Last Friday the draw was made for the FA Youth Cup Third Round with Arsenal meeting either Wycombe Wanderers or Gravesend & Northfleet at home.
Similar to the FA Cup, the Third Round is when the bigger clubs join the competition and Arsenal will be hoping that their home fixture at Underhill, Barnet can be a springboard for their seventh success.
The historic competition has been in existence since 1952 and is considered junior football's most auspicious trophy.
Only current holders Manchester United have claimed the crown more times than Arsenal, whose first victory came way back in 1966. The Gunners debut title came at the expense of Sunderland who they beat 5-3 on aggregate, after losing the away leg 2-1. That team featured two players who went on to claim great success at Highbury; Sammy Nelson and Pat Rice.
The Gunners next victory came in 1971 when Cardiff City were beaten 2-0 on aggregate in the final. This team again included a smattering of players who progressed to the first team, namely Brendon Batson, Brian Hornsby and David Price.
Onto 1988 for our third title and a team that swept all before them, winning the final 6-1 on aggregate against Doncaster Rovers. This team spawned some talented first-teamers of the future, notably Kevin Campbell, Neil Heaney, Steve Morrow, David Hillier and Alan Miller.
In 1994 the Gunners also came top of the tree, winning a tight final against Millwall, 5-3. This year's crop included Matthew Rose, Isiah Rankin and Stephen Hughes.
More recently the Gunners' youth team claimed - and retained - the prize in 2000 and 2001.
In 2000 Don Howe's young Gunners thumped Coventry City 5-1 on aggregate in the final after a very tight semi-final win over Middlesbrough, 2-1. This season's crop featured a number of players who are currently playing in the Premiership; John Halls, Steve Sidwell (both Reading), Jermaine Pennant (Liverpool), Moritz Volz (Fulham) and Jerome Thomas (Charlton) whilst Graham Stack (Leeds), Rohan Ricketts, Jay Bothroyd (both Wolves) and Liam Chilvers (Preston) are regulars in the Championship. The very talented team also featured Italian centre-half Niccolo Galli who went on to play for Bologna in Serie A before tragically being killed in a road accident.
Our most recent victory in 2001 was the most comprehensive final win of all; an 8-1 walloping of Blackburn which included a 5-0 victory at Ewood Park in the first-leg. Jeremie Aliadiere spearheaded the victory, matching the Youth Cup's all time goalscoring record - held by Michael Owen - with nine goals. The team also featured Sidwell, Thomas, Ricketts, Volz and Pennant with Ryan Garry also ever-present. Ben Chorley captained the team and went on to Captain MK Dons and is currently at Gillingham.
RULES AND REGULATIONS
- Players must be aged 18 years or younger at midnight on August 31, 2006
- All matches up to and including the quarter finals must be completed on the night. If the game is level after 90 minutes an extra 30 minutes shall be played - 15 minutes each-half. If the score is still level after extra-time, penalties will decide the match.
- The semi-finals and finals are played over two legs. If the aggregate scores are level after normal time of the second leg, two periods of 15 minutes extra time will be played. If the teams still can't be separated, penalties decide the match.
- Clubs should play their home games at their main stadium unless they have special dispensation to play elsewhere. Arsenal play their home games at Barnet's Underhill Stadium, where the Reserves also play.
The Third Round must be played by Saturday, December 16, 2006
The Fourth Round must be played by Saturday, January 20, 2007
The Fifth Round must be played by Saturday, February 3, 2007
The Quarter Finals must be played by Saturday, February 17, 2007
The Semi Final first-leg must be played by Saturday, March 10, 2007
The Semi Final second-leg must be played by Saturday, March 24, 2007
Dates for the two legs of the Final are yet to be confirmed.
THIRD ROUND DRAW IN FULL
Portsmouth v Norwich City
Cardiff City v Merthyr Tydfil / Thatcham Town
Luton Town v Northampton Town / Huddersfield Town
Wigan Athletic v Plymouth Argyle
Darlington / Stockport County v Southampton
Crystal Palace v Stoke City
Doncaster Rovers / Hartlepool United v Derby County
Aston Villa v Colchester United
Manchester United v Scunthorpe United / Lincoln City
Millwall v Manchester City
Salisbury City /Swindon Town v Queens Park Rangers
Macclesfield Town / Shrewsbury Town v Everton
Burnley v Milton Keynes Dons /Fisher Athletic
West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool
Coventry City v Southend United
Walsall / Carlisle United v Middlesbrough
Woking / Exeter City v Newcastle United
Arsenal v Wycombe Wanderers / Gravesend & Northfleet
Birmingham City v Great Yarmouth Town / Chesterfield
Sunderland v Preston North End
Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
York City / Chester City v Tottenham Hotspur
Leeds United v Hull City
West Ham United v Charlton Athletic
Cambridge United / Tranmere Rovers FC v Crewe Alexandra / Morecambe
Barnsley v Stevenage Borough / Leyton Orient
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest /Port Vale
Sheffield Wednesday v Bolton Wanderers
Brentford / Yeovil Town v Ipswich Town
Sheffield United v Watford
Bristol City / Brighton & Hove Albion v Fulham
Reading v Blackburn Rovers
The Second Round tie between Wycombe Wanderers and Gravesend & Northfleet to decide who meets the Gunners is played tonight.