The Premier League title race will be put to one side this weekend as holders Manchester City FC and Manchester United FC compete for FA Cup bragging rights, rather than points, when they meet on Sunday in the pick of the third round ties.
The match at the City of Manchester Stadium is a repeat of last season's semi-final, which City won 1-0 before securing their first major trophy for 35 years by beating Stoke City FC in the final. Roberto Mancini's side subsequently won 6-1 at Old Trafford on 23 October – the Red Devils' heaviest home defeat since 1955, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson to reflect on his "worst ever day".
Both teams suffered surprise defeats during the holiday programme, United losing twice in five days to strugglers Blackburn Rovers FC at home and then at Newcastle United FC on Wednesday. City were sunk by a late goal at Sunderland AFC but Tuesday's 3-0 home victory against Liverpool FC helped them preserve a three-point lead at the top of the league.
Mancini said: "It's a difficult game, always difficult. Maybe more so in this moment because United are angry after two defeats. They are very strong after defeats. For this reason, I think it's a very tough game."
The third round draw produced just one other all-Premier League tie, Newcastle 2-1 Blackburn, but there are plenty of other eye-catching fixtures to come. Ten-time winners Arsenal FC host Leeds United AFC on Monday in a repeat of the 1972 final while Chelsea FC welcome another second-tier side, Portsmouth FC, to Stamford Bridge on Sunday in a repeat of the 2010 final, which the London outfit won 1-0.
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