The Breakdown | Wolves vs Brighton

Having taken down Brentford and West Bromwich Albion in the previous rounds, Wolves are back in FA Cup action on Wednesday evening as Gary O’Neil’s men take on Brighton & Hove Albion at Molineux, and there is plenty to look forwards to.

#1 Inside both camps

Wolves will be looking to book a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since their run that eventually ended in the semis at Wembley Stadium back in 2018/19 when Brighton arrive at Molineux this evening, but if the Old Gold are to get through the fifth round tie, they will need to do it without the help of Matheus Cunha. The Brazilian international striker is still feeling the effects of the hamstring injury he picked up in the defeat to Brentford two and a half weeks ago, so will not be available, but from the players which missed the visit to West Bromwich Albion in the previous round, O’Neil has Hee Chan Hwang, Boubacar Traore and Joao Gomes back in his squad.

Brighton have had their fair share of injury problems this season, with several players set to be unavailable for Roberto De Zerbi’s selection on Wednesday night. One of those is Solly March, who suffered a season-ending knee injury back in October, while impressive teenage full-back Jack Hinshelwood has not played the last three games after picking up a stress fracture on his foot. Forwards Kaoru Mitoma and Joao Pedro are also out after sustaining back and thigh injuries respectively. James Milner has also missed most of the last month through injury, and his fellow midfielder Billy Gilmour is also set to be absent as he starts a three-game suspension after being sent off at the weekend.

#2 Coming into it

Wolves have been in impressive form at Molineux this season, although their run of nine games without defeat came to an end recently in the dramatic late loss to Manchester United, before Brentford made it two defeats from two at home, but O’Neil’s side bounced back with a pair of wins on the bounce away at Tottenham Hotspur before Sunday’s victory against Sheffield United. But with a loss and a draw against Brighton in the league so far this season, Wolves will be hoping its third time lucky on Wednesday night.

Wolves’ last three | W 1-0 Sheffield United (H) – W 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur (A) – L 2-0 Brentford (H)

Brighton’s form in the last month has been quite inconsistent, with De Zerbi’s side following up a 5-2 win over Sheffield United in the last round of the FA Cup with a 4-0 loss to Luton Town and then a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace. Since then, the Seagulls have tasted defeat away at Spurs before a big 5-0 win against the Blades before Saturday’s draw at home to Everton. They will be hoping victory on Wednesday night will begin a new consistent run of results.

Brighton’s last three | D 1-1 Everton (H) – W 5-0 Sheffield United (A) – L 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur (A)

#3 Since last time

Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Wolves 0 | 22nd January 2024

Wolves were in search of a fourth consecutive top-flight win for the first time in 50 years the last time they took on Brighton, which came just over a month ago at the Amex. The Old Gold had their chances, as did the Seagulls, with the returning Pedro Neto proving to be a threat down the right hand side, while Matheus Cunha spurned the best opportunity of the game just after the break as Wolves produced a disciplined showing at the other end of the pitch to earn their first goalless draw of the O’Neil era and extend an unbeaten run to six matches.

Wolves’ XI | Sa, Semedo, Kilman, Dawson, Toti, Doherty, Lemina, Doyle, Sarabia, Neto, Cunha.

From the Wolves side which started against the Seagulls last time out, only Cunha will be unavailable for tonight’s FA Cup match, with the forward still recovering from a hamstring injury. While Brighton have seen some players who were absent back in January now available following their return to fitness, as well as others who started last time are now out are now suffering from the affects of injury or suspension, ruling them out of the fifth round tie.

Brighton’s XI | Steele, Hinshelwood, van Hecke, Dunk, Estupinan, Gross, Gilmour, Milner, Buonanotte, Welbeck, Pedro.

#4 In the media

In his latest column in the Express and Star, former Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards believes the next month to six weeks is likely to be season defining for Gary O’Neil’s men and they need to ‘seize the moment’ in both FA Cup and Premier League.

“Gary O’Neil’s team now find themselves, completely on merit, in the European picture. If you had told any Wolves fan before a ball was kicked they would be sandwiched between Brighton and Newcastle at this point of the season, they would have thought you were joking. You look at some of the games to come, the likes of Fulham, Bournemouth and West Ham at home, then Burnley and Forest away. They are huge games where if Wolves perform to the level they have done consistently this season, there are a lot of points to be won. Before all of that, of course, there is a huge FA Cup fifth-round tie against Brighton tomorrow night.”

Young Brighton striker Evan Ferguson has not found the back of the net in his last 16 outings for the Seagulls, but according to The Athletic’s Andy Naylor and Mark Carey, it’s not all the fault of the 19-year-old Irishman.

“Ferguson limped out of Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against Everton after one shot in 75 minutes and nine passes — the lowest number of passes for any player on the pitch for that amount of time. Barren spells of the kind Ferguson is experiencing happen to every striker. There is a school of thought within Ferguson’s camp that the irregular pattern of match minutes has deprived him of rhythm, but there are good reasons for it. Competition for forward places at Brighton has increased this season following the summer signings of Joao Pedro and Ansu Fati, and the addition of Europa League football to a congested schedule has also led to De Zerbi consistently changing the team from game to game.”