Liverpool Club Focus – Wolves clash the real test for Reds despite cup successes

Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool may have enjoyed a phenomenal week of success by dumping title-chasing Manchester City and Manchester United out of the Carling Cup and FA Cup respectively, but in truth it will be the Reds’ performance on Tuesday night at Molineux which will indicate whether they have turned a corner.

The Merseysiders have been flying in cup competitions so far this term, but a brief glimpse of the Premier League table suggests that things have not been so rosy for them in the top-flight. The Wolves clash provides Liverpool with the chance to climb back up into the top five. But the three precious and much-needed points are by no means guaranteed.

It must be remembered that the Reds were beaten convincingly by relegation-threatened Bolton Wanderers in their previous league game less than 10 days ago. And while a lot has changed since then – Liverpool will undoubtedly be more confident given their recent cup success – Dalglish’s men have not been performing up to expected standards in the top-flight of late, with just one win in their last six games.

It is also interesting to point out that Liverpool failed to win in the league immediately before and after their victory over Chelsea in the League Cup back in November and a similar story can be told more recently when the Reds’ FA Cup win against Oldham and Carling Cup semi-final first-leg victory over City were sandwiched between a league defeat at the Etihad Stadium and a disappointing stalemate against Stoke at Anfield. This pattern indicates that the Merseysiders may just have been distracted by the cup competitions lately. They cannot afford to continue this trend if Steven Gerrard and co want to end the season in the top four.

As things stand, Chelsea occupy that much-coveted position, but Liverpool are just six points behind with 16 games to play. While they have every chance of closing down that gap before the season comes to an end, after Liverpool play Wolves, their next three Premier League fixtures will be against Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal – with a trip to Wembley scheduled between the latter two games. That is undoubtedly a tough schedule. It is essential that the Reds take maximum points from Molineux ahead of those matches.

On the plus side for Liverpool, some of their players are hitting form. Craig Bellamy has been superb this season and will be looking to continue his good run, while both Dirk Kuyt and Andy Carroll can take a lot of heart from their performance against Manchester United. Menacing Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez will also be available for selection next week, following a lengthy ban. Dalglish could also add to his squad before the transfer window closes on Tuesday night.

The last few days have been terrific for Liverpool and things could get a whole lot better in the coming month. Reds’ fans have some great games, the return of Suarez, a potential new signing and a trip to Wembley to look forward to. What a difference a week makes.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Wolverhampton v Liverpool

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