LIVERPOOL VS WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS: FA CUP PREVIEW
Following the woeful performance and defeat at Brentford, Liverpool now turn their attentions to the FA Cup. The Reds, holders of this competition having defeated Chelsea on penalties back in May, begin their defence at home to Wolves on Saturday night. Here’s a preview of the game.
Last season’s competition was a successful one for the Reds as they clinched their first FA Cup trophy since the 2006 final nicnkamed after Steven Gerrard. The Reds ended the 16 year wait by defeating Chelsea in similar fashion to the League Cup final success.
Unlike the League Cup, Jürgen Klopp went very strong with his lineups in the FA Cup. There were only five starts for Academy youngsters throughout the entire competition, with all five coming in the third round tie against Shrewsbury Town.
That could be the case again this time, especially with the Reds struggling this campaign. The side’s problems have been well documented and won’t get a rehashing here. Liverpool are already out of the Premier League title picture and have been knocked out of the EFL Cup by Manchester City.
The FA Cup and Champions League remain the only pieces of silverware achievable for the Reds at this point. It would be a shame to end the season ‘trophyless’. This side (despite it’s glaring issues) boast some of the best players in the world.
It is criminal to waste another season after the 2020/21 campaign where a centre back crisis saw the side end the season with no silverware. With the manager we’ve got, and the calibre of players at the club, the bare minimum should be a trophy a season.
With that being said, Wolves at Anfield on Saturday night needs to be manouvred with minimum fuss. Cody Gakpo is set for his debut as well, which should at least bring a level of excitement. It is a throwback to Virgil’s debut for the club five years ago in this competition.
More recently Luis Diaz also made his debut for the club in this competition, coming on as a second half substitute in the fourth round tie against Cardiff City last season. If Gakpo can have a similar impact on the Reds fortunes as the Colombian, the side will be better for it.
Opponents Wolves are enduring a harrowing campaign of their own. They sit 19th in the league table with relegation looking a real possibility. Bruno Lage was relieved of his duties as a result, with former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui hired to try and salvage the situation.
The Spaniard has overseen four games thus far, registering two wins a draw. Their sole defeat under the Spaniard was a close run thing. They held out against Manchester United till Marcus Rashford broke their resolve in the 76th minute.
Whether Lopetegui will pick his regulars is unclear as at now. He did go close to full strength against Gillingham in the EFL Cup last month but that was his maiden game in charge. Whatever side he picks, he will come up against a fired up Liverpool side.
Wolves don’t concede many goals (they’ve conceded only 5 league goals more than the Reds), but they tend not to score a lot either. Their tally of 11 goals scored is the worst in the entire division. This could be a fiery third round cup tie between two sides looking for better fortunes in a different competition.
January signing Cody Gakpo is set to make his Reds debut after his registration was finalised earlier this week. Roberto Firmino and James Milner meanwhile are still yet to return from respective calf and hamstring injuries.
Jordan Henderson was back in training today after missing the trip to Brentford with a concussion. Virgil Van Dijk is however ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up in the capital. Arthur Melo, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz remain long term absentees.
For Wolves, Chiquinho (cruciate ligament), Pedro Neto (ankle) and Sasa Kalajdzic (crucial ligament) are all out.
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