Liverpool vs Wolves
Referee: Craig Pawson
Wolves have the unenviable challenge of travelling to Anfield this weekend in one of the stand-out matches in matchday 11.
With Liverpool holding the second longest unbeaten home runs in English football history, Jurgen Klopp has helped turn Anfield into the fortress, reminiscent of the successful Liverpool teams of the 70s and 80s. However, after Wolves’ last outing at Arsenal, they came away with all three points, meaning Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will travel to Merseyside full of confidence.
In their title-winning campaign last season, two of Liverpool’s trickiest games came against their opponents on Sunday evening. The first game at Anfield was packed full of VAR controversy as Sadio Mane’s first half strike earned the spoils for Liverpool, before a late Roberto Firmino winner gave the champions a crucial three points at Molineux.
In a season that has been packed full of unpredictability, VAR, penalties and late goals, expect more of the same on Sunday. With Liverpool sitting in second place and Wolves in seventh, both sides have lofty ambitions this year and positive results for either team will them on their way to achieving their goals.
In the wake of Raul Jimenez’s shocking head injury picked up at the Emirates last weekend, it is likely their 18-year-old starlet Fabío Silva will lead the line for the visitors. It will be his full Premier League debut, having only featured off the bench so far. What a place it would be to score your first goal for your new club. And with Liverpool’s defensive injury woes, the teenager will be looking to seize his opportunity with both hands.
Sunday’s fixture will also be the first time that Diogo Jota meets his former club. The Portuguese forward has been one of the signings of the season having already scored nine goals for his new employers.
After Liverpool secured their progression to the Champions League knockout stages as group winners in midweek, their match against Midtjylland on Wednesday is a dead rubber. This will mean Klopp can play a full strength team and not have to worry about conserving the energy levels of his star players.
Liverpool suffered more injury trouble in midweek as Alisson will miss two weeks with a light muscle strain. Caoimhin Kelleher Keller excelled in his Champions League debut on Tuesday night and is set to be entrusted again on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Thiago Alcantara will be out until the new year. The Spaniard is yet to recover from the knee injury he suffered in the Merseyside Derby. With a lack of midfield and defensive cover, it looks likely that Fabinho will again partner Joel Matip in defence, with Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum sitting in front. This leaves the fantastic four of Jota, Firmino, Salah and Mane for the Wolves backline to contend with. Trent Alexander-Arnold is nearing a return to fitness after missing the last month due to a calf injury, but after Neco Williams put in a strong performance against Ajax in midweek, he may have to settle for a place on the bench. Naby Keita could also return.
As mentioned, star striker Jimenez will be missing for Wolves after suffering a fractured skull last weekend, with Fabio Silva set to deputise. In their last matches, Santo has mixed it up from his usual wing-back formation and opted for a more conventional 4-3-3/4-2-3-1. Captain Conor Coady has proved he is capable of marshalling the defence without two other centre-halves alongside him.
Adama Traore gave Andy Robertson nightmares the last time these two faced each other, and the winger will be relishing the challenge of facing one of the top premier left-backs in world football again. Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto, bit-part players last season, have established themselves as first-team regulars this campaign.
Predicted Starting XIs:
Liverpool: Kelleher; N. Williams, Fabinho, Matip, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum; Jota, Firmino, Mane, Salah.
Wolves: Patricio; Semedo, Boly, Coady, Marcal; Dendoncker, Neves; Traore, Podence, Neto; Silva.
Score Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Wolves
In what will be a closely fought affair, Liverpool’s ability to just win football games, particularly at Anfield, should be enough to get them over the line. However, the visitors have plenty of attacking firepower to punish any lapses of concentration in the Liverpool back line.