Newcastle were dumped out of the FA Cup by Brighton last season, so could lightning strike twice? Lee Dixon, three-time Cup winner, believes so.
I'm a firm believer in the magic of the FA Cup and I looked forward to third round weekend every season. Winning this competition is an enormous honour. I know that because I have three FA Cup winners' medals but just ask Alan Shearer, who lost in finals and semi-finals, how important the Cup is because it still rankles with him that he never won it.
Newcastle could certainly do with Alan now. Wednesday night's 2-1 defeat at home to Everton was their tenth in their last 13, they've sold their top scorer and are contemplating a fight for top flight survival. They will undoubtedly miss Demba Ba but I expect them to be busy in the transfter market this month. In the mean time, they need Papiss Cisse to reproduce the form he mustered last season. He's only scored six so far but, with two in his last three, there are signs that he's stepping up.
You play with a different intensity in knockout competition. When things are going badly in the league, the Cup can provide a welcome break, a chance to end a bad run. That's certainly how Alan Pardew will hope his players approach their Saturday lunchtime tie against Brighton.
But there's an element of uncertainty when you play against teams from different divisions. Newcastle discovered this last season when, in the middle of excellent league form, they were overturned in an away tie against Brighton.
That day, Mike Williamson's 76th minute own goal settled the tie and the draw/Brighton result - the match was 0-0 at half-time - appeals to me once again. Newcastle won't fancy this tie and I expect a cagey opening. Seagulls striker Craig Mackail Smith scored his 11th of the season in the 3-0 New Year's Day away win over Ipswich and he'll be keen to test the visiting defenders, especially if, as expected, Pardew makes changes to his team.
Wayne Bridge, Brighton's left-back, won this competition with Chelsea, as did manager Gus Poyet, and that kind of experience will prove invaluable to a team facing opposition from a higher division. It would still be an upset if Brighton beat this struggling Newcastle team, but it wouldn't be a surprise.
The Tactical View: Michael Cox
In their last three Premier League games, against Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton, Newcastle have been either drawing or leading at half-time, before collapsing in the second half and losing the game. Obviously, Brighton are significantly less talented opponents, but Alan Pardew’s side’s tendency to dip after half-time might continue against a side that will be up for the challenge, and one that has enjoyed an extra day’s rest. Newcastle to be leading at half-time, but trailing at full-time, looks good value at [36.0].
The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson
Alan Pardew's side exited the FA Cup at the fourth round stage last season, losing 1-0 to Brighton. Newcastle have been drawn away in the third round of the competition for five of the last six years and have failed to win any of those games, registering four draws and one defeat.
Brighton are ninth in the Championship after kicking off 2013 with an excellent 3-0 victory at Ipswich Town on New Year’s Day. That came after a winless December in which Brighton lost twice and drew their other three games. This season, they have recorded four wins, three defeats and six draws at the Amex.
Newcastle are slight favourites at [2.68] – [2.7] and, with the departure of leading goalscorer Demba Ba to Chelsea, the pressure is now on Cisse to deliver. I think Newcastle may be a bit short and therefore, I will be siding with Brighton and the draw by laying Newcastle at [2.7].