room.

The draw offered up a few other intriguing pairings. Arsenal will play Leeds United in a repeat of the 1972 final, for those with long memories. Leeds won 1-0 on that occasion. Non-league side Tamworth landed a tie against David Moyes’s Everton, whose current form suggests an upset is not entirely out of the question.

The FA Cup 3rd round ties will be played on January 7 and 8.

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