This time last year, Liverpool were in a strong position heading for Molyneux. They held a seven point lead over Manchester City in the league and opted to field an ‘alternative’ starting eleven for the FA Cup tie against Wolves – the gamble backfired and they were dumped out of the competition.
A few years ago you could probably have got away with rotation here, however Nuno Espirito Santo’s influence has transformed the fortunes at Wolverhampton Wanderers beyond even the wildest dreams of the club’s fans. Having qualified for the Europa League via the play offs, Nuno’s team have shaken off their underdog tag and taken to the competition like ducks to water. Their European adventures has not affected their domestic form and they sit well placed, at seventh in League, and can call on an attacking line-up the envy of many of the so-called bigger clubs.
When these two met at Anfield less than a month ago, a tight game was settled by two VAR-assisted incidents. First, Sadio Mane was adjudged to have scored legally following a handball in the build up, before Pedro Neto saw his goal ruled out for a marginal offside in an earlier phase of play.
This promises to be an entertaining game featuring two attacking teams. Whether Liverpool stick to the script and go for all three points or play cagey and settle for a point, could determine the outcome. With two games in hand and a 13-point gap to their nearest rivals, it is hard to see the Reds going hell for leather. That said, putting more distance between themselves and reigning champions Manchester City before the end of January could be too great an incentive for them to pass up.
Whatever game plan Jurgen Klopp’s arrive with, Wolves will undoubtedly put it under severe stress.
Wolves v Liverpool – Thursday at 7.00pm on BT Sport 1.