A lot of people weren’t sure what to think when Gary Lineker drew us against Middlesbrough FC in the FA Cup fifth round, but I believe we have received an extremely favourable draw.
The Championship side managed to knock out Manchester City in the last leg, so obviously can’t be taken lightly. We have avoided a number of tricky matches with Premier League opposition however, and most importantly have been drawn at home.
Our fantastic winning run in the FA Cup can be partially credited to the fact that a huge number of our draws have been at home. We have been far better at the Emirates recently, and playing a lower league team on their own pitch can often be a huge disadvantage.
No other Premier League side has been drawn at home against lower league opposition, and a number of the English top flight will be meeting in the next round.
Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion will face Leicester City and West Ham respectively, while Crystal Palace will host Liverpool if Brendan Rodgers’ side can get past Bolton.
Manchester United are expected to beat Cambridge United in the return leg at Old Trafford, and will be rewarded with a trip to either Preston North End or Sheffield United. Louis van Gaal’s side will be expected to beat either, but both teams will be hopeful of pinching a home win after seeing Cambridge’s superb performance.
The last time we met Middlesbrough in the competition was back in 2004, with Dennis Bergkamp and Freddie Ljungberg contributing to the 4-1 win.
Smoggies boss Aitor Karanka will be hopeful his side can continue their fairy tale run, and will be full of confidence after their clash with the Premier League champions. We also have plenty of reason to be confident however, and should see ourselves comfortably into the semi-finals.