With Liverpool’s season in serious danger of unravelling, the FA Cup has taken on a new level of significance for Jürgen Klopp and his side.
Having spurned the chance to appear in their second EFL Cup in as many seasons on Wednesday, England’s other cup competition is now their greatest chance of earning some silverware this season – and that means that that they cannot afford to lose at home for the third time in a week with Championship side Wolves coming to Anfield.
However, there is the small matter of a Premier League clash against league leaders Chelsea just three days later, where defeat would kill off what little title hopes they have left and would be a serious blow to their top four aspirations.
If nothing else, a second win in eight games would be brilliant for morale, so while Klopp will undoubtedly make changes on Saturday, Wolves must be respected highly enough to the point where whatever team he puts out will have to be at their best to defeat the visitors.
If any player came through the torrid displays against Southampton with any credit, it was Karius. The young German made a number of fine saves to keep the score down in both legs, showing exactly why Klopp brought him to the club in the first place.
It’s a long road ahead for the 23-year-old, but his response to being dropped for Simon Mignolet has been exemplary and he will get another chance to impress this weekend.
Right-Back: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Centre-Back: Joel Matip
Centre-Back: Joe Gomez
Left-Back: Alberto Moreno
Trent Alexander-Arnold could not have dreamed of having so much match time in his early Liverpool career, but Nathaniel Clyne’s injury issues have made the 18-year-old’s inclusion a necessity. That being said, the young defender has been giving a fine account of himself and can do so once again on Saturday.
In the centre, Joe Gomez is likely to be given another chance to ease his way back into first-team contention, having started in both matches against Plymouth. Gomez is set to be given a new long-term deal at Anfield and will be a big part of Klopp’s plans going forward.
Next to the 19-year-old, Joel Matip could be given another start ahead of Lucas Leiva or Ragnar Klavan. The Cameroonian centre-half made his long-awaited return from injury and FIFA red tape against Southampton in midweek, and despite the Chelsea match coming up, Matip’s involvement against Wolves could be needed.
As for Moreno, as Liverpool’s second-choice left-back he is almost certain to get the nod but his performances in the role lately would not exactly have been worrying for James Milner.
Defensive Midfield: Kevin Stewart
Centre Midfield: Georginio Wijnaldum
Centre Midfield: Adam Lallana
Kevin Stewart had looked like becoming Liverpool’s “Mr. Dependable” at the beginning of the season, used at the end of matches to shore things up and see out the match. However, he has not played in the league since September and defeat on Saturday could spell the end of his involvement in the first team for this campaign.
Wijnaldum, meanwhile, was introduced as a late substitute against Southampton, but has solidified his place in the regular starting eleven. That being said, the Dutch international needs a big performance soon (as do the rest of the team, to be fair).
Lallana was restored to what is seen as his better position of central midfield in midweek, and would have no qualms with playing in three matches in less than a week. The only concern would be that Klopp has confirmed that he needed stitches after the Southampton match, which could rule him out in the end.
Right Wing: Roberto Firmino
Left Wing: Sheyi Ojo
Striker: Divock Origi
Roberto Firmino’s two goals against Swansea last weekend were a welcome return to form for the Brazilian, and with Sadio Mané still on international duty, he is arguably Liverpool’s biggest attacking threat and should be kept in, even with one eye on Tuesday.
On the other flank, it would be wise to give Philippe Coutinho a rest and start young Sheyi Ojo. Klopp slightly criticised the 19-year-old’s lack of focus against Plymouth but has been impressed with his response since, so Ojo could well start against the club he spent some time with on loan last season.
In the centre, it’s a coin toss as to which of Liverpool’s misfiring strikers starts. Origi’s goalscoring form has taken a nosedive since a decent run in December, while Sturridge has scored just twice in his last eleven games. Neither would inspire confidence right now, but with Sturridge starting on Wednesday it’s probably Origi’s turn to step up.
Read More About: adam lallana, alberto moreno, divock origi, FA Cup, Georginio Wijnaldum, joe gomez, joel matip, jurgen klopp, kevin stewart, Liverpool, loris karius, Roberto Firmino, sheyi ojo, trent alexander-arnold, wolves