Scott Groom believes that Jurgen Klopp would not be blamed for not taking this evening’s FA Cup clash against Wolves too seriously.
In the midst of Liverpool’s title charge, an away fixture in the FA Cup against Wolves seems like the most unwelcome of distractions.
The FA Cup has taken something of a back-seat for many in recent seasons, and while it has been something that has been of real importance in past seasons, Reds everywhere seem to be joining that club.
After Thursday’s defeat to fellow title challengers Manchester City, there would have been nothing better for Klopp’s men to have got back on the horse and thrown themselves back into Premier League action as soon as possible.
Next weekend’s fixture against Brighton can’t seem to come soon enough, but instead, we find our attention drawn to a trophy that we’re not sure how to feel about, despite it having found its way into the Anfield trophy cabinet seven times in the past.
So how seriously should Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool be taking the fixture against Wolves? Should we be aiming to have a cup run as well as maintaining a title challenge and a push towards Champions League glory that so cruelly evaded them last season?
Let’s take a look at the pros.
The FA Cup is, despite many thinking the contrary, a magical competition steeped in history; a history which has intertwined itself with the rich tapestry of Liverpool Football Club.
Lest we forget the ‘Gerrard Final’ of 2006, or the Merseyside derby final at the old Wembley in 1986?
Despite what anyone thinks, winning the FA Cup would be brilliant, and it would be a fantastic feeling to welcome a shiny new addition to the trophy cabinet which has waited too long for something new.
No matter what it would be, a trophy is a trophy. Try telling Manchester United fans that their Europa League or League Cup triumphs of recent years are unwelcome additions to their role of honours.
Plus, the more competitions you’re in, the greater the chance you have of winning one of them at the end of the season. Putting all of your eggs in the Premier League basket is a risk, to say the least.
Competing on as many fronts as possible gives Klopp his chance of getting his hands on his first trophy since taking over at Liverpool back in October 2015. For that reason alone, Liverpool should not discount this competition.
After all, pundits are always suggesting that once you’ve got the monkey off your back after winning your first trophy, more usually tend to follow.
Now let’s have a look at the cons.
Liverpool are currently top of the league by four points with a little less than half the season left to play.
This represents Liverpool’s best chance of claiming their nineteenth league crown and first Premier League title in some time – in fact since the 2013/14 season under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers.
This has been Liverpool’s best ever start to a league season, and they undoubtedly find themselves in a brilliant position, so can they really afford any more distractions other than the Champions League to take away from their charge towards a league title?
Fixtures came thick and fast over Christmas and having just seen the back of that, the FA Cup returns and soon after, the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich comes around.
It’s going to be a hectic few weeks, so all in all, Jürgen Klopp may well be thinking about keeping his calendar as clear as possible heading into a crucial few months for his team.
And while he will no doubt see the FA Cup as a brilliant chance to secure his first trophy, he may see it as a lesser competition this year seeing his team’s current league position.
While I am not suggesting that Liverpool should simply throw in the towel against Wolves, it would make sense to perhaps field a far weaker side, resting his more important players ready for the weekend against Brighton as they look to maintain their league from Guardiola’s City.
I am a big advocate of the FA Cup: it’s a wonderful competition and its romance still holds a dear space in my heart. However, there’s a bigger hole in my heart for a league title, and that’s where my heart lies this season.
I would not be too disappointed to see Liverpool go out of the competition at the first hurdle if it helped to maintain a title challenge. That is the holy grail.