Liverpool will be eager to consolidate their place atop the Premier League table when they welcome Wolves to Anfield on Sunday.
The games continue to come thick and fast in the busy festive period in the Premier League, as the curtains fall on the proceedings in 2019. Leaders Liverpool will be in action in the penultimate game of the year, as they play hosts to Wolves at Anfield on Sunday evening.
The Liverpool juggernaut has shown no signs of coming to a halt, with the Premier League leaders only going from strength to strength. Fresh from their triumphant Club World Cup campaign in Qatar, the Reds produced arguably their best performance of the season as they trounced Leicester City 4-0 on Boxing Day.
Wolves, on the other hand, are enjoying another impressive campaign, with European qualification a possibility once again. That they are in such a position whilst also being involved in the Europa League only makes it admirable, with the come-from-behind 3-2 win over Manchester City taking them up to 5th on the Premier League table ahead of the latest gameweek.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 2-0 win for Liverpool, with Sadio Mane scoring a match-winning brace. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp is sweating over the fitness of captain Jordan Henderson ahead of the visit of Wolves. On Sunday, the Liverpool manager could be without as many as six first-team players, with Fabinho (ankle) another major absentee for the Reds.
Amid a fixture congestion, Klopp can ill afford to risk the fitness of some of his key players, meaning it is likely that Henderson will not start against Wolves. In his stead, James Milner could be deployed at the base of Liverpool’s three-man midfield.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fabinho still on the sidelines, Georginio Wijnaldum and Naby Keita pick themselves in the middle of the park. At the back, with Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip out on the treatment tables, the defensive quartet of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson become automatic picks.
Sadio Mane appears to be due a rest and could make way for Divock Origi. Origi will likely have Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino as his partners in the three-pronged attack, with Xherdan Shaqiri and Mane providing the backup from the bench. Alisson Becker will take his place in goal as always.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Origi
Nuno Espirito Santo does not have any fresh injury concerns to contend with ahead of his side’s trip to take on Liverpool. On Saturday, the Wolves boss will be without just two first-team players, with Willy Boly (leg) and Morgan Gibbs-White (back) unavailable for the visitors.
Over the course of the season, Nuno has shown a reluctance to make a lot of rotations, and he should follow a similar ideology against Liverpool. Rui Patricio was in inspired form against Manchester City and will retain his place between the sticks once again.
In Boly’s absence, Romain Saiss has stepped up well in the back three and will take his place in the three-man central defensive unit. Wolves captain Conor Coady will shepherd the backline, with Leander Dendoncker occupying the final slot.
Matt Doherty is the undisputed choice as the right wing-back, but Jonny Otto could drop down to the bench, with Ruben Vinagre taking his place on the left flank. In the middle of the park, there is no looking past Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, with the duo looking to dictate play.
Adama Traore has been the go-to man in attack for Wolves, with the young winger not shying from taking on the opposition defender. Traore will likely be engaged in a game-long battle against Andrew Robertson. Raul Jimenez will lead the line against Liverpool, with Diogo Jota completing the Wolves attack.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Vinagre; Traore, Jimenez, Jota
- Liverpool have lost just one of their 10 Premier League games against Wolves (W7 D2), winning the last five in a row by an aggregate score of 12-1.
- Liverpool have won their final league game in each of the last five calendar years, since losing 2-1 at Chelsea in 2013. Wolves, on the other hand, have won their final league game in four of the last five calendar years, losing 2-1 at home to QPR in 2016.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 49 Premier League home games (W39 D10). If they avoid defeat here it would be just the third unbeaten home run of 50+ games in English top-flight history (Chelsea 86, 2004-2008 and Liverpool 63, 1978-1980).
- Trent Alexander-Arnold has registered a Premier League-high 20 assists since the start of last season.
- Raul Jimenez has been involved in seven of Wolves’ 13 away league goals, scoring four goals and providing three assists.
Player to Watch
Long been seen as a player who frustrated for a lack of end product for all his talent, Traore is finally starting to show just what the fuss over his potential was all these years. Up against Andrew Robertson, who has been on the edge in recent games, Traore will have the onus on him to deliver the goods for Wolves.
With tremendous end product backing up the raw pace he possesses, Traore will be the danger man once again for Wolves. Will the young winger produce the game changing performance that will condemn Liverpool to their first Premier League defeat of the season? Only time will tell.
Liverpool 2-1 Wolves
Coming off their best performance in any competition this season, Liverpool are brimming with confidence. However, in Wolves, the Reds face one of the biggest tests of their Premier League campaign till date, with the visitors themselves coming into the game on the back of a stirring collective display of their own.
Having said that, Liverpool have made a habit out of pulling off gritty showings against the face of resilient units and the same should be the case on Sunday. Expect a keenly contested affair that should end with the Reds finding it in their arsenal to grab all three points once again. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Jurgen Klopp & co.