From one cup to the other, Liverpool face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on Saturday – the fixture coming just a few days after failing to overcome Southampton in the FA Cup semi-final.
Let’s not get carried away now. Yes, we should be beating Southampton over two legs but that can be very difficult when Saints park the bus and wait to counter for 180 minutes of football.
I’m not bitter – they deserve to be in the final with Manchester United, I’m just trying to explain why I think we were unable to feature in back-to-back League Cup finals.
Eh, I think we have relied on Sadio Mane a bit too much but that’s inexcusable. The injury to Nathaniel Clyne came at a very bad time too; when our defenders seemingly can’t do their job.
Anyway, Liverpool have a chance to redeem themselves. A win at Anfield this Saturday would see Jurgen Klopp’s Reds progress to the last 16 of the FA Cup (otherwise known as the fifth round).
Reaching the final of the FA Cup would be dramatically better than doing the same in the League Cup – not to downplay the competition at all but the FA Cup is much more illustrious than the League Cup.
Liverpool are one of 13 Premier League teams remaining in the competition this season, with many of our rivals facing off against opposition from the top tier of English football.
With all due respect, Liverpool should be demolishing a team that is currently sat in 18th place in the Championship. Should. Remember I said should.
Adam Lallana will unfortunately have to sit out this game; he sustained an injury against Southampton – don’t worry, he just needs to have some stitches done, he’ll be back soon.
Jordan Hendeson and Joel Matip, who have both been hampered by injuries of recent both looked fine against Southampton – physically – and I expect them to be available for selection against Wolves but would be extremely surprised if even one of the two play on Wednesday.
Nathaniel Clyne couldn’t make our last game and, having been unable to train this week, will be unavailable for Klopp for the weekend fixture.
I expect that Klopp will turn to some of our younger players and some of our players that wait for a fixture like Wolves at Anfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup to get some game time.
Strong possibility that Kev Stewart will feature in our midfield and, as he sat out most of the game against Southampton, I’d expect Gini Wijnaldum to start against Wolves.
There are a few other players I have earmarked for potential appearances this weekend and they are Sheyi Ojo, Joe Gomez (who has just signed a new long-term deal) and Trent Alexander-Arnold. I also think this would be a great time to give Divock Origi the nod.
Wolves are likely to put out a strong side – if they don’t, their second string would be embarrassed by a mixture of Liverpool’s first and second team.
Saturday’s visitors are to be without their winger Michal Zyro – he’s had an unfortunate run of injuries of late, to our fortunate, he’s a Poland international and has three goals in seven league games for Wolves. Not bad for a 24-year-old winger in the Championship.
Any Wolves fans reading this: 1) I’m not sorry, but I am ridiculously biased. 2) Good news. Zyro will be available for selection again in about two-three months.
Liverpool (last six results in all competitions) –
Liverpool 0-1 Southampton
Liverpool 2-3 Swansea
Plymouth 0-1 Liverpool
Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool
Southampton 1-0 Liverpool
Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool
Every week it’s getting harder to write that. ???
Wolves (last six results in all competitions) –
Norwich 3-1 Wolves
Wolves 1-0 Aston Villa
Sheffield Wednesday 0-0 Wolves
Wolves 1-2 QPR
Wolves 3-2 Bristol City
Forest 0-2 Wolves
Two teams that are playing some very inconsistent football.
I did it again. In my last piece I’m made another optimistic claim. Here’s what I said:
I do think that Liverpool will beat Southampton and reach the final of the League Cup this year. I actually think this game will be somewhat of a turning point for us – not to say we’ve been awful recently, but we haven’t been great.
But… this time, with feeling! I actually would like to reiterate my sentiment from the last game. Although we really should have overturned the result in the last game, we really, really should advance to the next round this time.
Wolves aren’t playing great football. From one game to the next, the fans aren’t sure which Wolves team they’re going to see; the inspired players fighting for the shirt or a group of players destined for League One football.
Not much better can be said for Liverpool – one week we look as if we are going to be the biggest challenge for this season’s obvious Premier League champions, Chelsea, and the next week look as if we’d fit into a relegation battle.
I’m not saying we’re that bad but after losing to Swansea and drawing with Sunderland, an untrained eye could mistake us for something much less than what we are.
With all that being said, I think Klopp will turn this ship around. We can’t afford to spiral like we have been any more. We’ve got two competitions we’re in now and should have two priorities:
1. Qualify for Champions League football.
2. Win the FA Cup.
In that order.
With that, I think Klopp will take this game seriously, as will the players selected, and the scoreboard at Anfield will read Liverpool 3-0 Wolves at full time.
It’s time we remind ourselves what we are all about and a convincing win can get us back on track.
If you’d like to strongly disagree with me or remind me of what I’ve written, when Wolves repeat their 1947 5-1 thrashing of Liverpool, you can find me on Twitter – @StefanoHairon