Liverpool will look to bounce back from their loss to Manchester City as they travel to face Wolves in the third round of the FA Cup on Monday night.
Wolves are stationed comfortably at ninth on the Premier League table, despite their 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace over the weekend. But, there isn’t a big enough gap between seventh-placed Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion, who sit at 13th on the table, with just 5 point separating the teams.
Nuno Espirito Santo will be aware his side cannot afford to slip into a poor run of form. Coming into the cup game, Wolves are perhaps, blessed to be facing Liverpool at a time when the Reds are looking to bounce back from their first league defeat of the season.
Liverpool are yet to be asked to react to losing in the league and it will be interesting to see how they cope with that, especially with the defeat shrinking their lead atop the Premier League table to just four points.
The two teams last met at Molineux in December, 2018 in the league, with Liverpool emerging victorious with a 2-0 margin. We take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
John Ruddy should come into the lineup to replace Rui Patricio, with Nuno Espirito Santo likely to shuffle his pack to rest some key players. The back three should also see change, with Leander Dendoncker coming in for Willy Boly.
Kortney Hause could have had an appearance as well. But, the defender is in the midst of a transfer tug-of-war and is unlikely to be included in the squad to face Liverpool.
Matt Doherty and Ruben Vinagre will be the two wide midfielders, with Joao Moutinho in central midfield. Ruben Neves should return to the lineup after having fallen out-of-favour in recent times. Romain Saiss and Diogo Jota are both returning and should be in contention to feature. But, neither should start.
The frontline should see Leo Bonatini and Adama Traore fill the spots, with Morgan Gibbs-White acting as the number 10.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Ruddy; Bennett, Coady, Dendoncker; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Vinagre; Gibbs-White; Bonatini, Traore
The Reds will not only have to bounce back from the fixture, but Jurgen Klopp will be keen to rest his players after what has been a true burnout-worthy congested schedule. Simon Mignolet should get a chance in goal after a long wait. The back four is likely to remain the same, with only Andrew Robertson expected to be rested in favour of Alberto Moreno.
James Milner, Fabinho and Naby Keita should form the midfield three. Jurgen Klopp will explore the idea of 4-3-3 once again after his team was undone by Manchester City. Perhaps, it is time to stick to the more modern 4-2-3-1, which has yielded success, thanks in large to the ominous form of Xherdan Shaqiri.
Speaking of which, Shaqiri should start in the front three, with Mohamed Salah likely to be rested. Daniel Sturridge should also get a chance to showcase his skills, especially with Liverpool scouring for a frontman. Roberto Firmino will also be rewarded with much-needed rest. Sadio Mane though, should retain his place on the left.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Moreno; Milner, Fabinho, Keita; Shaqiri, Sturridge, Mane
1. Liverpool are the only ‘Big Six’ side to have not dropped points against Wolves this season.
2. Liverpool are also the only ‘Big Six’ side to keep a clean sheet against Wolves this season.
3. Wolves have scored just 23 goals in 21 Premier League games this season – 10 from 7 matches against the ‘Big Six’.
4. Liverpool have scored in each of their last 17 games in all competitions.
5. Wolves are actually the favourites according to the head-to-head statistics in FA Cup, with the home side winning four of their last six encounters in the prestigious cup competition.
Player to Watch
Moreno’s contract is up for expiry in the summer and he is eligible to sign pre-contracts with teams outside the United Kingdom right now. There has been interest in his services. But, this could be the match that serves as an audition for any potential moves in January itself.
Should Moreno not be able to impress the onlookers, he may have to remain a passenger till the summer, when he will be a free agent. The player will be aware of it himself and should put in a shift against Wolves.
Wolves 2-1 Liverpool
Liverpool are not known to come back from defeats or poor results this season. Even during their struggles in the Champions League, the fixtures that followed the results often saw a despondent Liverpool side take the field, looking unconvincing even in defeats.
This could be the same, especially with Wolves known for their ability to produce results against the ‘Big Six’ of the league this season. With Liverpool expected to field a shuffled lineup, we can see another defeat heading their way. We are tipping Wolves to knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Monday night.