CRYSTAL Palace boss Alan Pardew faces a potential quirk of fate in the FA Cup fifth round, should Liverpool keep their end of the bargain and navigate a potentially treacherous replay at Championship side Bolton Wanderers.
Pardew’s Selhurst Park coronation earlier this month was greeted with recollections of his most famous moment in a Palace shirt as a player, the extra-time winner against Liverpool in the 1990 semi-final which prompted the Eagles’ sole FA Cup final appearance to date.
South London does not feature prominently on the Anfield club’s nostalgic reminiscences of late, with the Reds’ Premier League title aspirations suffering a fatal blow at Palace last term, although the in-form Trotters present their more immediate hurdle.
Aitor Karanka’s Middlesbrough have been rewarded for dispatching Manchester City with a crack at FA Cup royalty, as 11-time winners and defending champions Arsenal lie in wait at Emirates Stadium.
Manchester United have been drawn against Preston or Sheffield United if they overcome Cambridge United in their replay, while giant-killers Bradford City, surprise conquerors of Chelsea, play either Sunderland or Fulham.
West Ham are on the road again and will do battle with fellow Premier League outfit West Brom, while Midlands duo Aston Villa and Leicester City go head-to-head.
Derby entertain Reading in an all-Championship tie and Mark Hughes will return to Blackburn Rovers, the place where he cut his teeth in club management, after Stoke last night saw off League One Rochdale with a commanding 4-1 win at Spotland.
FA Cup fifth round
Crystal Palace v Liverpool or Bolton
Arsenal v Middlesbrough
Aston Villa v Leicester City
West Brom v West Ham Utd
Bradford City v Sunderland or Fulham
Blackburn Rovers v Stoke City
Derby County v Reading
Preston or Sheffield Utd v Cambridge Utd or Manchester United
Ties to be played on 14 & 15 February