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Testing tie

"This will be a test of character as much as footballing ability. And while I don't claim to be a timelord or a fortuneteller, I can make some guarantees: on Sunday, there'll be goals, there'll be cards and there'll be stress."

– David Stowell, MUTV

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08/01/2011 11:30, Report by David Stowell, MUTV

Sunday to savour

I last blogged on Liverpool in September before Berba bicycle-kicked them into touch at Old Trafford. Back then, I mentioned that there was a "splinter of optimism" after the appointment of Roy Hodgson. However, that splinter became painful for the Anfield club, culminating in the exit of said manager on Saturday morning. 

I met Roy once on the way back from United's Champions League win in Moscow. He struck me as being one of football's nice guys. An eloquent speaker in any number of languages and someone who had time to stop and chat even though his flight to an obscure European destination was about to leave. But the "last call for Mr Hodgson" seemed inevitable after Liverpool's latest defeat at Blackburn - in fact he has also only won one of his last 28 away games as a top-flight manager. And it says a lot that without Steven Gerrard's goals and assists, Liverpool would be second bottom.

In sharp contrast, United are bouncing after a tip-top midweek. After bagging three points against Stoke, Sir Alex and his troop put their feet up, sat back and watched as City strangled a point out of Arsenal, Chelsea froze at Wolves and Spurs slipped up at Goodison.

While United are smiling if not totally shining at the summit, a lot of fans, pundits and journos are questioning the quality of this season's Barclays Premier League. That debate can be put on hold for the weekend though as the FA Cup takes over, with Sunday's tie at Old Trafford an occasion to savour. Going by the form book, Sir Alex's men are already in the fourth round draw. If only it were that simple. This will be a test of character as much as footballing ability. And while I don't claim to be a timelord or a fortune teller, I can make some guarantees: on Sunday, there'll be goals, there'll be cards and there'll be stress. Grow your nails extra long just in preparation and let's hope the right team end up kissing the camera.

The views expressed in this article are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Manchester United.

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