Liverpool 1 Wolves 2

The last great FA Cup away day for me was back in 1998 when Don Goodman scored the only goal at Elland Road in an unforgettable quarter final victory.

You can probably imagine how poignant it felt then bumping into the man himself after soaking up this monumental success.

Accompanied by a certain Mr. Bull, Don was only happy to pose for selfies and offer a few thoughts on the game in the Cabbage Hall Pub just a five minute stroll from Anfield.

His general assessment that Klopp’s team selection left Liverpool exposed for what was to come is more or less how I saw it too.

Once it transpired that only a few of the first team regulars would start, alongside reserves and academy graduates, I felt confident of a tightly contested game.

Paul Lambert’s team selection was more predictable with our big game players all selected along with a few of the heroes from the previous round.

The big call was giving Harry Burgoyne the shirt but I sense the young goalkeeper has the temperament to handle such occasions and so it proved.

Astonishingly, it took the home side an hour to force him into any sort of save by which time Wolves were in the driving seat.

Much of that owes to a tremendous midfield effort from Edwards, Saville and Evans who never once allowed Liverpool’s creative talents the space to pick their way through.

I’ve long felt that all of those players get the rough end of stick as they’re judged exclusively on their proficiency with the ball at their feet.

But in a properly balanced team with better technicians further up the pitch, their ability to close down space, regain possession and set counter attacks in motion was the key difference yesterday.

If Richard Stearman’s opener was just a great ball and a well timed header, Andreas Weimann’s strike was a textbook example of punishing the opposition on the break.

There probably aren’t many better ball carriers than Helder Costa and seeing him glide across the Anfield pitch was breathtaking.

Had it not been for well timed toe end tackle from a recovering defender he would have scored the goal of the season with his box to box run.

But he’ll have to be content with two assists after delivering the peach of a ball for Stearman’s goal and then slicing through Liverpool again with a run and pass to Weimann.

If the rumours circulating about his loan becoming permanent prove accurate that’s welcome news, but I’ll be astonished if he’s still around next season.

On the evidence of this performance you’d think Derby might be loathe to dispense of Weimann at the end of the season.

His running (in and out of possession) was exceptional and on several occasions he displayed a turn of pace I wasn’t aware he possessed.

I felt Nouha Dicko struggled to make the sort of impact he’s capable of but still put in a big effort to occasionally win the ball in advanced areas and get his team on the front foot.

But as soon as Liverpool pushed Lucas into defence I was crying out for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and he certainly didn’t disappoint.

The big Icelander is the football dictionary definition of ‘a handful’ and the ideal lone striker.

Not only did he twice come close to scoring (the second chance made for himself with an unfathomable twisting run), he continually held the ball up and eased the building pressure, particularly after Liverpool had reduced the deficit.

Our back four really had to earn their crust in those final minutes when it seemed for all the world that the Kop would suck the ball into the net for a late heartbreaker.

That would have been so harsh on all of them after flawless individual and collective performances.

Stearman was incredible, with his goal the icing on the cake. You’d never question his commitment to the cause but he found another level yesterday and his reading of the game, particularly in cutting out dangerous threaded passes was top drawer.

Hause was more low profile, simply heading and kicking everything that came his way. He never got flustered and was wise enough to make the foul on the one occasion he was beaten for pace.

Matt Doherty couldn’t get forward but still played a crucial creative role in setting Helder Costa free in the build up to Weimann’s strike. He defended superbly and was always well positioned to cut off crosses.

The result probably meant more to Conor Coady than anyone else and he can feel very pleased about his efforts, never putting a foot wrong and staying strong in the tackle throughout.

Paul Lambert was keen to ensure it was the players who received the adulation as he acknowledged the fans at full time but it’s he whose masterminded the turnaround we’ve seen in recent months, culminating in this once in a lifetime victory.

The journey may end in the next round and we’re still far from being safe in the league, but nothing can ever tarnish this wonderful memory.

As I’ve said so many times before, it’s moments that make football worthwhile and this feels like one of the best.

Highlights

Analysis

Paul Lambert

Richard Stearman

Liverpool Vs Wolves Preview

There’s been a fair old kerfuffle over tickets for this one with those who missed out understandably disappointed.

The club have taken some pelters because some feel the loyalty points system is being manipulated, which it definitely is. But in their defence, I’m not sure there’s a system that wouldn’t be similarly gamed.

It’s a shame for those supporters, but now it’s done I prefer to focus on the tremendous backing the team will get when they walk out onto that famous pitch come Saturday lunchtime.

Plenty of fans will have been to Anfield before, but never flanked by 8,500 old gold and black comrades. It promises to be a unique experience.

With such vociferous backing the team will hopefully raise their game as they did at Stoke and push one of the Premier League’s best all the way.

Liverpool

I’ve come to the conclusion that Jurgen Klopp is the perfect modern football manager – intelligent and charismatic with a clear style of play and that magic ability to extract every last drop from his players.

I think much of what Paul Lambert is trying to do at Wolves takes inspiration from what Klopp was able to achieve at Dortmund, a club he of course knows very well himself, and what he’s building at Liverpool.

