There are two massive FA cup ties to whet the appetite on Wednesday night with both games live on TV and both well worth watching. Leicester and Spurs renew rivalries for the third time in ten days after playing out a 2-2 draw in the original tie, then a Premier League clash last weekend. It was the Foxes who ran out 1-0 winners at White Hart Lane on Saturday, with Robert Huth’s thumping late header securing the points. After leading 2-1 in the FA cup tie in London they were pegged back by Harry Kane’s late penalty, but the bookmakers have seen fit to install Tottenham as the favourite for this game, which looks a slight error.
The other tie sees League Two Exeter travel to Anfield for a fairytale clash against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, and with the Reds current injury woes they will feel that they are not without a chance. Naturally the Merseyside club are strong favourites to win through to the fourth round, but it certainly won’t be easy against a team who will be playing as if their lived depend upon it.
Leicester v Spurs
Leicester are a big price to get the better of Spurs at +195 with Bet365 and it’s worth taking a chance that their own fairytale season can continue for a little bit longer.
Many pundits have been predicting all year long that Leicester will fall away, but they carry on proving the doubters wrong and remain joint-top of the Premier League with Arsenal. They’re currently on 44 points, and manager Claudio Ranieri has set them the lofty target of 79 points for the season. That total would have been enough to win the league three times, and has always been enough to finish in the top four in previous seasons. It’s a big ask for his players to achieve that, but were it not for a couple of missed penalties by Mahrez recently against Bournemouth and Aston Villa, they could be much further along the way to getting there.
The two recent games against Spurs – both away from home – have seen Leicester out-perform their top four challengers, firstly with the 2-2 draw in the previous FA cup tie. The Foxes came from behind in that one to lead 2-1 but Harry Kane was the man on the spot as he converted a late penalty to earn this replay. The weekend’s Premier League game was surprising only because of the lack of goals, with both sides squandering good chances, but ultimately it was slack marking from Spurs which left Robert Huth free to power a header in the top corner and grab all three points for Leicester.
Leicester have lost just once in 14 on home soil, so there is no obvious reason why Spurs should be offered as favourites to win here. It’s true that the North London club have only been beaten once in their last 12 away games, but they’ve only managed to win five of those with six on the road ending all square. They bounced back to form with a 4-1 win over Sunderland last weekend, but not without going a goal down first, and this is going to be a tough encounter. Under the lights and with a partisan crowd at their backs, Leicester are more than capable of beating Spurs again and the odds are tempting enough to have a flutter.
Mario Pochettino has indicated that he will rotate his squad again for this game, with a top four finish the priority for his side, but his opposite number Ranieri may well elect to play the majority of his first team to ensure that his side has a good crack at the FA cup. The Foxes have a seven-point gap over 5th placed Manchester United, but Spurs are only two points clear of that rival, and the desperation to secure a place in next year’s Champions League may play more on the mind of Pochettino than that of Ranieri.
Liverpool v Exeter
Liverpool will be expected to sweep Exeter aside in this match, but with the injury problems mounting at the Anfield club and the fixtures piling up, Jurgen Klopp is almost certain to start with a weakened side. Exeter will battle heroically from the first minute, and could be value to hold out until at least half-time.
Draw half time – Liverpool full time in the HT/FT market is +350 with Coral
Liverpool fielded a side with an average age of just 22 in the draw at St James’ Park and they very nearly paid for it, having to come from behind twice just to earn this replay. It could be a similar story in this match as several of the first team squad are unavailable, although emergency signing Steven Caulker may get a start in his favoured position of centre back after being employed as a striker in his two substitute appearances for the club so far.
Exeter boss Paul Tisdale has said that his side will be prepared to have a go at Liverpool in this game, as they have nothing to lose, but it is likely that we can expect them to start with a defensive mindset to withstand the early onslaught from the Reds. If they can hang on until half-time they will feel anything can happen, but as so often occurs in this type of game, fitness and class tend to shine through in the end. It would be a cruel way to go out, but second half goals from Liverpool would be no surprise.
In Exeter’s favour is their decent away record – they’ve only lost one in six on the road – and Liverpool have hardly been prolific at home, managing to win just one of the last four. We fancy Exeter to push the Reds all the way here, but in the end it will be the same old story of the Premier League side coming on strong in the final stages.
Leicester to beat Spurs
Wednesday 20th January, 19:45 GMT
Draw Half Time – Liverpool Full Time
Wednesday 20th January, 20:00 GMT
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