Liverpool will hope to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League when they take on Wolves at the Molineux on Saturday.
The 2021/22 Premier League season continues this weekend, and Gameweek 15 of the competition will kick off on Saturday. The action starts with a London Derby between West Ham United and Chelsea, with Liverpool taking the field after that game, as they lock horns with Wolves at the Molineux.
Wolverhampton Wanderers have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the Premier League this season, winning only six of the 14 games they have played thus far. It has also been characterised by poor outputs in the final third, with Wolves scoring only 12 games in their opening 14 contests.
That has been best felt in their current three-game unbeaten run, wherein they have scored only once. Nonetheless, Bruno Lage & co. are 8th on the table, only three points off West Ham United in the fourth spot. On the other hand, Liverpool have arguably been one of the most difficult teams to beat in Europe this season.
The Reds have faced defeat in just one game across all competitions thus far, with that loss coming against West Ham United last month. However, with Jurgen Klopp’s men often scoring goals for fun, the blueprint for their relentless displays has been crystal clear, and they find themselves only two points adrift of Chelsea to sit third in the Premier League standings.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Liverpool eke out a 1-0 win, with former Wolves attacker Diogo Jota scoring the only goal of the game. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
"They know the quality they have, and for sure, we have to continue to believe, continue to be ambitious and the goals will come.”
— Wolves (@Wolves) December 2, 2021
Bruno Lage has been handed a major boost on the team news front ahead of the visit of Wolves. Ruben Neves is back at the disposal of the Wolverhampton Wanderers manager’s disposal. However, he is still bereft of the services of six first-team players due to injuries and other issues.
Daniel Podence and Marcal continue to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. In addition, Jonny (knee), Yerson Mosquera (hamstring), Pedro Neto (knee), and Willy Boly (match fitness) all remain on the sidelines due to their respective injury woes.
So, although Neves’s return is a huge positive, Lage is shortchanged for options across the pitch. The Portuguese international should slot in alongside compatriot Joao Moutinho in the middle of the park, with the duo looking to remain compact in the midfield battle to restrict Liverpool in their forward movement through the middle.
Nelson Semedo and Rayan Ait-Nouri will be the two wing-backs who will be tasked with providing the width in the final third. At the same time, they will need to drop deep to create a back five in the defensive phases to snuff out the space for Liverpool’s wide men and restrict their chance creation.
Speaking of the defence, Liverpool academy graduate Conor Coady will make his 250th league appearance for Wolves, marshalling the backline, where he will have Romain Saiss and Max Kilman for company. Behind them, there is no looking past Jose Sa in the Wolves goal.
At the other end of the pitch, Raul Jimenez will lead the line for Wolves against Liverpool, with the Mexican striker set to be supplemented by Francisco Trincao and Hwang Hee-chan. Adama Traore, heavily linked with a move to Liverpool, will be a backup option on the bench.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Semedo, Moutinho, Neves, Ait-Nouri; Trincao, Hwang; Jimenez
Like his counterpart in the Wolverhampton Wanderers dugout, Jurgen Klopp does not have any fresh injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to the Molineux. On Saturday, the Liverpool manager will continue to make do without five first-team players.
However, there is some good news, as Joe Gomez (calf) and Naby Keita (hamstring) have resumed training this week, although the Wolves game has come too soon for them. But Curtis Jones (eye), Harvey Elliott (ankle) and Roberto Firmino (hamstring) remain unavailable for Liverpool.
The latest team news ahead of #WOLLIV 👇
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 3, 2021
In Firmino’s continued absence, Diogo Jota will continue to play through the middle for Liverpool. The former Wolves attacker has scored six goals in as many starts for Liverpool recently, and he will be a key figure for the Reds on Saturday. The same goes for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, who are in irresistible touch at the moment.
At the opposite end, Ibrahima Konate is likely to come in for Joel Matip as Virgil van Dijk’s partner at the heart of the Liverpool defence, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and the in-form Andrew Robertson being the two full-backs. Behind them, Alisson Becker will take his customer spot between the sticks.
Up ahead in midfield, Fabinho will hold the key in ensuring Liverpool wrest control of the game away from Wolves, with Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara being the workhorses in the middle of the park. Henderson’s first-time passes will also be crucial in releasing the attacking players on swift counter-attacks, helping Liverpool create the chances through the central areas.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane
- Liverpool have lost just one of their 14 Premier League meetings with Wolves (W11 D2). On Saturday, Wolves could set a club record of 10 straight top-flight defeats against a single opponent.
- Wolves are unbeaten in their last four home league games (W3 D1). However, they have scored just five goals at home in the Premier League this season, the joint-lowest total alongside Norwich City.
- Liverpool are the first team in English top-flight history to score at least two goals in 18 successive matches in all competitions. They have also become just the second Premier League team, after Manchester United in 2020, to score at least twice in 11 successive away matches.
- Just 24 goals have been netted in matches involving Wolves this season, the lowest figure in the Premier League, whereas the 55 scored in Liverpool’s games is the most in the division.
- This season, Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 21 league goals (scoring 13 and assisting eight), the highest total of any player in the top five European leagues.
Player to Watch
While the spotlight, as always, will invariably be on Mohamed Salah, the output of another attacking player will be a major factor in determining which way the scales tip at the Molineux. The forward in question is Raul Jimenez, who has been the leading light for Wolves in recent weeks.
The Mexican striker has allayed the fears surrounding his output since making a popular return to action after overcoming a serious head injury. However, with Wolves’ creative yield being sub-par, to say the least, Jimenez will need to be at his clinical best to keep his side in the game deep into the regulation time. Otherwise, Liverpool could breeze through the contest, just as they did against Everton earlier this week.
Wolves 0-2 Liverpool
Wolves can make life tough for Liverpool, especially if they can retain their shape at the back. However, Liverpool can and do find a way to get past the most stubborn of defensive units thanks to the blistering pace of Mohamed Salah and the guile of Sadio Mane.
So, while Wolves will likely frustrate their visitors in the early exchanges, Liverpool will eventually break free of the shackles to grab yet another win. At the opposite end, there should be little troubling Alisson Becker. Hence, The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 victory for Jurgen Klopp & co. with Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jots scoring the goals.