The German’s team have been fantastic this season but are still 10 points off the pace (owing to Chelsea’s ridiculous run). I hope they can carry on playing well and still be in contention come May.

Not having to contend with European football has been helpful to them, as I don’t think their fairly thin squad could cope with those extra fixtures.

Speaking of congestion, much of how this game will pan out probably comes down to the team Klopp sends out.

They’ve got Southampton in the League Cup semi-final tonight and a crunch game against Chelsea next Tuesday, so it doesn’t seem likely we’ll face their best eleven.

Equally though, I don’t think Klopp would risk sending out the kids against Championship opposition, so I’d expect a sprinkling of big names to make an appearance.

Anfield has been formidable this season with Swansea’s shock victory last weekend the only serious blemish in their 10 home Premier League fixtures. They’ve won seven and drew the other two.

Wolves

Much like his opposite number, Paul Lambert also has the option to ring the changes for the cup. He did just that at the Brittania in the previous round and was handsomely rewarded.

One definite change is between the sticks after Carl Ikeme’s ban was reduced but not expunged. For what it’s worth I’d give Harry Burgoyne the shirt. Investing in that experience for him would be worth the risk.

I really hope Conor Coady gets the nod against his boyhood club. It would be a special kind of cruelty to leave him out, particularly having played so well at right-back.

Hause might get a start but as we already know Williamson is out. I think one or both of Evans and Saville will also get a game, but I’ve got dreamy visions of a thumping Dave Edwards header in front of the Kop so would like to see him feature at some point.

I think Weimann will play (I don’t think he’s cup-tied despite being an unused sub in Derby’s third round win at the Hawthorns). He scored for Villa at Anfield and with Cavaleiro stalling I’d be surprised if Lambert didn’t opt for the Austrian’s tenacity.

Mason, Enobokhare, Bodvarsson or Dicko could all play and I wouldn’t be disappointed with any combination.

There’s been paper talk this week about a deal to sign Costa permanently this month. However that unfolds I can’t see him playing in the Championship next season. It’s unfathomable.

Much like every game, we’ll be hoping for a moment of inspiration from the Portuguese man and if we get a penalty, I’ll feel confident with him standing over the ball.

Paul Lambert

Conor Coady

Predictions

It’s nigh-on impossible to predict how this one will go down. If Klopp really takes the Michael with his team selection I can see us causing them some real grief.

But I don’t think he’ll do that, even with three games to contend with inside a week, so expecting a very tough examination.

This will be a test of Lambert’s ‘play on the front foot mentality’. We came out of the blocks quickly against Stoke though, so no reason to expect this will be any different.

If the conditions are as I expect them to be, I’ll back us to get a replay, just as Plymouth were able to do in the previous round.

2-2.

Up The Wolves!

Wolves Vs Liverpool Preview

Mick McCarthy has made his feelings perfectly clear about ‘heroic failures’, which is just as well because I think we’ve all had our fill.

Just win.

However you need to do it, whatever it takes – just win.

Not this time mate

I don’t care that we were thwarted by decisions against Stoke and Chelsea. I don’t care that we probably deserved more against Villa.

Whatever the excuse is, there seems to be just one consistency – Wolves losing.

And if we’re not losing, we certainly aren’t winning. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for grinding out valuable points, but we need to register a maximum sooner rather than later or we’ll be deep, deep in the brown stuff.

I don’t think you could ever describe a Liverpool visit to Molineux as a home-banker, but we’ve certainly been given every advantage possible to get the job done tomorrow night.

Best player ruled out – check.

Three games in a week – check.

Lost as many games as they’ve won away from Anfield – check.

The Team

If Mick McCarthy doesn’t go 4-5-1 in this game and we lose it, I think his head should be firmly on the chopping block.

We employed the shape perfectly against Villa and but for sloppy mistakes, wonder goals and silly behaviour, we probably would have taken a point at the very least.

Yes, Henry is suspended, but it should just be Milijas or Jonnson in and as you were.

So, that’s a team of:

Hennessey, Foley, Berra, Johnson, Ward, Milijas, Frimpong, Edwards, Kightly, Jarvis, Fletcher

If we go 442 and start slinging balls forward for strikers to chase, I might just lose the will to live.

I’m all for positivity, but after the signs of progress in that first half against Villa, I’d hate to see that immediately undone simply because Karl Henry got himself sent off.

Prediction League

8 people correctly predicted doom against our claret and blue neighbours last weekend, but none got the scoreline.

So it’s a single point each for josh, Jed, Haywood Wolf, robin, Clive from Houston, The Wanderer, garby and Stourbridge Wolf.

I think we’ll take 4 points from the next three matches against Liverpool, QPR and WBA.

So lets go for a defeat in this one, leaving me a draw and a win to play with in the other two.

2-1 Liverpool.

If you’re at Molineux tomorrow, get right behind the lads as you always do. It’s a special atmosphere under the floodlights so hopefully the team will respond.

Up The Wolves.

* An apology to Martin who also correctly predicted the outcome of the Villa match and was rudely overlooked as I totted up the scores. If you spot an error or see that I haven’t awarded you the points you deserve in the Prediction League, please do get in touch.