By Sam Holden
Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has already masterminded a famous FA Cup victory against Manchester United and will hope to do it again when they visit his League One side in the fifth round on Monday (9.45pm).
Grayson was in charge of Leeds United, then a third-tier side themselves, when they won 1-0 at Old Trafford in 2010 to become the first lower league opposition to beat an Alex Ferguson-led United team in the third round.
After a fourth round in which the FA Cup rekindled its old magic with the exits of the Premier League leaders Chelsea and champions Manchester City to lower league opponents, the Preston boss wants to use his previous experience of conquering 11-times winners United to do it again.
A win for his third-tier side, who won the FA Cup in 1889 – when they won also won the Double in the first season of the Football League – and again in 1938 when they beat Sunderland with a penalty in the last minute of extra-time, would end Louis van Gaal’s best hope of his first trophy as United manager, with the league seemingly out of reach.
Preston and United were regular opponents until 1961 when Preston lost their top-flight status and Grayson hopes their first meeting since United beat Preston in the FA Cup 43 years ago will be as memorable for him as that victory over Leeds was five years ago.
“It was a fantastic occasion that day,” Grayson said. “This is a different United team but one we will look forward to playing.
“The football club deserves it, because we have not had any ties like this over the last few years.
“I’m sure Deepdale will be full and it’s a massive boost for us. The profile of the game makes it a fantastic attraction.”
Aston Villa are another club with a great, if fading, FA Cup tradition, and when they beat Manchester United in 1957 they secured a then-record seventh FA Cup final win.
They haven’t won it since, but of far more immediate concern to the Villa is how they cope with fellow Premier League strugglers Leicester City on Sunday (2.30pm) following the sacking of manager Paul Lambert on Wednesday.
Villa dropped into the relegation zone for the first time this season after losing to Hull City on Tuesday with caretakers Scott Marshall and Andy Marshall hoping for some respite against the Premier League’s bottom side Leicester, the only club to play in four FA Cup finals and lose all of them.
Bradford City who caused one of the biggest FA Cup upsets in decades when they won 4-2 at Chelsea in the last round and are in the playoff places in League One, will be hoping for another upset when they face Premier League side Sunderland at home on Sunday (4.30pm).
Liverpool, the seven-time winners, travel to Crystal Palace, who famously beat them 4-3 in the 1990 semi-final when current Eagles boss Alan Pardew scored the extra time winner.
Liverpool will be without Steven Gerrard, hoping to play his last match for Liverpool in the final on his 35th birthday on May 30, because he is out for three weeks with a hamstring injury.