Preview: Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Fans may not be expecting sparks to fly at Anfield on Wednesday night, as two goal-shy teams in Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers renew hostilities for the fourth time this year in the Premier League.
The Reds laboured to a point in a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on Saturday, prior to which Julen Lopetegui’s men came away from their meeting with Fulham with a point of their own in a 1-1 stalemate.
Being humiliated 5-2 on their own patch by Real Madrid would no doubt have left Jurgen Klopp’s men shell-shocked, and Liverpool could not shake off the cobwebs when they met Crystal Palace on Saturday, as both sets of supporters left the stadium without getting their money’s worth.
The woodwork may have been rattled three times by Diogo Jota, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Mohamed Salah, but in truth, neither team really looked like scoring in the capital, quickly bringing an end to Liverpool’s Premier League purple patch in which they saw off the threat of Everton and Newcastle United.
However, with Brentford and Brighton & Hove Albion not in action at the weekend, that point was enough to lift Liverpool into seventh place in the table, but they have a nine-point gap to make up to Tottenham Hotspur, who have played two games more.
A third Premier League clean sheet on the bounce at Selhurst Park was a small silver lining for the Liverpool faithful, whose side have also taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer at Anfield in the top flight – losing just one of their last 34 home contests in the Premier League.
Shaky performances from Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold in particular left the travelling fans biting their nails at Selhurst Park, but the Reds have only faced five shots on target in their last three games, and attacking proficiency is not exactly Wolves’ forte.
Wolves became the latest team to feel the full force of Manor Solomon’s super-sub powers for Fulham, who went behind to a Pablo Sarabia finish at Craven Cottage on Friday night before the Israeli attacker did what he does best off the bench.
Curling home a delightful equaliser with 64 minutes on the clock, Solomon denied Wolves back-to-back away wins in the Premier League, but taking seven points from their four fixtures in February has allowed the West Midlands crop to create some breathing space between themselves and the drop zone.
Now 15th in the table and three points clear of the dreaded dotted line, Wolves travel to Anfield having only lost to Manchester City in their last six Premier League away matches, although not since August’s draw at Bournemouth have they kept a clean sheet on the road.
However, Wolves and their 18 goals no longer hold the title of the worst attacking team in the Premier League – that unwanted honour now belongs to Everton (17) – and the Kop will need no reminding of how Lopetegui’s men tore them to shreds 3-0 at Molineux a few weeks ago.
That astounding win for Wolves came after the visitors had drawn 2-2 at Anfield in the third round of the FA Cup before losing 1-0 in the replay thanks to Harvey Elliott’s screamer, and a similar piece of individual brilliance could yet again prove decisive on Wednesday.
Liverpool Premier League form:
Liverpool form (all competitions):
Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League form:
Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions):
We say: Liverpool 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
With Konate potentially returning to a Liverpool backline that is once again proving difficult to break down – for Premier League teams at least – the stage is set for Klopp’s side to revert to type at the Anfield fortress.
The Merseyside giants cannot expect to create a plethora of chances versus a dogged Wolves side, but one moment of magic from their difference-makers could prove telling, and there should be no repeat of the Molineux drubbing inflicted upon them a few weeks ago.