Sutton United were reeling in disbelief and talking giddily about their ‘World Cup final’ after being drawn to face Arsenal at home in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
The National League part-timers, who dumped Leeds out of the Cup on Sunday, will face Arsene Wenger’s 12-time winners at Gander Green Lane.
Besides the prestige of Wenger bringing his illustrious Arsenal team to play on Sutton’s artificial surface, this tie is sure to be selected as one of the five which will be shown live on TV. This alone will bring another windfall of nearly £250,000 to the non-league side.
The other non-league side in the draw Lincoln City, leaders of the National League, who beat Championship leaders Brighton at Sincil Bank on Saturday, face a daunting tie at Premier League Burnley, who have won 10 of their 14 games at Turf Moor this season.
The five top-ranked teams still in the competition were all drawn away from home. Chelsea go to Wolves to face the conquerors of Liverpool, Tottenham cross London to Fulham, Manchester City have an awkward test at in-form Huddersfield and holders Manchester United visit Blackburn.
It is the first time in the 146-year history of the FA Cup that two non-league teams have reached the last 16 and Sutton are delirious at the prospect of a home tie against Arsenal, 108 places above them in football’s pyramid.
‘I had to pick myself up off the floor,’ said manager Paul Doswell. ‘It is a plum draw against one of the best teams in Europe. To think of Arsenal coming to our little fortress is unbelievable. We talked about the tie against AFC Wimbledon as being our cup final and we talked about Leeds being our European Cup final. Well, this will be our World Cup final.’
FA Cup fifth round draw in full
Burnley vs Lincoln City – Buy FA Cup Tickets
Fulham vs Tottenham – Buy FA Cup Tickets
Blackburn vs Man United – Buy FA Cup Tickets
Middlesbrough vs Oxford United
Sutton vs Arsenal
Wolves vs Chelsea – Buy FA Cup Tickets
Huddersfield vs Man City
Millwall vs Derby/Leicester
Matches to be played January 27-30