Wolves vs Brighton & Hove Albion: Preview and Prediction

Molineux will host the encounter between Wolves and Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup fifth round, with both sides eager to progress.

Since the turn of the millennium, Wolves have only managed to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup on two occasions and progress to the quarter-finals on one, meaning they will be eager to topple Brighton & Hove Albion at the Molineux on Wednesday evening.

Their previous loss at this juncture came against another South Coast side Southampton, back in the 2002/03 quarterfinals. This time around, the Midlands outfit are eager to move ahead. Reaching the quarter-finals is one thing, but before that, Gary O’Neil will want a stellar performance to beat Brighton at Molineux.

Wolves come into this game in an indifferent state of mind, especially without having to think about their league standings. Their ninth position on the Premier League table allows the manager to have a clear outlook on this FA Cup clash, as he will want to go full strength and focus on the competition.

Wolves come into this clash at the back of three wins in four Premier League games, and last weekend they went past bottom-placed Sheffield United. A solitary Pablo Sarabia strike gave O’Neil’s side the impetus to collect three points, as the manager would love another accomplished performance against Brighton.

Robert De Zerbi remains a baffled figure at the sight of his team dropping another set of valuable points despite their otherwise flying form. In fact, while Wolves could only muster a solitary goal against Sheffield United, Brighton slotted five past against Chris Wilder’s side to progress to the fifth round.

Speaking again about the frustrating outcomes after a smashing game was evident at the weekend as Brighton could only muster a 1-1 draw, that too courtesy of a late equaliser from Lewis Dunk. Meanwhile, the Seagulls suffered a setback in the form of Billy Gilmour’s straight red card that will see the midfielder miss the next three domestic games.

Brighton will want to do better than last season in the FA Cup when they reached the semi-finals of the competition. Recent history will back the Seagulls to progress beyond the fifth round, as they have done so three times in the last six seasons.

Team News & Tactics


Gary O’Neil will want a continuation of their recent good form, although he will rue the untimely hamstring injury to key attacker Matheus Cunha, who will miss the next few games. Beyond that, there is no anyone else in danger of losing out through fitness issues, which could give the manager a window to shuffle his pack.

The likes of Jean-Ricner Bellegarde, Boubacar Traore, Matt Doherty, and Santiago Bueno are all pushing for starts. Tom Doyle has started each of their games in the FA Cup and will expect a spot for him in O’Neil’s lineup.

Whether any of the players from that list above get the nod remains to be seen, as O’Neil may want to keep things from shaking things up too much, considering the momentum and form of some of his players. Without taking out main pieces, the Wolves manager might set out to have a good enough side to get the required result against Brighton, which could see many of his Premier League regulars in action.

Pedro Neto and Hwang Hee-chan might start, and Matt Doherty might get the nod ahead of Rayan Ait-Nouri. In midfield, O’Neil might stick with his tested formula of Mario Lemina and Joao Gomes, with Max Kilman, Toti Gomes, and Craig Dawson all likely to keep their place alongside keeper Jose Sa.

‘Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Jose Sa; Kilman, Dawson, Toti; Semedo, Lemina, Gomes, Doherty; Neto, Bellegarde; Hwang

Brighton & Hove Albion

Billy Gilmour’s sending-off will see the midfielder miss three domestic games, including the trip to Molineux. Jack Hinshelwood, Joao Pedro, Solly March, James Milner, and Kaoru Mitoma are all potentially out of the equation for the Wolves trip.

Striker Evan Ferguson also required on-field treatment during the Sheffield United game, so there are questions about whether Roberto De Zerbi will look to use the forward in this cup clash. He does have Danny Welbeck, should there be a need for an experienced head to lead the line for Brighton.

De Zerbi will keep a good balance of his more regular starters and potentially include some of those players on the fringes of the first team. In midfield, the Italian could recall Carlos Baleba into action to replace Gilmour and partner with Pascal Gross, while Pervis Estupinan might get the nod to start at left-back.

Further behind striker Welbeck, there could be places for Facundo Buonanotte, Simon Adingra, and Ansu Fati. The Ivory Coast international might start on the left side in place of Mitoma. Meanwhile, the Barcelona loanee will take up a move central position as he looks for that one big performance to bring himself up to speed following his long injury layoff.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Steele; Lamptey, Van Hecke, Dunk, Estupinan; Gross, Baleba; Buonanotte, Fati, Adingra; Welbeck

Key Stats

  • Brighton & Hove Albion have scored at least three goals in their last three away matches against Wolves in all competitions.
  • Wolves have seen over 2.5 goals in their last four home matches against Brighton in all competitions.
  • Wolves have only progressed past the fifth round on two occasions since the turn of the millennium.
  • Brighton have won their last three away matches against Wolves in all competitions.
  • Brighton have scored four or more goals in both of their previous FA Cup matches this season.

Player to Watch

Pedro Neto

Embed from Getty Images

A lot of big clubs are circling the Portuguese winger following a stellar season with Wolves so far. While he did not manage to get on the scoresheet over the weekend, Neto has become a key star under Gary O’Neil, as the manager wanted to see more character from his attacker in the run-in to the end of the campaign.

Neto still has a considerable part to play in Wolves’ season as they have a big chance to qualify for Europe either via their league standings or by winning the FA Cup. Either way, they can have a big season by their standards, and for that, Neto must have a significant role to play between now and the end.


Wolves 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton have been largely inconsistent with their displays in all competitions. While they have shown solid goalscoring form in the FA Cup, their draw last weekend showed how quickly things can change on the pitch for Roberto De Zerbi’s side. Hence, the Wolves game will come as a big test for the Italian manager, one that he might fail to win.

O’Neil, on the other hand, has found a way to drill his team to take on the bigger sides in crucial encounters. Wolves have proved themselves beyond capable of getting significant results under O’Neil, and this game against Brighton might be their biggest so far this season. With home advantage on their side, Wolves are the slight favourites to progress to the quarterfinals at the expense of Brighton.

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