The draw took place shortly before kick-off at Deepdale, with the balls selected by England manager Sir Roy Hodgson and Brian Finney, son of the late, great Preston hero Sir Tom Finney.
They gave both sides on show a mouth-watering pre-match incentive, a chance to depose Arsene Wenger’s Gunners, whose Wembley success over Hull last May was their first silverware in nine years.
Liverpool’s hopes of reaching Wembley on the occasion of the departing Steven Gerrard’s 35th birthday were also boosted as they were drawn to face Championship side Blackburn at Anfield.
Giant-killers Bradford, fresh from ousting top-flight opponents Sunderland and Chelsea, avoided Premier League opponents this time and will instead take on second-tier Reading at Valley Parade.
That pairing ensures at least one Football League side will make it to the final four of the competition, with the tie particularly significant for Bantams boss Phil Parkinson, who faces the club that call him a legend having made over 350 appearances over 11 years for the Royals.
Meanwhile, new Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood has been handed a baptism of fire for his first cup clash in charge of the Villans, as they will meet derby rivals West Brom at Villa Park.
The FA Cup quarter-final draw:
Liverpool v Blackburn
Bradford v Reading
Manchester United v Arsenal
Aston Villa v West Brom
Ties to be played March 7 and 8.