Liverpool’s focus switches from the Premier League to the FA Cup on Monday night as they travel to Molineux to take on Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers side in a third-round tie.
Both teams head into the clash having lost their preceding league fixture – the Reds’ 20-match undefeated run came to an end in a top-of-the-table clash at Manchester City and Wolves slipped up at home to Crystal Palace – so each will be eager to bounce back.
Liverpool triumphed 2-0 in the league clash at Molineux last month, but Nuno’s outfit have an otherwise excellent record against the top-flight’s traditional ‘big six’ this season. The Midlanders beat both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, while Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal were held to draws.
So, what can we expect from the Wanderers on Monday night? We spoke to Wolves season ticket holder and blogger Ben Rasmin to get some answers…
How important is the FA Cup for Wolves?
With the team going steady in the league, the majority of our fans would love to see us try and go on a cup run. Wolves last won the trophy in 1960 and we haven’t been to Wembley for a cup final since our Sherpa Van Trophy success in 1988.
Our local rivals West Bromwich Albion, on the other hand, have graced the national stadium on numerous occasions in recent years, which is always a galling sight to behold.
What will the manager have learned from the league clash?
Aside from the fact that Liverpool are a very good side, not too much. That being said, Nuno and his team are meticulous in their post-game analysis and will no doubt have identified things to improve on that aren’t quite as clear to the untrained eye.
I thought it was a game of fine margins, and that we competed well in the first half. Liverpool stepped up a gear after that and ultimately saw the game out comfortably.
What did you make of Liverpool in that game?
Liverpool are without doubt the best side I’ve seen at Molineux this season. The speed with which you transition from defence to attack is very impressive, and in Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk you have two genuinely world-class players.
I think this will be the year you finally win the Premier League, irrespective of the result against Man City.
Will we see wholesale changes in personnel?
Possibly. That has tended to be the case in our cup fixtures under Nuno to date. Last year’s FA Cup campaign was disappointing, but we have fared well in the League Cup (going out twice on penalties to decent opposition) and will be competitive irrespective of what team is selected.
How do you expect Wolves to line up?
As with any modern cup tie, it’s difficult to say. But if I were to guess, I’d say something along the lines of…
Tell us about former Red Conor Coady…
Coady has been a revelation under Nuno. After two undistinguished seasons in midfield, he’s taken to the sweeper role like a duck to water and is good value for an England call-up in 2019.
The raking diagonal passes he often plays to our wing-backs are integral to how we attack the opposition, and his reading of the game is generally excellent. On top of that, he seems a smashing bloke and has captained the side with distinction since receiving the armband.
Which player should the away fans keep an eye on?
We have several talented players but the standout in recent weeks has been Raul Jimenez, who leads the club in goals (six) and assists (five). Ruben Neves showed signs in the recent win at Spurs that he is getting back to somewhere near his best, so he could be influential also.
What is your prediction for the match?
I am an eternal optimist that occasionally borders on the side of delusion, so will go for Wolves to claim a famous 1-0 victory. A man can dream, eh?