Manchester City and Manchester United can’t avoid one another these days, and after adding Carling Cup and FA Cup semi-finals and a Community Shield clash to their Premier League scraps in recent times, are about to meet again.
The Premier League’s top two were handed one another in Sunday’s FA Cup third round draw, marking the third season in a row that the Red Devils will oppose a fierce rival after facing Liverpool last year and Leeds before that.
And though Manchester City, winners when they collided in the semi-finals at Wembley in April, will be favourites on account of their home advantage, the pairing isn’t considered good news for either side.
Roberto Mancini’s holders remain favourites to lift the trophy again but have drifted from 5/1 to 11/2, while Manchester United have dropped from second to joint-fourth in the pecking order, with their price sailing out from 6/1 to 8/1.
Chief beneficiaries are perceived to be Chelsea, always contenders having gone all the way in three of the five campaigns since the final returned to Wembley, yet fancied even more after receiving a home draw against Portsmouth.
Pompey have reached the final in two of the last four years, losing to Chelsea in the 2009-10 showpiece, however they have fallen a long way in a short period since, so aren’t expected to trouble the Blues, who are in from 7/1 to 6/1.
Arsenal meanwhile will have to see off the threat of Leeds for the second successive season, and despite the Whites being one of the toughest lower league teams that they could have met, their odds have also been cut from 8/1 to 7/1.
Tottenham (8/1) will host Cheltenham and Liverpool (9/1) entertain Southend or Oldham, whereas 2010-11 runners-up Stoke (25/1) face an intriguing trip to Tony Pulis’ former club Gillingham, who dumped out League One pair Bournemouth and Leyton Orient.