Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – predictions, team news, and lineups
By Ben Knapton, Senior Reporter | February 26, 2024.
On Wednesday evening, Wolverhampton Wanderers will host Brighton & Hove Albion in an all-Premier League FA Cup fifth-round clash at Molineux.

Gary O’Neil’s side enters the midweek clash after a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United in the Premier League, while the Seagulls came from behind to earn a point against Everton in a 1-1 draw.

While the Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer-esque quarrel between Sheffield United’s Vinicius Souza and Jack Robinson made most of the Molineux headlines at the weekend, O’Neil’s troops went about their business and snapped a two-game losing home sequence with a 1-0 beating of the basement boys.

Jose Sa and his shield had plenty of defending to do on Sunday afternoon, but the toothless Blades failed to wear down the hosts’ rearguard, and a deft Pablo Sarabia header from Rayan Ait-Nouri’s delightful delivery propelled Wolves to a third win from their last four Premier League affairs.

Now on the brink of breaking into the European places – occupying eighth spot in the table with just a single point separating them from Wednesday’s opponents – Wolves also have the opportunity to return to the continent via the FA Cup, in which they have already sent Brentford and West Bromwich Albion packing in 2024.
The 2-0 success over their Black Country adversaries was overshadowed by disgraceful scenes of crowd disorder, which led to a lengthy stoppage in play, but Wolves are now just 90 minutes away from reaching the quarters for the first time since 2018-19, when they were beaten semi-finalists against Watford.

That campaign represents just one of two occasions that Wolves have progressed past the fifth round of the FA Cup since the turn of the millennium – the other saw the hosts lose their 2002-03 quarter-final to Southampton – and now another team from the South Coast seeks to extinguish Wolves’ hopes of silverware.

While Wolves could only muster a solitary goal in their recent beating of Sheffield United, Brighton put a fantastic five past the Blades in their FA Cup fourth-round showdown, prior to which Roberto De Zerbi’s troops hit Stoke City for four in their opening match of the competition.

Brighton rejoiced in another five-star Bramall Lane showing before welcoming Everton to their Amex base on Saturday, desperate to avoid a repeat of their 5-1 humiliation at the hands of the Toffees from 2022-23, but another agonising loss was on the cards when Jarrad Branthwaite picked out the top corner like a seasoned number nine.

However, a day for the defenders saw Lewis Dunk’s looping header steal a point for De Zerbi’s troops right at the death, ensuring that the Seagulls – who will soon face Roma in a fascinating Europa League last-16 tie – will cling onto their Europa Conference League spot in the Premier League table for a little while longer.

Three of the last six FA Cup editions have seen the Seagulls move beyond round five, including a run to the semi-finals in the 2022-23 season, and if their unconventional goalscoring record continues, De Zerbi’s men will score many goals at Wolves’ Molineux base.

Indeed, the Seagulls have scored at least four times in every other match since their 4-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in late December, and they coincidentally won 4-1 at Molineux in August, but O’Neil’s men held on for a goalless draw at the Amex just a few weeks ago.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ FA Cup form:


Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions):


Brighton & Hove Albion FA Cup form:


Brighton & Hove Albion form (all competitions):
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  • A good day at the office for Wolves on Sunday saw O’Neil lose no more players to injury in the success over Sheffield United, leaving hamstring victim Matheus Cunha by himself in the treatment room, and there is still no timeframe on the Brazilian’s recovery.

    With almost a full complement of players to pick from, O’Neil is sure to consider some alterations to his setup, although second-choice goalkeeper Daniel Bentley is yet to don the gloves in the FA Cup this season and may not come into contention for the fifth round.

    However, all of Jean-Ricner Bellegarde, Boubacar Traore, Matt Doherty and Santiago Bueno should be pushing for starting roles at Molineux, as will Tommy Doyle, who has been given the nod for each of Wolves’ three games in the tournament so far.

  • Brighton, on the other hand, are without a midfielder following Billy Gilmour’s red card in the draw with Everton, for which the Scotland international will serve a three-game suspension across all domestic leagues.

    The visitors also had Evan Ferguson receive on-field treatment over the weekend, but De Zerbi said after the game that the striker’s confidence levels were more important than any injury, so offensive rotation should not be an issue on Wednesday night.

    De Zerbi will be unable to call on Kaoru Mitoma (back), Solly March (knee), or Joao Pedro (thigh) to reinforce his offensive contingent, and midfielders Jack Hinshelwood (foot) and James Milner (thigh) are also out injured.

  • Wolverhampton Wanderers’ likely starting lineup: Sa; Kilman, Toti, S. Bueno; Semedo, Lemina, Doyle, Ait-Nouri; Neto, Bellegarde; Hwang.

    Brighton & Hove Albion’s likely starting lineup: Steele; Veltman, Webster, Dunk, Estupinan; Baleba, Gross; Fati, Lallana, Adingra; Welbeck.
    We predict: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-1 Brighton & Hove Albion (a.e.t., Brighton to win on penalties).

    A match as close as the Premier League standings would imply should be played on the Molineux pitch this week, but unlike January’s fierce Amex fight, the net should ripple on both sides as both managers consider a few changes.

    No fifth-round replays means that the tie must be settled by extra time and penalties if required, and with Brighton already well-versed in handling the additional pressure of Europa League football, we give De Zerbi’s men the advantage from 12 yards.

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