Jurgen Klopp does not seem like the type of man to have a crisis of confidence but even the doubts would set him with him if Wolves beat Liverpool at Anfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. Southampton face the a different challenge of refocusing on the visit of Arsenal in the competition after they won at Liverpool in the semi-final of the EFL Cup to qualify for their first major final since 2003 when coincidently they were beaten by Arsenal.
The Midlands clash between Derby and Leicester is being played on Friday night so we will know if our tip on Derby to reach the last four at 18/1 is still alive. Derby are looking half decent in the second Steve McLaren era while Leicester are a poor imitation of the side that won the Premier League last season. When this preview is published my tip on Derby to beat Leicester might look stupid but if they do win Derby could progress well into the competition.
Sutton United are the lowest ranked team in the fourth round of the FA Cup and Manchester United are the richest club in the world. Such is the “romance of the Cup” but Sutton have a task to progress against Leeds that is beyond them and United should beat Wigan at Old Trafford giving up one goal on the handicap. Despite some shocks in the early rounds the cream has nearly always come to the top during the Premier League era. The Big Six are priced at combined odds of 1/4 to win the Cup.
It would take a huge effort to check the record books but it is unlikely that Liverpool have ever lost matches in three competitions in three successive home matches. Losing to Swansea in the Premier League could be put down to a freak result but Liverpool created very little and were caught by a sucker punch when losing to Southampton in the EFL Cup. Losing in the FA Cup would create an unwanted treble and put Mister Klopp under pressure. It’s alright being eccentric when you are winning but the locals might be irritated if their team loses at home again.
Swansea and Southampton are Premier League teams so losing to them is excusable but Wolves are 18th in the Championship and have won just four of 14 league fixtures on the road this season. Team selection will be interesting and surely Klopp will go strong with his selection as he can’t afford Liverpool to lose at home again, especially as Wolves are not out of the woods in the context of relegation to the third tier. Even so they can avoid defeat and take Liverpool back to Molineux for a replay.
Southampton can keep the momentum going and beat Arsenal to move in to the fifth round. Arsene Wenger looked most upset when Burnley were awarded a late penalty in the league at the Emirates Stadium last Sunday. Arsenal scrambled a winner but all is not well again and Southampton can turn the screw by beating the Gunners. Again team selection will be key but Southampton are on a roll so are unlikely to rest too many so can upset Wenger and eliminate Arsenal.
Sutton are currently 15th in the National league which is the fifth tier in the hierarchy of English football. They are 84 places below Leeds in the pyramid so the Cup match between the sides involves two teams furthest apart in the structure. This could be seen as a banana skin but Leeds are a competent outfit who are in the mix to qualify for the Championship playoffs and will not slip up at Sutton. United are going for three Cups and Jose Mourinho understand the value of wining trophies. Expect no dramas at Old Trafford but there could be plenty at Anfield.