For many clubs, the FA Cup third round is a chance to pull off a major upset, a chance to keep up a good run or even, for some, an inconvenience.
But for Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion and Premier League giants Newcastle United, it is an opportunity to renew a rivalry which begun in last year’s fourth round.
Having made Alan Pardew’s team their first top-flight scalp at the Amex Stadium last season, Albion fans will be expecting a repeat in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off at 8/5.
Newcastle failed to heed the warning of their embarrassing third-round defeat by Stevenage in 2011 as they were undone by a Mike Williamson own goal on the south coast 12 months ago.
However, the Magpies are once again the favourites at 7/5 and even going to a replay (a 9/4 chance) would be a reasonable result for them, given their recent league run of nine defeats in 11 games.
Gus Poyet’s team head into this fixture in a similar situation to last year’s meeting, having led the early Championship table and subsequently settled in just outside the playoffs, largely thanks to their continued good defensive record.
Having put up eight shut-outs in the league this term, they are 13/5 to repeat last season’s clean sheet against a Newcastle side now shorn of the attacking talents of Chelsea new boy Demba Ba.
However, much like last year, Albion are also struggling to score goals themselves, averaging just 1.3 per home game and with the only goal in the previous meeting arriving with 15 minutes remaining, it’s 11/5 for another goalless first half.
Yet Newcastle’s defence is much less reliable than it was this time last season, as shown by conceding 13 goals in their past three games, which should give Albion confidence to go for a potential key opening goal at 2/1.
Poyet will look for the potentially Norwich-bound Craig Mackail-Smith and Southampton target Will Buckley to show why they are attracting such interest by claiming that opening goal at 11/2 or 15/2 respectively.
Meanwhile, Pardew will expect Papiss Cisse to step up and fill the striking hole left by Ba and the Senegalese hitman is 8/5 to strike at any time.
Should Brighton repeat last season’s 1-0 triumph behind a Mackail-Smith opener, then new customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin could be celebrating more than the Seagulls fans with a £700 win.
But with Newcastle’s inability to keep it tight and Albion likely to be more expansive after last season’s victory, I’m backing a slightly higher-scoring upset, with a home win and over 2.5 goals the best value at 16/5.