The excitement Liverpool earned from defeating Everton and Newcastle back to back in the Premier League (PL) appeared to be fleeting as their jumbled season continued with a lackluster 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace at the weekend. Given that they are currently in seventh position and nine points outside the top four despite having two games in hand, Liverpool’s attempts to recover have been significantly hampered by their inability to score in four of their previous six Premier League games.
At least the Reds have been able to counteract their recent lackluster offensive performances with some stronger defensive efforts, as they have now kept three straight league clean sheets for the first time this season. After their humiliating 3-0 defeat at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers, who they are currently facing for the fourth time this year, that string of shutouts began (W1, D1, L1). The Kop, though, will be focused on getting back at Liverpool because they have only lost one of their last 34 home Premier League games (W25, D8).
With victories against Liverpool and Southampton, Wolves appeared to be on the right track. But, they faltered by losing 1-0 to Bournemouth and then followed that up with a 1-1 draw against Fulham their most recent game. The result puts Julen Lopetegui’s team just three points above the teams in the relegation zone, though it may not be a fair comparison considering that 14 of their 24 points have come in the span of the Spaniard’s nine Premier League games as manager.
Now that they are on their way to Merseyside, the Molineux team has a chance to make history by defeating the Reds for the first time since the 1950–51 season. Yet, Wolves have lost 18 of their last 20 league outings at Anfield, making it generally an unforgiving hunting ground where they are frequently the prey rather than the predator (W2).
Players to keep an eye on: Cody Gapko will be expected to lead Liverpool back to winning ways after his goals against Everton and Newcastle extended his unbeaten streak when scoring for his team to 23 games (W19, D4). In the rematch, Rben Neves scored the third goal and may now become the first Wolves player to score both at home and away against Liverpool in the same league season since John Richards in 1972–1973. Wolves’ seven second half goals this season are the fewest of any PL team.
Darwin Nunez was able to play against Real Madrid after returning from a shoulder injury, but the striker was unable to participate at Selhurst Park due to new shoulder soreness. It is unclear if Darwin Nunez will be able to play on Wednesday.
Thiago Alcantara, Calvin Ramsay, Luis Diaz, and Joe Gomez are all anticipated to be sidelined as well, but Ibrahima Konate has made a much-appreciated return to full training and might now be given the nod over Joel Matip. Arthur Melo is also vying for his first Premier League minutes after playing the full 90 minutes for the Under-21s at the weekend.
As part of a comprehensive midfield overhaul, Fabinho, Stefan Bajcetic, and Harvey Elliott all be considered for re-entry, and a fit-again Roberto Firmino might put an end to Cody Gakpo’s time in the starting lineup.
In regards to Wolves, Lopetegui lost Matheus Cunha to an ankle injury against Fulham at the hour mark. The Atletico Madrid loanee had to be carried off the field, and the results of his MRI scan are still pending.
Cunha, Hwang Hee-chan, Sasa Kalajdzic, and Chiquinho will all undoubtedly miss the trip to Anfield, however Boubacar Traore is nearing his recovery from a groin injury and has a remote possibility of making the team for this match.
Unless Pedro Neto magically proves his fitness in time, Daniel Podence and Adama Traore should compete for Cunha’s starting spot. Raul Jimenez may anticipate keeping his spot at the top of the attack after rounding off a good outing at Craven Cottage with the assist for Sarabia’s goal.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Bajcetic, Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Jota are likely starters for Liverpool.
Starting lineup options for Wolverhampton Wanderers include Sa, Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Bueno, Neves, Lemina, Nunes, Traore, Jimenez, and Sarabia.
We predict: Liverpool 1–0 Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The stage is set for Klopp’s squad to return to form at the Anfield fortress with Konate possibly joining a Liverpool backline that is once again proving difficult to break down – for Premier League clubs at least.
The Merseyside giants can’t expect to generate a ton of opportunities against a tenacious Wolves team, but one flash of brilliance from their difference makers might be decisive, and there shouldn’t be a replay of the crushing defeat they suffered at Molineux a few weeks ago.