Star man: Despite looking, pretty much from the off against United, like he had just completed a marathon, Joe Cole still managed (or was given the time) to conjure two assists. As his sharpness improves, Big Sam says “he’s going to be a major asset. Hopefully he gets stronger and better the more games he plays.”
Sub-plots: The returning Rooney, Nani and Anderson will want to play their way into contention for some crucial forthcoming matches. This will be a good run-out for them, but equally they will want to deliver. United haven’t won the FA Cup since 2004 and there is an appetite in the stands and the dressing room to end that run.
Whistle-blower: Phil Dowd last refereed a Reds game in United’s damaging 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic in March 2012. He has officiated in 21 games this season, handing out 74 yellow cards and three reds.
Rivals watch: Chelsea take on Southampton in the Barclays Premier League, (KO 19:45 GMT) while Arsenal face Swansea in their FA Cup third round replay (KO 19:30 GMT).