Five potential FA Cup Third Round giant-killings

Stale Solbakken
Stale Solbakken's Wolves are under serious pressure after a terrible run of form, and need to avoid an upset at Luton. Photo: PA

The FA Cup is famous for its upsets and the potential for a David versus Goliath story is why the third-round weekend is greeted with such excitement by supporters up and down the country.

Here we pick out five potential upsets from this year's draw:

Brighton v Newcastle (1230, Saturday January 5)

Newcastle were beaten by Brighton in the fourth round last year and they seem ripe for another south coast upset this year too. The Magpies have won just twice in 15 matches and Demba Ba, who has scored 13 of Newcastle's 27 Premier League goals, has left for Chelsea. Brighton, meanwhile, are a team on the up under Gus Poyet and they are well placed to push for a spot in the Championship play-offs.

Crawley v Reading (1500, Saturday January 5)

There are two arguments about the value of cup runs to struggling teams - either they are an unwanted distraction or they can build confidence. Survival in the Premier League has to be Reading's priority and if they view a trip to Crawley as the former then ex-Royals boss Steve Coppell, now director of football at the Broadfield Stadium, could enjoy another famous cup win.

Luton v Wolves (1500, Saturday January 5)

Wolves, a Premier League team this time last year, are in freefall and manager Stale Solbakken is under immense pressure. A defeat to Blue Square Premier opposition could be the final straw. Luton boss Paul Buckle has been to the fourth round of the FA Cup twice before with Torquay. His team have a decent home record this season and, with nothing to lose, they will throw everything at Wolves.

Middlesbrough v Hastings (1500, Saturday January 5)

The two sides are separated by 153 places. Former FA Cup finalists Middlesbrough are in the Championship promotion hunt, Hastings are 17th in the Ryman League Premier Division. And yet it would not be beyond the part-timers to force a replay at the Riverside. Remember how Crawley gave Manchester United a fright in 2011? Hastings, backed by 1,100 travelling supporters, could do the same to Boro.

Mansfield v Liverpool (1600, Sunday, January 6)

What to make of Liverpool? They enjoyed a profitable Christmas in the Premier League but still lack consistency and that is something Mansfield will look to exploit. Liverpool have relied heavily on Luis Suarez but he is expected to be rested and Brendan Rodgers is likely to rotate his defence. Mansfield lost just twice at home in 2012 and Field Mill has been expanded to a capacity of 7,000. At the very least they could make life uncomfortable for Liverpool.