Exeter v Liverpool
Live on BBC 1
This high-profile tie in front of the TV cameras is just the departure Exeter need; they're enduring something of a sticky patch in League Two. The Grecians have lost their last four games on the spin, with three of those defeats coming on their own patch, and currently sit 16th in the country's bottom division.
While relegation out of the football league isn't a serious prospect at this stage, Paul Tisdale's side aren't in any sort of nick to be facing a Premier League heavyweight in front of the nation watching at home, and he'll have to hope the big occasion motivates his team to play out of their skin on Friday night.
To get to this stage, Exeter beat eighth-tier Didcot Town and Port Vale, who sit in the division above them, but surely Tisdale knows his team will have to be at their very best to get anything from Friday night's encounter. But, those TV cameras are there for one main reason, and that's for an upset. Stranger things have happened...
The word of the moment for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool fans is 'hamstring'. No fewer than six players are suffering with hamstring injuries - Philippe Coutinho, Dejan Lovren, Divock Origi, Jordan Rossiter, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Sturridge, and with five other players out of this one with various other complaints, it's going to be a threadbare side that takes on the challenge, especially in the rearguard.
But, Liverpool are the most decorated side in English football history, have won seven FA Cups, and know what it takes to triumph over adversity, if 'adversity' is even the right word when talking about playing against a team 66 places below them in the football league.
Klopp has suffered a mixed start to his tenure at Anfield though, and the last thing he wants is to be on the end of a high-profile giant-killing in the world's oldest cup competition. File this one under 'potential banana skin'.
As you'd expect, the Reds are big favourites for this one, although they're not trading as short as I thought they might (probably due to the mixed form and injury issues mentioned above). 1.4740/85 is the price on them winning the tie, and that is slightly generous in this writer's opinion. Regardless of Liverpool's woes, Exeter aren't in any sort of form themselves and so it's hard to see them staging an upset here.
If you disagree, they're 8.27/1 to do just that, with The Draw trading at 5.04/1.
It's not beyond the realms of possibility that Klopp's men falter and the Tisdale's side, fueled by a boisterous night-game atmosphere drive them all the way, but personally I don't see that happening. Even with the inexperienced Liverpool side are set to field, you'd back them to have enough.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Exeter find it hard to keep clean sheets and have had one shut-out in their last ten league games, while Liverpool still carry a goal-threat even with their 12 first-team crocks. Whisper it, but there's even a chance that Daniel Sturridge could be named on the bench for this one and he'd welcome a confidence-boosting last half-an-hour against a League Two side.
1.664/6 is the short price on Overs, presumably because the layers in this particular market think the away side will get a hatful. If you fancy a more nip-and-tuck affair, 2.0811/10 is available on two goals or fewer.
If you think Liverpool can get past this banana skin with room to spare, then an odds-against price of 11/10 on them starting with a -1 handicap is a nice angle. It might go bigger on the Exchange between now and kick off, so keep an eye on that, but anything odds-against on a -1 win is, in this writer's view at least, a must-have bet. It's simply way too generous - 66 places separate these teams, and the League Two side are in terrible form. They can probably raise their game for an FA Cup game in front of the cameras, but there are levels.
Back Liverpool-1 to beat Exeter City at 11/10 (Sportsbook)
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