The last thing Liverpool really needed at this point of the season was another fixture. Given they are still in three cup competitions, alongside fighting for a top-four finish in the Premier League, Jurgen Klopp’s men are pretty much guaranteed two games each week at present.
This midweek brings their FA Cup third-round replay against fourth-tier Exeter at Anfield, having drawn 2-2 when making the 500+ mile round trip to Devon with a largely youthful side earlier this month.
Klopp will no doubt have to shuffle his pack again, with a league trip to Norwich and the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final at home to Stoke both upcoming in the next six days.
Liverpool are 1/4 to beat Exeter and 8/11 to do so by overcoming a one-goal handicap. The latter looks an especially good price on the basis that the Premier League side are expected to line up with a stronger team in the replay.
Here is the XI we expect Klopp to pick:
This includes eight starters from the first Exeter encounter, with Dejan Lovren, Jordon Ibe and Joe Allen providing greater first-team experience.
As goalkeeper Danny Ward and central defender Steven Caulker were not with the club ahead of the first Exeter meeting, both are cup-tied in this replay, although they will be available for round four should Liverpool progress.
Lovren was in contention for a return against Manchester United having injured a hamstring in the first leg against Stoke earlier in January. Liverpool’s December player of the month was expected to be out for four weeks, but has recovered quicker than anticipated.
This looks the ideal fixture to ease him back into action for an hour ahead of the tougher fixtures over the remainder of the month.
Ibe is Liverpool’s most used substitute in the Premier League this term and his pace and trickery will be a threat, while Allen is due a start, having made only one over Liverpool’s hectic period since December 6th.
If Klopp does start with this XI, Liverpool -2 also appeals in the handicap betting markets at 7/4.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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