Liverpool will be eager to build on their midweek UEFA Champions League success when they take on Wolves at Molineux on Monday.
We are into the final 10 rounds of fixtures in the 2020/21 Premier League season, as the table starts taking its final shape. Gameweek 29 will culminate on Monday at Molineux, where Wolves will play hosts to Liverpool, with both the teams looking to return to winning ways in top-flight football.
Wolves have endured a massively underwhelming season so far, having managed to win just 9 of their 28 Premier League games till date. Such an average record has invariably left them in the lower mid-table, with 18th-placed Fulham just nine points adrift. Their most recent run has hardly been positive, with Nuno Espirito Santo & co. failing to win each of their last three games.
Liverpool, on the other hand, have been a mess in the defence of their Premier League crown, particularly since the turn of the year. The Reds have won just three of their 12 top-flight outings in 2021, shockingly losing 8 of those fixtures including the last two. Suffice to say, Jurgen Klopp’s men have slowly been sliding down the table, currently placed 8th in the standings, 8 points shy of 4th-placed Chelsea.
The reverse fixture, played at Anfield back in December, saw Liverpool cruise to a 4-0 win over Wolves. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Nuno Espirito Santo has an unchanged squad to choose from ahead of the visit of Liverpool, with no new concerns nor any returning players at his disposal. So, on Sunday, the Wolves manager will continue to be bereft of the services of three first-team players.
Raul Jimenez is a long-term absentee, although he has been making good progress on his recovery trail and could be a part of Mexico’s squad during the international break, albeit only to judge his progress on the training field. Apart from Jimenez, Marcal and Daniel Podence remain unavailable due to their respective groin injuries.
Jimenez and Podence’s continued absence means Adama Traore, Pedro Neto and Willian Jose pick themselves in the Wolves attack. Willian Jose will lead the line against Liverpool while Traore will provide the width from the right flank, with Neto majorly looking to cut in and overload the central areas.
Wolves should be set up in their usual 3-4-3 shape, with Leander Dendoncker once again featuring in defence, where he will have Romain Saiss and captain Conor Coady for company. The three centre-backs will provide cover to Rui Patricio in the Wolves goal.
Nelson Semedo and Jonny Otto will likely be the two wing-backs, with the latter particularly posing a great deal of threat on the overlap on the left flank. In the middle of the park, Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves will aim to keep things tight while providing an outlet during transitions. Both Neves and Moutinho will also pose a threat from their set-piece deliveries and direct efforts, something Liverpool will need to watch out for.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Rui Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Traore, Willian Jose, Neto
Jurgen Klopp does not have any fresh injury issues hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Molineux to take on Wolves. However, the Liverpool boss could be handed a major fitness boost and is only likely to have to make do without five first-team players on Sunday.
The key update comes in the form of Roberto Firmino’s potential return from a knee injury. The Brazilian striker will face a late fitness test to determine his availability, but it is unlikely that he will start against Wolves. The likes of Caoimhin Kelleher, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and captain Jordan Henderson, though, remain on the sidelines.
With Firmino unlikely to start, former Wolves forward Diogo Jota will once again feature in the Liverpool attack, essaying the false nine role in the final third. Jota will sit alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah upfront, with the two wide men aiming to drift into the pockets of spaces that Jota will look to create with his movement.
Meanwhile, Fabinho could feature in midfield once again following a brilliant showing in the UEFA Champions League midweek fixture against RB Leipzig. The Brazilian will likely have Georginio Wijnaldum and Thiago Alcantara for company in the middle of the park, with the duo providing defensive support while also being tasked with providing the forward thrust.
The key creative personnel for Liverpool will be Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, both of whom really need to pull their socks up following some sub-par performances in recent times. Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak should continue at the heart of the Liverpool defence following a solid showing versus Leipzig. Finally, there is no looking past Alisson Becker between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Thiago, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Jota, Mane
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.90
1. Wolves to win @ 5.00
- Wolves have lost eight league matches in a row against Liverpool, one short of their longest top-flight losing streak versus an opponent: nine against Manchester City from 1902 to 1933.
- Wolves have opened the scoring in just one of their last 18 Premier League matches, and that was an own goal by Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
- Liverpool have the worst record in the Premier League since the start of February, earning three points from seven games. Their nine league defeats this season is as many as in their previous three campaigns combined.
- Liverpool have failed to score in eight of their last 13 Premier League matches. The Reds have not ended more top-flight games without a goal in a season since 2011/12. In fact, Liverpool have only scored with two of their last 67 shots from open play in the top-flight
- Wolves played out a goalless draw with Aston Villa in their last match. They could keep a clean sheet in successive Premier League games for only the second time this season.
Player to Watch
Signed in January, Kabak’s move from Schalke to Liverpool has not exactly been a success, albeit due to the Reds’ disastrous displays over the last couple of months. The Turkish defender himself has been culpable of one or two lapses, although he has shown some progress of late as well, and especially in the 2-0 win over RB Leipzig.
Having forged a solid partnership with Nat Phillips at the heart of the Liverpool defence, Kabak showcased his mettle and proved that he is not one to be overpowered easily. He will now become an important figure at Anfield, if Liverpool are to finish the season strongly and mount a challenge for the top four. Will he continue his solid performances going forward, starting against Wolves?
Wolves 0-1 Liverpool
This one will be a far from a straightforward outing for Liverpool, with Wolves expected to sit back and absorb the pressure before looking to hit their visitors on the break. However, unlike some of the Reds’ recent opponents, Nuno Espirito Santo’s charges sorely lack attacking quality.
With that being said, the pressure should be telling for the hosts and a moment of brilliance could swing the battle in Liverpool’s favour. Therefore, The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-0 win for Jurgen Klopp & co. in what will be a crucial result for the defending Premier League champions in their bid to return to the top four.