A 1-0 away win in the first leg of the Capital One Cup sees Liverpool take half a step towards the final. It was a massive improvement on the West Ham performance but it could prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. Jurgen Klopp didn’t hold back in his efforts to land a trophy in his first season but there were repercussions for his boldness.
The cost of the narrow advantage is two, possibly three, more injuries in areas where his squad has already suffered significant hits. If Exeter City are going to cause an FA Cup upset then they may not have a better chance.
Adding Injury to Injury
Dejan Lovren, who was finally starting to look a half decent defender again, joins fellow centre-halves Martin Skrtel and Mamadhou Sakho on the sidelines after pulling his hamstring on Tuesday. These are on top of long-term defensive absentees Jon Flanagan and Joe Gomez.
Even veteran back-up Kolo Toure pulled up at the end with what the manager described as cramp in his post match interview. Liverpool have yet to lose a game in which Toure has featured this season, drawing three and winning six. Without him we could see a central defensive partnership of Lucas Leiva and Emre Can.
From Back To Front
Phillip Coutinho is out with, what else but, a hamstring injury, leaving Klopp even shorter on attacking options. Daniel Sturridge continues to be plagued with niggling injuries, Danny Ings may make it back in time for next season if he’s lucky, Divick Origi is out and now Coutinho.
The manager is left with Christian Benteke who is a goal threat but is struggling to find his place in Klopp’s systems. He’s the most obvious choice in the goalscorer markets atto score first but that’s as much down to a lack of options as anything else.
Firmino is another whose form has dropped off and he’s developed an unhelpful habit of giving the ball away. The promise is there but we may have to wait until next season to see the best of him.
Jordan Ibe is improving but he has yet to become consistent enough to rely on in every game. Against this level of opposition, if he starts, he’s worth serious consideration to score first at.
Reds Not Much Kop in the Cup
Liverpool have exited the FA Cup in their first proper round 24 times in the competition’s history. Seeing as that history stretches back to 1871 we’ll focus on their record in more recent times.
In the Premier League era Liverpool have been knocked out in the third round seven times. Five of these seven losses have been against teams they were expected to beat (Reading, Burnley, Coventry, Bristol City and Bolton).
The Merseysiders have suffered a further six exits at the fourth round stage and three in the fifth round in the last twenty-three years. That’s 16 early exits in the last 23 FA Cup competitions.
With the number of injuries Liverpool are carrying at he moment and their less than impressive record in this competition Exeter may not have a better chance at causing an upset.
- Exeter to win:
Klopp in Cups
In his final four seasons with Borussia Dortmund he won the cup once, finished runner-up twice and made it to the quarter-finals. However he failed to make it past the third round in his first three seasons with the club. His previous club Mainz 05 suffered three first round exits during his seven years in charge. The club were in the second tier for much of his reign so their 1/4 final appearance in 2006 was a commendable result for a provincial club.
- Liverpool to win the FA Cup:
Early Exet’ Signs
Spending the majority of their existence in the lower leagues the Grecians have only faced Liverpool five times in their history. All coming in cup competitions and all ending in victory for Liverpool. Over the course of the five games, the last of which coming in the League Cup in 2011, Liverpool have outscored Exeter 19-2.
Exeter come in to this game on a run of four straight defeats, three of which came at St James Park. In fact they have only managed one win in their last seven home games across all competitions. If Liverpool can put on one of their random excellent away performances then this could be a tough day for the home team.
- Liverpool -2 goals: