Wolves will look to end a winless run of four matches when they begin their 2020/21 FA Cup campaign against Crystal Palace at Molineux on Friday night.
Nuno’s side disappointingly collapsed against Brighton last weekend to draw 3-3 at the AMEX having been 3-1 up at half time.
Inconsistent Palace picked up a 2-0 win on the same day as they beat lowly Sheffield United at Selhurst Park.
Kick off at Molineux is at 7.45pm and the game will be broadcast on BT Sport Extra 2.
For the first time in Nuno’s Molineux tenure, the pressure seems to be heating on the Wolves boss.
Following some rather baffling decisions in the second half at the AMEX, most fans agreed that the Portuguese had been the main factor in Wolves dropping points, not for the first time this campaign.
Goals from Romain Saiss, a Dan Burn own goal and a Ruben Neves penalty had put Wolves in a comfortable position at the break, but a Neal Maupay penalty and Lewis Dunk drew the Seagulls level in the second half.
Having preceded the point on the South Coast with defeats at Turf Moor and Old Trafford and a point at home to Tottenham, further defeats could leave Wolves well and truly in the mire before the visits of Everton and West Brom next week.
While an FA Cup run in front of empty stadiums probably isn’t high on Nuno’s list of priorities, the mood around Molineux would only sour further were they to lose against a side they comfortably beat just two months ago.
Crystal Palace form
Crystal Palace cemented their status as one of the league’s most inconsistent sides over the festive period, picking up two wins, three wins and two defeats in their seven games in December and January.
Roy Hodgson’s side beat West Brom 5-1 at the beginning of December and picked up a good point at home to Spurs in a game they dominated, but conceded 10 without reply against Liverpool and Aston Villa in back-to-back games either side of Christmas.
In terms of FA Cup runs, the Eagles have a good recent record. While a rotated team lost 1-0 at home to Championship Derby in the third round last campaign, Palace have reached the quarter-finals in two of the last five seasons, and reached the final in 2016 where they lost to Manchester United in extra time.
As has been the case for many years now, Wilfried Zaha is undoubtedly Palace’s key man, but the Ivorian is unlikely to start at Molineux on Friday. Therefore, Wolves will need to look out for his apparent successor, Eberechi Eze, who has impressed since joining from QPR in August for £17m, and scored a superb solo effort in the win against Sheffield United last weekend.
Wolves v Crystal Palace team news
Taking into account Wolves’ injury problems and Roy Hodgson’s tendency to rotate in cups, it’s almost certain that Molineux will host two weakened teams on Friday night.
Leander Dendoncker is back in training for Wolves but probably won’t be risked in a cup tie, while Willy Boly, Daniel Podence and Marcal are out. Jonny and Raul Jimenez remain long term absentees, while Morgan Gibbs-White and Patrick Cutrone should start after being recalled from loans at Swansea and Fiorentina respectively.
U23 players Theo Corbenau and Taylor Perry, who have been on the bench for Wolves’ last four Premier League games, should get starts.
For Palace, Gary Cahill, Martin Kelly, Connor Wickham, Nathan Ferguson and former Wolves man Wayne Hennessey are out, while Christian Benteke will also likely miss the game having been withdrawn after 48 minutes against Sheffield United with a leg injury.
Wolves line up prediction: Ruddy; Hoever, Coady, Kilman, Ait-Nouri; Perry, Otasowie; Corbeanu, Gibbs-White, Neto; Cutrone.
Wolves v Crystal Palace head to head
You don’t have to go too far back to find the last meeting between the two sides at Molineux, as Wolves beat Palace 2-0 in late October.
A debut goal from Rayan Ait-Nouri coupled with a Daniel Podence tap-in gave Wolves three points against the Eagles, who had Luka Milivojevic sent off late on following a VAR review.
Despite this, the Eagles have a decent record at Molineux in recent years, having avoided defeat in five of their six visits to Molineux between 2006 and 2019.
Wolves v Crystal Palace prediction
With two rotated teams going head to head, cup ties like this are almost impossible to predict.
While Wolves have struggled in recent weeks, Palace have bounced back well since their heavy defeats to Liverpool and Aston Villa and dispatched of Sheffield United with ease last weekend.
Despite this, Wolves have the upper hand over Palace in recent games, having beaten them at Molineux twice in 2020 as well as having lost just one of five meetings since returning to the Premier League in 2018.
However, as Nuno’s starting lineup will likely look more fit for a Papa John’s Trophy trip to Carlisle than a first-team FA Cup tie, Palace will progress in this one.
Prediction: Wolves 0-2 Crystal Palace