Liverpool may have fallen out of the League Cup, and the club's European hopes are almost certain to require victory at
NapoliUdinese on Thursday in order to continue, but there's always another piece of silverware to compete for. Or at least there's one more, with Premier League clubs set to enter the FA Cup in January for the competition's third round.
And on paper at least, Liverpool would appear to face one of the easiest ties on the schedule with a trip to take on either Mansfield Town or Lincoln City on January fifth or sixth. Most other clubs know their opponent already following Sunday's draw, but with Mansfield Town forcing a second round replay on Saturday when Matt Rhead drew the hosts level at 3-3 in stoppage time, Liverpool will have to wait a little while longer to find out which of the two non-league sides will host them in the New Year.
Both clubs hail from Conference National—aka the Blue Square Premier League—the fifth tier of the English football pyramid and the lowest nationwide division. Mansfield Town currently sit in seventh on 29 points, four back of fifth place and qualification for the season-ending promotion playoffs, while Lincoln City are three points behind in twelfth.
Mansfield, with a stadium currently capable of seating 7,547, has been the more successful of the two sides in recent seasons. Before being relegated from the Football League to Conference National in 2008 they spent much of their history in Leagues One and Two, and in 1987 they captured the Football League Trophy—currently the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. They were runners up for the non-League FA Trophy in 2011.
Lincoln City's ground seats just over ten thousand. They have never made it past the fourth round of the FA Cup and reached their highest position in English football an awfully long time ago when they finished fifth in the old Second Division—in 1902.
Elsewhere, Swansea hosts Arsenal and Manchester United travel to West Ham in what are likely to end up the round's marquee matches. Other Premier League pairings include QPR v. West Brom and Southampton v. Chelsea.