Liverpool will look to maintain their top spot in the Premier League when they travel to Molineux to face Wolves in a Friday night fixture.
Wolves are back on the throttle and find themselves seventh on the Premier League table. The three-match win streak started with a comeback win over Chelsea, which has been followed by success against Newcastle United and fellow flyers Bournemouth. Wolves though, will be wary that there is not much leeway, with just four points separating them from 13th-placed Brighton.
Liverpool are riding the wave this season. The Reds have overcome hiccups in the Champions League to qualify for the knockout phase. But, as far as the Premier League is concerned, Liverpool have been cruising, with the latest victory coming in a 3-1 result over fierce rivals Manchester United.
There is one problem for Wolves; the fact that all three of their home defeats have come in their last five home league fixtures. But, that could also be spun as a positive to show it as a mere blip. Liverpool, on the other hand, have recorded convincing wins in their last three away games.
Their last encounter was in the FA Cup in 2017, with Wolves emerging victorious by a single goal over Liverpool. We now take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Diogo Jota is the only one unavailable for Wolves for the Friday night fixture against Liverpool.
The three-man backline is working again for Nuno Espirito Santo after a few hiccups. Willy Boly, Conor Coady and Ryan Bennett should retain their place in the back three. Jonny and Matt Doherty have been crucial to the club’s fortunes on the wide defensive slot and the duo should continue.
Ruben Neves has returned but Morgan Gibbs-White has continued to don the starting position, owing to his match defining performance against Chelsea. While Nuno Espirito Santo would wish for a more experienced player in the number 10 role, Diogo Jota’s injury is likely to push Helder Costa up forward alongside the in-form Raul Jimenez.
Ivan Cavaleiro could be an option for Wolves. With Gibbs-White not doing much against Bournemouth, we could see the Portuguese being preferred against Liverpool.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Cavaleiro; Jimenez, Costa
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continues to be on the sidelines. The Englishman is accompanied by a trio of defensive stars – Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold. James Milner missed out the match against Manchester United but could be fit enough to start against Wolves.
Milner will take his position on the right. Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk were solid and should continue at centre-back, with Andrew Robertson on the left. The back four will be shielded by a double pivot consisting of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho.
The recent shift to 4-2-3-1 has somewhat rectified the lack of impetus up front, mostly because it has opened up space to select Xherdan Shaqiri in the starting eleven. The Swiss was the difference coming off the bench against Manchester United and should be rewarded with a start on Friday.
Roberto Firmino should continue his role as the number 10, with Sadio Mane on the left and Mohamed Salah upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Alisson; Milner, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mane; Salah
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.95
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.90
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 4.00
1. Wolves have failed to score thrice in the league this season, all of them ending in a defeat.
2. Wolves have conceded more than twice on just one occasion this season, in a 3-2 defeat to Tottenham.
3. Each of the last four teams to go into Christmas atop the Premier League table have won the league. The last team not to do so though, were Liverpool itself in the 2013-14 campaign.
4. Xherdan Shaqiri has 3 goals in his last 3 games for Liverpool.
5. Raul Jimenez has 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games against the ‘Big Six’ this season.
Player to Watch
Jimenez has been the difference for Wolves against the top clubs in the Premier League this season. To add to it, Jimenez scored in the 2-1 comeback win over Chelsea and one in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth last weekend.
The striker is starting to get a hot streak going at the right time and against a Liverpool defence that has been superb this season, he could pose a few problems by trying to exploit the space between James Milner and Dejan Lovren.
Wolves 2-2 Liverpool
Liverpool are just too good to have their winning streak snapped on Friday. But, the same could have been said for Manchester City. And Wolves have beaten the Chelsea team that snapped City’s unbeaten streak. Wolves are on a positive run and will be tough to beat.
It will be up to Liverpool to stop Wolves from scoring, because if the home side scores, it will be tough for the Reds to grab all three points. Then again, we expect an even encounter between the two sides on Friday, with perhaps an even result.