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Foxes have bigger fish to fry

Frank Monkhouse | 8 February 2017

Do Leicester need the hassle of an FA Cup run?

Leicester look to give fans a rare reason to cheer in midweek when hosting Derby in an FA Cup Fourth Round replay at the King Power Stadium. But, is it really worth the hassle for last season’s Premier League champions?

Granted, the FA Cup is adored by fans the world over, but do The Foxes need the distraction of an extended run in the competition when they have a relegation fight biting down hard? It is, undoubtedly, one of the closest run races at the wrong end of the table in recent years and, back in the summer, there wouldn’t have been many punters expecting to see Leicester in the thick of it.

Sacrifices must be made

But they are and, with a record of just five wins, six draws and a hurtful 13 defeats from their 24 league starts, fans are beginning to run low on confidence in the team. Leicester have lost each of their last four league starts, against Chelsea, Southampton, Burnley and, most recently, Man Utd. To make matters worse, they have failed to score a single goal in five, a run covering all of 2017.

Sections of the media are beginning to turn on manager Claudio Ranieri, suggesting last season’s champ is this year’s chump, and bookies have him near the top of the market to be the next manager to lose his job. Offer the boss a straight deal – a run in the FA Cup or keep their place in the top flight? You’d get your answer without hesitation. Ask fans, who love the competition so – win the FA Cup and stick it in the trophy cabinet, glittering away next to last year’s Premier League title, or stay in the top flight? Once again, they’d put you in the picture straight away.

The curse of the FA Cup

We have witnessed in the past the curse of the FA Cup, and what a drive in the competition can do to a side. Remember Wigan’s win back in 2013? Yes they won the title, yes they beat Man City in the final 1-0, and yes they got their day in the sun in front of over 86,000 fans at Wembley. But at what cost? They were relegated the same season, finishing down in 18th, taking the plunge alongside Reading and QPR. The Latics lost 20 matches on-route, Leicester have already lost 13.

That relegation hurt the club, right to the core, and they are now second-bottom of the Championship, looking likely to be relegated to League One. Let’s take that in for a second – Wigan won the FA Cup in 2013, but could be a League One side in 2017. Forget parachute payments and winner’s medals, that’ll all seem a very distant memory at the DW Stadium these days.

Derby looking a lot more attractive

Ranieri’s boys also have the Champions League to contend with, and have half a chance of going and doing something in that tournament too. With his office door firmly closed, gaffer Ranieri may not see the point of pushing for FA Cup success, all things considered.

A bet on Derby to beat Leicester on Wednesday can be had at a very tempting 14/5 at Coral, while The Rams to qualify is 13/8.

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