FA Cup 3rd Round: Mansfield v Liverpool
Sunday January 6
In the days when the press scream 'giant-killing' for, say, Wigan losing to Bradford (no offence to Wigan, but they're a fairly lilliputian giant), this FA cup tie offers a shot at the real deal. Mansfield Town were in what's now League One a decade ago, but have spent the past four seasons in the Conference following relegation from the Football League in 2008.
The man aiming to oversee Mansfield's return is owner John Radford who steamed local glasses by appointing his glamorous paramour Carolyn Still, then just 29, to the position of chief executive in 2011. Still, she has a degree from Durham University, has worked as a model (and escort, if the tabloids are to be believed) and was cautioned by police for 'threatening behaviour' at an away match at York City in 2012. None of this – we're fairly sure – can be said about Liverpool owner John W Henry, and it means media coverage on Sunday may focus on Mansfield's off-the-field story.
On the pitch, the club have been scoring freely of late, netting 13 in their past five games. Liverpool, on the other hand, boast the attacking firepower of Luis Suarez, scorer of just the 15 Premier League goals already this season and the key reason why they have won five of their past seven matches. However, many expect him to be rested this weekend and for new-signing Daniel Sturridge to make his debut at Field Mill.
Against a defence that has conceded four goals against Newport, Gateshead, Grimsby and Cambridge this season, Brendan Rodgers will hope that whatever team he picks will have enough firepower to seal this tie without the need for an Anfield replay. If Mansfield can scrape an unlikely draw or a stratospherically improbable win, however, it may not be the Mansfield players who the ESPN cameras are zooming in on come the final whistle.