Arsenal are bidding to become the first team since Blackburn in 1884-86 to win the FA Cup in three straight years, and to extend its record-setting haul of FA Cup titles to 13. With his team having its best chance in years to win the Premier League, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to rotate his squad. Wenger said Thursday that Alexis Sanchez is not yet ready to return from a hamstring injury, but midfielder Mikel Arteta is available. Liverpool are in the middle of a gruelling schedule – it will be the team’s sixth game in 19 days – that is taking its toll on the squad. Manager Jurgen Klopp is without a senior centre back for the match, as Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure are all hurt, while attackers Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are also injured. The match comes three days after a League Cup semi-final match at Stoke, and five days before a Premier League game against first-place Arsenal. Klopp could even make 11 changes to the team. “It will be a team that hasn’t played too often together,” Klopp said. “If this is a chance for Exeter, then they have to take it.” This will all be music to the ears of Exeter’s players, whose team is 16th in the 24-team League Two – a gap of 76 places to Liverpool in the English ladder. The last time Exeter reached this stage was in 2005, when they took Manchester United to a replay after a goalless draw at Old Trafford. MANCHESTER, England (AP): It’s a match that has all the ingredients of a classic FA Cup upset. An injury-hit, inconsistent and potentially jaded Premier League heavyweight making a 500-mile round trip to a team in the lower reaches of the fourth tier with a small ground, poor field, and a recent history of shocking a top side. Exeter’s home game against Liverpool today is the pick of the games in the third round of the FA Cup, when the giants of the Premier League join the teams from the lower leagues and non-league in the world’s oldest club knockout competition. As always, the search is on for a huge shock on one of the most exciting weekends in the English calendar and it could come at the 8,500-capacity St James’ Park, which – located in the south-west corner of England – is one of the most remote grounds in the country. THREE-PEAT GRUELLING SCHEDULE
The victory was a welcome boost for Scorpions following their disappointing defeat to title-holders Trinidad and Tobago Red Force on Thursday, while ICC Americas slid to their second straight defeat, on the heels of their opening-round loss to Barbados Pride. The right-handed McCarthy held the Scorpions’ innings together after it threatened to stall at 61 for three in the 16th over when they lost captain John Campbell (3), fellow opener Trevon Griffith (15) and Devon Thomas (19) cheaply. He counted 11 fours and four sixes and shared a 105-run fourth-wicket stand with Lambert, whose 28 came from 51 balls and included two fours. McCarthy added a further 49 for the sixth wicket with Aldaine Thomas (15), before he was seventh out via the run-out route. In reply, ICC Americas lost captain Ruvindu Gunasekara to the first ball of the innings, but climbed back into the contest through a 42-run stand between Kumar and Steven Taylor (12). Once the stand was broken, however, the last nine Americas wickets tumbled for 34 runs as Jacobs scythed through the innings. AT QUEEN’S PARK OVAL: Trinidad and Tobago Red Force beat Barbados Pride by nine wickets. Scores: Barbados Pride 161 all out off 49.3 overs (Roston Chase 50; Jon Ross Jagessar 3-24). T&T Red Force 163 for one off 35.5 overs (Kjorn Ottley 80 not out, Kyle Hope 70 not out). WELCOME BOOST ST AUGUSTINE, Trinidad (CMC): Andre McCarthy struck his maiden regional one-day hundred and leg-spinner Damien Jacobs claimed a five-wicket haul as Jamaica Scorpions rebounded from their opening-round loss to crush ICC Americas by 184 runs here yesterday. Playing at the Frank Worrell Memorial Ground at the UWI Sport & Physical Education Centre, Scorpions piled up 260 for eight off their 50 overs, with the 28-year-old McCarthy hammering 118 from 119 deliveries. The only other frontline batsman to make it past 20, however, was former captain Tamar Lambert with 28, while Sheldon Cottrell chipped in with a cameo 29 batting at number seven. Fastman Jeremy Gordon was the best bowler with three for 32, while Muhammad Khan claimed two for 63. In their turn at the crease, the Americas never posed a serious challenge and slumped to 76 all out off 26.4 overs. Nitish Kumar top-scored with 42, but was the only batsman to pass 15, and only one of two to reach double figures, as Jacobs destroyed the innings with five for 22. Fast bowler Nicholas Gordon picked up two for 17.