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Five lower-league teams who could cause an FA Cup shock

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It is that time of year, when FA Cup fever grips the nation.

The scent of a shock is in the air, with several Premier League clubs facing tough ties.

Who has a chance of a giant killing?

Stoke City v Newcastle United - Premier League

Newcastle v Luton

What a story this could be. Once a regular top-flight outfit, Luton have fallen rapidly down the leagues, but they are on the up, and some.

Only Manchester City outscore the League Two leaders in the top-four tiers this season, but it doesn’t stop there - the Hatters have bagged another six goals in the FA Cup and they have another nine goals in the EFL Trophy.

There are goals throughout the side, as typified by the 5-0 demolition of Swindon on Boxing Day, where four different strikers were on the scoresheet. While Danny Hylton leads the League Two scoring charts, Luton have an endless list of potential goalscorers – even left back Dan Potts has six goals.

The romance of the cup is well and truly alive in the form of Elliot and Olly Lee, who are both likely to line-up against their father Rob’s former club. The pair have scored 11 between them alone this season and after both scoring at Gateshead they would love the chance to emulate their Newcastle legend father in front of the Gallowgate End.

Luton Town v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two

Fleetwood v Leicester

The return of the prodigal son. Jamie Vardy made his name at Fleetwood after scoring a colossal 31 league goals in the Conference Premier League in 2011/12 - form which alerted then League One side Leicester. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, after netting his 50th Premier League goal against Manchester United last weekend, Vardy will be out to show his former employers just how far he has come.

And, vice versa, Fleetwood won’t want to be upstaged by their former striker. The Cod Army’s tight, enclosed stadium won’t be comfortable for the 2015/16 Premier League champions.

Fleetwood also got back to winning ways at just the right time, too, having beaten Oldham to earn a first victory in nine on Boxing Day.

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-LEICESTER

Shrewsbury v West Ham

David Moyes might insist he can manage any club in the world, but despite victory over Chelsea and a draw against Arsenal, his record since taking over at West Ham isn’t all that impressive.

The Hammers have taken just two points (and conceded 13 goals) against Newcastle, Bournemouth, Everton, Watford and Leicester. Two wins in 10 is relegation form.

Shrewsbury continue to defy the odds. On a shoestring budget, with a squad that was tipped to battle for survival in League One this season, Shrews boss Paul Hirst has steered his side to second in England’s third tier.

In fact, until October 28, Shrewsbury were the only unbeaten team in the EFL. Their success has been built on solid foundations, having conceded just 14 league goals all season - never more than twice in a game. The Hammers better beware on a side on the march.

Walsall v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One

Exeter v West Brom

Things are not going to plan for West Brom, that’s for sure. Since Alan Pardew took over, they have scored twice.

Their three points in that run have all come from 0-0 draws. Stoke, Crystal Palace and Swansea have come in that run, too. Rather than be the breath of fresh air after Tony Pulis, Pardew has simply donned a different cap and tracksuit.

And there is nothing like a tricky FA Cup third-round tie to really twist the knife. It all depends what Exeter side turn up. Paul Tisdale’s men are as unpredictable as their manager’s wardrobe. Some weeks Tisdale’s men brush aside teams, others capitulate with ease.

The underdogs are doing everything they can to make it an uncomfortable afternoon in Devon for the Premier League stars, with West Brom given just 300 tickets for fans to travel to St James’ Park, much to the Baggies' annoyance.

West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal - Premier League

Coventry v Stoke

There is history here. These local rivals last met in 2008 at the Ricoh Arena, when Ricardo Fuller’s penalty steered Stoke to victory en route to promotion to the Premier League, while Coventry continued their free fall from being a Premier League ever-present at the turn of the century, to playing in the fourth tier of English football today.

Off-field problems have really angered fans, with the mess extending to their performances on the pitch. However, the mood around the Ricoh is as positive as it has been for some time.

Back for his second spell in charge, former Manchester United forward Mark Robins - the man who is credited with saving Sir Alex Ferguson with an FA Cup goal - has gone back to basics, made the Sky Blues hard to beat, and it has reaped rewards, with Coventry sitting in the play-off places with the best defensive record in League Two.

Stoke, on the other hand, have endured their worst-ever start to a Premier League season, with the pressure mounting on boss Mark Hughes to turn things around - the Potters are there for the taking.

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Topics:
FA Cup
Shrewsbury Town
Exeter
Stoke City
Football
Coventry City
West Bromwich Albion

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