FA Cup fixture against Exeter comes at the worst possible moment for Jurgen Klopp’s side, as the Reds are struggling with more than ten injuries to their first-team players. Liverpool are sure to make plenty of substitutions in order to avoid any unnecessary risk, but will look to grab a win and avoid the replay.
Fourth-tier team are set to welcome the Premier League giants in Friday’s FA Cup third-round tie, eager to snap their poor run of four straight defeats against the respectable opposition. Exeter manager Paul Tisdale is optimistic his players will find plenty of motivation going into the fixture against Liverpool and do their best to grab a surprise win that would be a huge morale boost for the struggling side. The Grecians currently occupy the 16th place in England’s bottom division and find themselves no less than 76 places below Liverpool in the English league system. Exeter are aiming to repeat their best run in the competition in 1981 when the club reached quarterfinals as a third-tier side back then. The most notable result for Paul Tisdale’s team in recent times has been their goalless draw against Manchester United in 2006 and Exeter manager, who has been in charge 2005, is feeling positive about his team’s chances to upset the Premier League member again. There is quite a positive atmosphere ahead of Liverpool’s visit as Exeter are planning a class move for the matchday by preparing a tribute to the Hillsborough victims. Exeter’s programme was increased from usual 82 pages to 96 for the Friday night’s tie.
Exeter boss will have no major selection worries for the Liverpool fixture. Exeter have already done a lot of work during January transfer window, by bringing in no less than seven players.
Fans are hoping to see their top scorer Tom Nichols in action again, hoping he will get the chance to increase his goal tally of nine goals this season.
A 1-0 victory at Stoke City in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semifinal on Tuesday has put Liverpool one step away from Wembley, but Jurgen Klopp will have little reason to celebrate the win. Anfield side are in the midst of a demanding stretch as the Friday’s FA Cup fixture with Exeter City will be followed by home Premier League games against Arsenal and Manchester United, respectively, and most recent run of high-intensity games has taken its toll on the squad. Philippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren were added to the mounting injury list and Jurgen Klopp faces a tough task of keeping enough players fit for the upcoming challenges. The German tactician is sure to make a number of substitutions for the game against Exeter, but he has got a limited squad to choose from. Reds have announced their first January signing on Wednesday, but the talented Serbian midfielder Marko Grujic is being loaned back to his parent club Red Star until the end of the season. However, Liverpool have taken first steps towards bolstering their squad as they have asked Aston Villa to cancel Tiago Illori’s season-long loan at Villa Park. Portugal international has not played a competitive game since joining from Sporting Lisbon in 2013, but Klopp and Liverpool management are exploring the possibility of Anfield return.
Jurgen Klopp has no less than twelve players on the injury list. Aforementioned Coutinho and Lovren join Danny Ings, Joe Gomez, Jon Flanagan, Jordan Rossiter, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Jordan Henderson in the recovery room.
Kolo Toure has also picked up a knock and Liverpool will be seriously weakened in the backline for their upcoming game. Liverpool have recalled winger Sheyi Ojo from his loan spell at Wolves and he is likely to be called into action.
Key Factors to Consider
- Exeter are on a four-match losing run in Engalnd’s fourth-tier
- The Grecians have lost last three home games
- Liverpool have twelve players unavailable due to injury
- Reds have lost only two of their last seven games
- There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Liverpool’s last four games
Jurgen Klopp’s high-intensity football has hit Liverpool players really hard and the German will now have to improvise in order to survive the hectic stretch. Visitors will just look to get this game over with and I don’t expect to see an exciting affair. Goals could be the best option to go by for this fixture.
Verdict: Both teams to score – No
Best odds: 1