MIXU Paatelainen conceded a “shock might be in the air” when his struggling Dundee United side visit Ladbrokes League 1 side Airdrieonians in the William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round today.

Meanwhile, city rival Paul Hartley said his Dundee side will have to show last season’s beaten finalists Falkirk “utmost respect” in their tie, which is subject to a “precautionary” 10am pitch inspection after heavy rain.

Paatelainen is not sure if United’s trip to Airdrie in the cup is a welcome break from the pressures of trying to fight his way out of bottom place in the Ladbrokes Premiership as he is aware of the possible pitfalls.

The manager said: “I realise we have a very tough tie, Airdrie will be full of energy and spirit. Do I welcome the break from league football playing a cup tie? Yes and no.

“Obviously we would like to play a league match and get three points and start climbing but on the other hand, cup football is exciting. I always look forward to cup ties, it is that special spice, it is a one-off, especially when you play against Airdrie and teams like that. A cup shock might be in the air, obviously we want to avoid that. Airdrie are looking forward to making things like that happen so there is plenty of excitement.”

While a win would not make any difference to United’s league position Paatelainen knows the boost of making it through to the next round of the cup could have a knock-on effect. He said: “Any win is important, especially where we are at the moment. We look forward to doing everything to [beat Airdrie] and take it forward from there. Every team approaches the cup with 100 per cent effort and we are no different. We do realise it is a tricky tie and we must play our best to win.”

As well as making last year’s final, Falkirk share second place in the Ladbrokes Championship with Hibernian, three points behind Rangers. Hartley said: “Falkirk are having a wonderful season so far, they are running Hibs and Rangers close. They are cup specialists also, so we know this is a tough tie. We will show them the utmost respect.

“Peter [Houston] has done a terrific job at Falkirk but we are at home, the onus is on us and on the back of a great result last weekend, we want to try to do well in the cup this year.

“I have seen Falkirk’s last two games live. They have some good players and also have a good blend of young players and experience.

“It is a cup game, both teams like to get the ball down and pass it, we will be the favourites and rightly so but we know that Falkirk are dangerous and we have to be aware of that. Cup games are just about getting through it and hopefully getting a lucky draw in the next round.”

After a big Dundee contingent turned out last week to see the league win over neighbours United last weekend, Hartley added: “Hopefully we will get a good turnout. Falkirk will bring a big travelling support, they always do, but as I say cup games are about getting through, it doesn’t matter how, if you play well or win ugly, whatever. We are in for a tough game but we have to have confidence after beating United last week.”

Hartley has Greg Stewart back from suspension while fellow forward Craig Wighton has been recalled from his loan spell at Raith Rovers. New signing Darren O’Dea, is unlikely to feature.