John Dykes’ FA Cup Preview

In a way, Jurgen Klopp is this weekend trying to keep the wolves from his door. Yes, it’s ridiculous to think there are those saying he should be out of work after Liverpool’s poor recent run, culminating in Wednesday’s EFL Cup exit, but another cup setback against Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend would certainly not help his mood.

The FA Cup encounter with Paul Lambert’s Championship outfit has suddenly become a tricky prospect for Liverpool, who have lost their last two home games and struggled badly for goals from open play. Klopp can ill afford to substantially weaken his team for this game, despite Chelsea waiting just around the corner in the Premier League.

Lambert has already said Wolves have nothing to lose and if he should feel the need to wind Klopp up at all on the touchline on Saturday, he could always point out that he actually won the UEFA Champions League with Borussia Dortmund!

While the draw for the 4th Round may not have thrown up any blockbuster ties, there are some compelling and perhaps confusing games ahead for the Premier League clubs vying for a place in the last 16.

Leicester City, for instance, are in big trouble in the league and have Sevilla in the Champions League at the back of their minds. They travel to Derby, who are seventh in the Championship and well capable of springing an “upset”.

The biggest upset of all would be a win for League Two Wycombe Wanderers at White Hart Lane. They are unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions and have the fearsome physicality of Adebayo Akinfenwa to call upon up front. Spurs though are flying right now and will be hoping to get some goals out of Vincent Janssen if they decide to ring the changes selection-wise.

Arsenal

Their North London rivals Arsenal won’t have it all their own way against Southampton, who have already knocked the Gunners out of one cup competition this season. Will Alexis Sanchez be rested? Does Danny Wellbeck get a first start of the season? Will Theo Walcott be the man to decide this one against his former club?

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Chelsea should not be troubled by Championship opposition, in the shape of fellow West Londoners Brentford. We may see the likes of Nathaniel Chalobah and Nathan Ake in from the start for the Blues but Cesc Fabregas could dictate what happens as he battles in midfield against former Chelsea man Josh McEachran.

Similarly, Manchester United will make a change or two for Sunday’s visit by Wigan Athletic. They will want to take out the frustration borne of back-to-back draws on the Latics but will also respect the fact their opponents have won their last three games in all competitions.

Lastly, the tie of the round could come at Selhurst Park. Suddenly the FA Cup has become important to both Crystal Palace, who need to find some form in a hurry, and Manchester City, who will see the Cup as perhaps their best chance of earning Pep Guardiola some much-needed silverware. The game also throws up the mouth-watering prospect of Leroy Sane and especially Gabriel Jesus being given substantial game time.

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