International

Injury-hit Liverpool look to avoid FA Cup upset

2016-01-07 17:07
Jurgen Klopp (Supplied)
Jurgen Klopp (Supplied)

Manchester - It's a match that has all the ingredients of a classic FA Cup upset.

An injury-hit, inconsistent and potentially jaded Premier League heavyweight making a 800-kilometre round trip to a team in the lower reaches of the fourth tier with a small ground, poor field and a recent history of shocking a top side.

Exeter's home game against Liverpool on Friday is the pick of the games in the third round of the FA Cup, when the giants of the Premier League join the teams from the lower leagues and non-league in the world's oldest club knockout competition.

As always, the search is on for a huge shock on one of the most exciting weekends in the English soccer calendar and it could come at the 8,500-capacity St. James' Park, which - located in the south-west corner of England — is one of the most remote grounds in the country.

Liverpool is in the middle of a gruelling schedule - it will be the team's sixth game in 19 days - that is taking its toll on the squad. Manager Jurgen Klopp is without a senior centre back for the match as Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure are all hurt, while attackers Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are also injured.

The match comes three days after a League Cup semi-final match at Stoke, and five days before a Premier League game against first-place Arsenal. Klopp could even make 11 changes to the team.

That will all be music to the ears of Exeter's players, whose team is 16th in the 24-team League Two - a gap of 76 places to Liverpool in the English soccer ladder. The last time Exeter reached this stage was in 2005, when it took Manchester United to a replay after a goalless draw at Old Trafford.

"The pitch won't be the best - we've had a lot of rain down here - so it will be difficult for Liverpool to get their slick passing going," said Clinton Morrison, the former Crystal Palace and Ireland striker who is currently Exeter's most famous player.

"If we get in their faces, press them, who knows?"

Liverpool's form has been up and down over the past month, with anger inside Klopp after a 2-0 loss at West Ham on Saturday turning to pride after a 1-0 win at Stoke.

The German coach is concerned about having 11 players unavailable through injury - six either with or recovering from hamstring problems - and there have been accusations that his preferred high-energy pressing game has led to the injuries.

There are five all-Premier League games, including Arsenal starting the defence of the title at home to Sunderland, while Eastleigh - the only non-league team remaining - hosts financially stricken second-tier club Bolton.

Here are some more things to look out for this weekend:

THREE-PEAT

Arsenal is bidding to become the first team since Blackburn in 1884-86 to win the FA Cup in three straight years, and to extend its record-setting haul of FA Cup titles to 13.

With his team having its best chance in years to win the Premier League, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to rotate his squad. Alexis Sanchez could return from a hamstring injury.

UNITED'S RIPOSTE

Manchester United stemmed the crisis swirling around its manager, Louis van Gaal, by beating Swansea last weekend to end a winless run of eight games, but losing to third-tier club Sheffield United would put the Dutchman under fresh scrutiny.

Sheffield United has been a cup specialist in recent years, reaching the League Cup semi-finals last season and the FA Cup semi-finals in 2014.

POTENTIAL UPSETS

The potential for so-called "giant killings" in the third round isn't as big as in many previous years.

But Everton will be wary when it hosts fourth-tier club Dagenham and Redbridge, as will Stoke on its trip to third-tier club Doncaster and Aston Villa when it visits fourth-tier team Wycombe.

Villa is facing relegation after winning only once in 20 Premier League games this season, so the FA Cup will come as a respite.

Read more on:    liverpool  |  fa cup  |  soccer
NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

 

Quiz: Test your Rio Olympics memory!

Think you know what went on at the Rio Olympics? Prove it by tackling Sport24's ridiculously impossible yet highly addictive post-Games quiz!

 
 

Rio Olympics

GALLERY: SA's Rio Olympic medallists
As it happened: Rio Olympics - Day 17
Selecting 6 numbers turned Britain into Olympic superpower
Caster cranks up the heat in Rio semi
 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

Follow all the action from the 2016 Rio Olympics. The highs, the lows, the tears, the smiles as the world's greatest athletes compete for gold, silver and bronze.

Latest blogs
Vote

Who was the best summer signing in the EPL?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.