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Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's FA Cup clash between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Liverpool turn focus to the FA Cup on Monday night as they take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux in round three of the world's oldest club cup competition.

The Reds suffered their first league defeat of the season on Thursday night and will be looking to quickly respond in one of only two all-Premier League ties.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Willy Boly celebrates scoring for Wolverhampton Wanderers in their Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur on December 29, 2018© Reuters

A lot has changed since Wolves last locked horns with Liverpool in the FA Cup two years ago. Back then, Wanderers were embroiled in a relegation battle of sorts in the second tier and would go on to finish the campaign 15th under Paul Lambert.

Wolves prevailed 2-1 at Anfield in January 2017 to make it through to round five, but a similar scoreline this weekend would not provide the same sense of shock as it did then, having since earned promotion to the Premier League and forced their way into top-half reckoning.

Now under the management of Nuno Espirito Santo and boasting some of the finest foreign imports in the division, Wolves may well view this season's FA Cup as a good chance to add a major trophy to their cabinet for the first time since lifting the EFL Cup in 1979–80.

Wolves' form has been pretty mixed over the festive and New Year period, with a 3-1 win away to Tottenham Hotspur being swiftly followed up by a 2-0 loss at home to Crystal Palace to sum up the club's recent fortunes.

Nuno's men produced a fantastic display in seeing off Tottenham at Wembley through three goals in the final quarter of the match, maintaining their positive record against the top-flight's established elite.

That bodes well for Monday's meeting with Liverpool, as Wolves tend to keep their best displays for the big matches, having also taken points off Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in the first half of the season.

The one name missing from that list of top-flight scalps is Liverpool, of course, and if Wolves are to come out on top on Monday then they must rectify a disappointing home record in the FA Cup.

Of their last six home ties since beating Doncaster Rovers in round three eight years ago, Wanderers have drawn two and lost four, most recently playing out a stalemate with Swansea City at Molineux 12 months ago before losing the replay 2-1 in South Wales.

That loss allowed them to focus solely on their Championship promotion drive in the final third of the season, but this time around the FA Cup may well take on added importance for Nuno and his men.

Recent form (all competitions): WWLDWL


Liverpool players celebrate scoring against Arsenal on December 29, 2018© Reuters

Liverpool may have lost 2-1 at Man City in midweek to end their unbeaten start to the Premier League season, but Jurgen Klopp is confident that his side have the bottle to bounce back and finish top of the pile for the first time since 1990.

The Reds still hold a four-point lead over the champions at the summit with 17 matches to go, meaning that it is very much theirs to lose at this stage.

For now those title aspirations can be put to one side, with Klopp having to prepare his side for one of the trickier third-round ties they could have expected.

Klopp would have much preferred a tie against lower-league opposition, which is the case for each of the Reds' top-six rivals, but instead it is an all-Premier League tie with a dangerous Wolves side at Molineux.

Worryingly for Liverpool fans, their side has been eliminated from five of their last seven FA Cup ties against fellow top-flight opponents, most recently being dumped out by a struggling West Bromwich Albion side in round four 12 months ago.

However, the Merseysiders have not been knocked out at this stage of the FA Cup since the 2010-11 season, when they lost 1-0 against Man United, and they will start the game as favourites to progress through.

Should that be the case, the Reds will remain in contention for silverware on three fronts heading into the final few months of the season, having also set up a blockbuster Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich.

If the mantra of taking it one game at a time is true, Klopp will have eyes on Wolves and nobody else. Liverpool have been dealt a difficult hand in their first outing in this season's FA Cup, but should they come through it unscathed their campaign will well and truly be back on track.

Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWL

Team News

Naby Keita evades a challenge during Liverpool's Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on December 21, 2018© Reuters

Diogo Jota is back in contention for Wolves after sitting out their last four matches through injury, as is Romain Saiss after picking up a knock in the surprise defeat to Palace.

Nuno is expected to freshen up his side slightly, meaning that Ruben Neves may return to the fold after recently losing his place in the starting lineup, while Leo Bonatini - yet to make a Premier League start - is also in contention.

Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio has been an ever-present in the top flight since joining last summer but should be given a breather on Monday, most likely making way for John Ruddy, but defender Kortney Hause is less likely to feature as speculation continues to mount over his future.

In terms of the visitors, Klopp remains without injured duo Joe Gomez and Joel Matip at the back, forcing his hand somewhat in that department. Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren may therefore be retained from the loss to Man City.

Alberto Moreno is one of those that would likely have come in to give regular left-back Andrew Robertson a breather, but the Spaniard is not fully fit, and there is a lack of options on the other flank as Nathaniel Clyne has joined Bournemouth on loan.

Naby Keita, Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge are the others pushing for a start after being overlooked at the Etihad Stadium.

Wolverhampton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Ruddy; Bennett, Coady, Dendoncker; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Vinagre; Gibbs-White; Bonatini, Traore

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Fabinho, Keita; Shaqiri, Sturridge, Mane

Head To Head

This will be the seventh FA Cup meeting between Wolves and Liverpool, with Wolves winning four of the previous six, including the last such meeting in January 2017.

Wanderers were beaten 2-0 when the sides faced off at Molineux in the Premier League a fortnight ago, however, losing to goals from Mohamed Salah and Van Dijk either side of half time.

The Reds have now won each of their last four matches against Wolves in the top flight, but they have failed to win three of the last seven in all competitions.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Liverpool

Liverpool had won eight matches in a row prior to their defeat at the Etihad Stadium, and it remains to be seen just how big a blow that narrow defeat will be in the grand scheme of things. Klopp will be desperate for his side to hit back at the first attempt, but Wolves have a habit of frustrating the Premier League's top six and could force a replay - the last thing the visitors will want in what is already a busy month.

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Who will win Monday's FA Cup tie between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool?

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Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the opener during the Champions League group game between Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain on September 18, 2018
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1Manchester CityMan City35292489226789
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs352311165353070
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd35197963501364
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves35149124443151
10Leicester CityLeicester35146154847148
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham35127164454-1043
12Crystal Palace35126174348-542
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle35118163544-941
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3597193254-2234
18Cardiff CityCardiff3594223065-3531
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3535272069-4914

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