Fans are expected back in Premier League matches this game week – well at least in some of the fixtures. One such fixture will be played at Anfield on Sunday night as Liverpool host Wolverhampton Wanderers. Liverpool are classified in Tier 2, which means they can welcome 2000 supporters on Sunday night. In a week when Liverpool submitted expansion plans for Anfield, they will welcome a small fraction of the overall capacity, but it surely will be a sight welcomed by everyone in Klopp’s team.
Off the field Liverpool might be getting positive news, but in terms of squad health they are in a terrible condition, with so many first team players forced out due to injuries. That, despite this spate of injuries, the Reds are joint-top at the table, just below Spurs on goal-difference, is a very encouraging sign for Klopp and points to the quality in the larger squad. As Gary Neville was quick to point out on Monday Night Football, Liverpool would have indeed walked the league had they not been plagued with so many injuries. Despite suffering the latest blow – Alisson being forced out with a hamstring injury – the Reds managed to beat Ajax 1-0 in the midweek and ensured that they reached the last 16 of Champions League. In the Premier League, Liverpool drew the last game at Amex Stadium after VAR disallowed a couple of their goals, while awarding a late penalty to Brighton. That draw took them to 21 points in 10 games. Klopp will hope that on Sunday his side can find their seventh win of the season.
Wolves have a shorter list of injuries but suffered perhaps their biggest blow on Monday when Raul Jimenez suffered a head injury in a collision with David Luiz. It was later confirmed to be a fractured skull injury, ruling out the forward for a considerable period of time. Nuno’s team have taken up their customary position in the league table as they currently sit 7th in the table, just 4 points below the league toppers Liverpool and Spurs. Wolves have won five of their 10 games, drawn twice and lost the other three. However, in their last six games, they have suffered only one loss – a 1-0 loss at Leicester – while winning away at Leeds and Arsenal. They have drawn two home games against Newcastle United and Southampton during this time. Nuno will hope that his side can win their second consecutive away game but might be satisfied with a point if they can muster it.
- Liverpool have lost just one of their 12 Premier League games with Wolves (W9 D2), winning each of the last seven in a row by an aggregate score of 15-2. Their only loss was back in December 2010 at Anfield.
- Wolves however know how to beat a reigning champion in their own backyard. They won 2-0 at Manchester City last season and could become just the third team to win away against the reigning champion in consecutive campaigns, after Liverpool (2000-01/2001-02) and Spurs (2016-17/2017-18).
- Klopp’s “mentality monsters” have not had a good campaign so far in terms of preserving their leads. The Reds have dropped more points from winning positions this season (6) than they did in the whole of last season (5), with the 1-1 draw at Brighton being the third time, they have let a Premier League lead slip this season.
- However, this game is at Anfield and Liverpool are currently enjoying the second-longest unbeaten home run in English top-flight history – 64 games. They have won 53 of these, scoring 169 goals and conceding just 42. This also coincides with Wolves’ see-saw away form. They have alternated between an away win and an away loss in each of their last six on the road.
- Wolves have also tightened up at the back after conceding seven goals in their first three Premier League games this season. In their last seven, they have shipped only four goals. They also like to score early and the shut down the games. 55% of their goals (6/11) this season have come in the first half.
Diogo Jota will be keen to face his former side and make an impression. Jota scored 16 goals in 67 premier league games for Wolves. He will look to become only the second player to score both for and against them after Stephen Hunt. He is also looking to score his fifth home goal for the Reds in his fifth home appearance and match Jermain Defoe’s 5 goals at Portsmouth. Only Alan Shearer at Newcastle (15) and Les Ferdinand (6) at Arsenal have scored more at the start of their career at any club. Jota’s xG90 of 0.49 and xA90 of 0.26 indicate a 75% chance of him contributing a goal if he plays for the full 90 minutes.
In Diogo Jota’s absence, Pedro Neto has come into his own. He has scored three goals in 10 Premier League appearances for Wolves, as many as he scored in 29 games in the competition last term. His goals have been decisive as well. They have earned five points for Wolves. Add two assists to those goals and the significance of his contributions emerges, especially in Jimenez’s absence. His xG90 of 0.20 and xA90 of 0.22 also reflect a strong possibility of him troubling the Liverpool defence on Sunday.
For Liverpool, the list of absentees grew in the midweek as Alisson fell prey to a hamstring injury putting him out of action for a fortnight. Although Klopp expects Keita and Alexander-Arnold to train on Friday, they might not make the starting XI on Sunday. Henderson and Robertson are likely to feature however, despite minor knocks they suffered against Ajax. Thiago, who was expected to join back earlier, now has a longer spell on the sidelines and is unlikely to return before the new year. After his stellar performance, Kelleher will hope for a start on Sunday. The expected line up: Kelleher; Neco Williams, Phillips, Matip, Robertson: Henderson, Wijnaldum: Salah, Jota, Mane; Firmino.
For Wolves, the biggest absentee is Raul Jimenez who fractured his skull in a collision with Arsenal’s David Luiz on Monday. While Fabio Silva might be considered a like-for-like replacement for Jimenez, he might not start on Sunday. Either Traore, Neto or Podence could lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 that Santo has preferred over the last couple of games. The expected line up: Rui Patricio; Semedo, Boly, Coady, Marcal; Dendoncker, Neves; Traore, Moutinho, Neto; Podence.
Wolves with a fit Jimenez and Jota in their side would have caused a lot of concerns for the inadequately tested Liverpool defence. However, with both of them out, especially with Jota in the Reds’ ranks, Santo’s team are likely to continue their losing streak against the Reds.
Liverpool 2 – 1 Wolves