On Monday night, Premier League leaders Liverpool suffered a 2-1 defeat at Wolves in the third round of the FA Cup. In some ways, the result was not a surprise as the visitors fielded a weakened team, while Wolves decided to go with a near first-choice starting eleven.
The FA Cup has lost its value in recent years. It is understandable that Reds boss Jurgen Klopp rest some of his star players considering his team’s likely fixture congestion for the rest of the season.
Cup exit may be a blessing in disguise
Liverpool currently have bigger priorities than winning the FA Cup this season. The Merseysiders are not just in the race for the Premier League title, but also in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Their good recent form means the Reds are in strong positions in both competitions. However, competing for the title and going deep into the Champions League will mean a lot of games for those weary legs to play.
The Merseysiders will want the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino to play in the big games that matter, so the fewer games they have on their schedule the better.
Klopp’s terrible FA Cup record continues
Jurgen Klopp has previously talked about his admiration for the FA Cup. However, the German has failed to get past the fourth round of the competition in his four seasons with the Reds. In fact, Monday night saw the Merseysiders eliminated by Wolves from the competition for the second time in three seasons. Some have accused the German boss of devaluing the cup competitions by selecting a weakened team.
However, a number of Premier League teams rested key players in their third round clashes, with varying success. Wolves could easily afford to field a strong starting line-up as they are safely in mid-table and have very little to play for this season apart from prize money for league placings.
I am sure Liverpool fans will be less concerned by Klopp’s record in the FA Cup if they win the Premier League or the Champions League this season. Liverpool fans hardly seem concerned by the cup exit at present, so it seems unlikely.
Liverpool have bigger priorities this season
As much as the FA Cup is still a beloved competition, the Premier League and the Champions League are far bigger priorities. Liverpool are still four points clear of reigning champions Manchester City in second place and favourites to win the title.
The Merseysiders are also considered dangerous outsiders to win the Champions League this season. Both of those competitions have a higher profile and more prestige than the FA Cup.
Liverpool are likely to have many important games ahead of them this season, so the extra game that a run in the FA Cup would have brought would only have made the team more fatigue. There is one question about what another defeat does to the team’s mental state, though. However, we will not find that answer out until this weekend when the Reds make a potentially tricky trip to the south coast to face Brighton.
Was Jurgen Klopp correct to field a weakened team against Wolves?