Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool

Liverpool will be looking to get their Premier League top-four hopes back on track when they face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Monday night.

The champions have plummeted down to eighth in the table courtesy of a dreadful run of form since the turn of the year, now sitting just eight points clear of their opponents following a recent improvement from Wolves.

There was a celebratory atmosphere for Liverpool when these two sides met in the reverse fixture just over three months ago, as 2,000 fans were allowed back into Anfield to watch their side run riot in a 4-0 win which left them level at the top of the Premier League table.

Fast forward to the present day and supporters are again banned from attending, Liverpool have lost six of their last seven league games and incredibly now find themselves a whopping 25 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

It is a scarcely-believable scenario compared to when the two sides last met but, just as plans are beginning to take shape for supporters to return permanently this time, Liverpool will hope that the light at the end of the tunnel is also in sight when it comes to their form.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were much improved as they booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday night, overcoming RB Leipzig 2-0 in the ‘home’ leg at the Puskas Arena in Budapest to secure a 4-0 aggregate triumph.

In truth, it could and should have been more than two on the night as Liverpool spurned a string of very presentable chances before finally breaking the deadlock and then adding a second to wrap things up four minutes later.

The Reds will be hoping that that quickfire double, which contained hallmarks of Liverpool’s attacking incisiveness of old, signals the floodgates opening again, having scored with only two of their last 67 shots from open play in the Premier League. According to their xG value in that time, they would have been expected to score seven of those.

There have been false dawns before, though, with the most obvious parallel being the home Merseyside derby defeat which immediately followed their first-leg triumph over Leipzig.
Wins over Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United were also followed by three successive defeats, while they followed up victory against Sheffield United in their most recent away game with back-to-back home losses against Chelsea and Fulham, so there is no guarantee that their impressive performance in midweek will spark an immediate improvement domestically.

Indeed, the domestic statistics continue to get more damning by the week; last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Fulham means that Liverpool have the worst record in the entire league since the beginning of February, picking up just three points from a possible 21, while only West Bromwich Albion have scored fewer goals than the Reds in that time heading into the weekend.

Klopp’s men have now lost nine Premier League games this season – including six in a row at home, eight since the turn of the year and six since the beginning of February – which is already their most in a single campaign since 2015-16.
Another defeat on Monday night would see them reach 10 defeats at the earliest stage of a league season for a decade, and more importantly it could have a fatal impact on their top-four hopes.

Heading into the weekend Liverpool are seven points adrift of the Champions League places, and historically their chances of bridging that gap, and undoing the damage of the past three months, look slim.

Only three teams have ever had Liverpool’s current tally of 43 points or fewer with 10 games remaining of a 38-game Premier League season and still gone on to finish in the top four – although Liverpool themselves were one of those teams in 2003-04.

If history is to be acknowledged then there are also positive signs for Liverpool coming into this match, with the Reds unbeaten in away league games at Molineux since August 1981 and having won each of their last eight Premier League meetings home or away.

That run, which already stretches back more than a decade, would become Wolves’ joint-longest losing run in their entire league history if they are beaten again on Sunday, and Nuno Espirito Santo’s side go into the game winless in their last three outings.

Stalemates away to Newcastle United and Aston Villa either side of a defeat to Manchester City have somewhat slowed the momentum which had been built with a run of three wins from four before that.

Even so, the loss at Man City is their only defeat in their last seven league outings, having lost four of their previous six and gone eight games without a win before that.

There has certainly been an improvement since the beginning of February, then, and the fact that they have picked up 12 points in that time while Liverpool have only amassed three should give them plenty of confidence coming into this game.

Wolves will also be pleased to be back at Molineux for the first time in almost a month after three straight away games, having beaten Leeds United 1-0 on their last outing on home territory.

Nuno’s side have not won back-to-back home games yet this season, though, and only managed it once throughout the whole of 2019-20 too, so if they are to improve on their current position of 12th then they will need to showcase some rare consistency at Molineux.

Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League form:
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Wolverhampton Wanderers form (all competitions):
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Liverpool Premier League form:
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Liverpool form (all competitions):
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