Just last season League Two Exeter City were embarrassed live on BBC television in their role as FA Cup favourites by non-league Warrington in round one. A little over a year later and it’s Exeter who now look poised to don giant-killing capes when mighty Liverpool visit.
Given prime Friday-night billing once more, Exeter will never be presented with a better chance to take the biggest scalp in their history.
A combination of Liverpool’s hectic schedule and their manager’s demanding methods have left the Reds stripped of a dozen first-team regulars through injury (including all four centre-halves), leaving Jurgen Klopp little choice but to field an unrecognisable team comprised of young fringe players in Devon.
Although Paul Tisdale’s mid-table side are on a poor run of league form themselves, losing four on the trot, the Grecians had been flirting with the play-off spots for the majority of the campaign and, being the FA Cup, form tends to be rendered irrelevant.
Throwing in the Devonian side’s historical pedigree in the competition – Newcastle were pummelled 4-0 at St James’ Park in 1981 and Manchester United were forced into a replay after a 0-0 at Old Trafford in 2005 – there are more than enough elements in place to sense an upset is on the cards.
Those Ladbrokes customers still unconvinced by 9/2 on a home win, ought to know that Liverpool also top the charts for the most beaten side by lower league opposition since the Premier League’s inception – losing eight times.
Given the wretched state of the travelling party, Exeter look a pretty tasty price of 11/8 in the double chance market at the very least.
Whereas it’s difficult to say who will be lining up for Liverpool in terms of an educated scorer punt, Exeter academy product and top scorer Tom Nichols looks a fine pick to notch in successive home games and stretch his hot streak to seven in 12 matches.
Nichols is a 10/1 shot to break the deadlock and remember; you could earn huge rewards with Ladbrokes’ Double Odds 1st Goal Scorer promotion should the 22-year-old or any other of your selections bag in the opening 25 minutes.
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