At risk of seeing their FA Cup title defence end at the first hurdle, Liverpool travel to Molineux to face Wolverhampton Wanderers in their third-round replay on Tuesday night.
Julen Lopetegui’s men came away from Anfield with a 2-2 draw in the first meeting between the two clubs, but they would have been aggrieved not to have sealed qualification there and then.
Wheeling away in celebration and taking the booking for the shirt-stripping for nothing, Wolves centre-back Toti thought he had knocked holders Liverpool out of the FA Cup at Anfield on January 7, only for the offside flag to be raised and VAR to fail to come to his rescue.
Prior to the camera angle-related controversy, Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah, Hwang Hee-chan and Goncalo Guedes were all on target in a Merseyside thriller, handing Wolves a second bite at the cherry in their bid to send one of the big boys packing.
Still fighting the fight in one knockout competition, Wolves were dumped out of the EFL Cup quarter-finals by Nottingham Forest four days after holding Liverpool, but their return to top-flight duties ended in a crucial 1-0 success over West Ham United on Saturday thanks to Daniel Podence’s sweet strike.
Having ended a four-game run without victory in all tournaments, 16th-placed Wolves have given themselves a bit of breathing space in the Premier League table – sitting two points clear of the dotted line – and finding the back of the net in their last four games is a welcome turnaround for the goal-shy Molineux crop.
Wolves have only suffered two third-round eliminations in the FA Cup since 2016, although both of those came via defeats in replays following opening stalemates, and Liverpool make the journey South with more than just one point to prove.
Being forced to witness possibly the “worst game” of his managerial career, Jurgen Klopp cut a particularly gloomy figure as his side were outfought, outclassed and simply torn to shreds at the home of Brighton on Saturday afternoon, conceding three goals without reply.
Somehow getting to half time at 0-0, the floodgates opened soon after, as the man for the moment Solly March struck twice before Danny Welbeck completed the humbling of the Reds, who can forget about a top-four charge for the time being as they battle to even salvage their European status entirely.
Now languishing in ninth in the table and seven points adrift of the top four, Liverpool are now without victory in three successive games in all tournaments and have shipped an alarming eight goals in that time – extending their run without a clean sheet in all tournaments to seven games.
The reigning FA Cup champions have only suffered one third-round elimination in the past 11 seasons, although that did come at the hands of Wolves in 2018-19, and the West Midlands side also sent the Reds packing in round four of the 2016-17 edition.
However, not since that FA Cup loss in 2019 have Liverpool come out on the wrong end of the scoreline against Wolves – winning seven on the bounce in the league before this month’s draw – so Klopp’s negative feelings on replays may soften slightly if history favours those in red.