Sports Mole previews Thursday's Premier League clash between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool, including predictions, team news and head-to-head
Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups
Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups
  • 2020-01-21 21:10:26 10 months ago
  • Views 3,160

Champions-elect Liverpool travel to Molineux to face Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday looking to continue their remarkable run of form.

Jurgen Klopp's side have won 21 and lost none of their 22 games in the Premier League this season to build a 16-point lead at the top of the table, but take on a Wolves side that ran them close in the reverse fixture at Anfield.

Match preview

Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah celebrate Liverpool's win over Manchester United in the Premier League on January 19, 2020.© Reuters

For all of the records Liverpool have shattered in this astonishing season so far, it took a win over bitter rivals Manchester United - the only team they had previously failed to beat in the league this term - for the fans to finally make a public declaration of their belief that this will indeed be their year.

The chorus of 'We're going to win the league' which echoed around Anfield after Mohamed Salah raced clear to make sure of a 21st win from 22 games this season felt like a significant moment on Merseyside.

It was a chant which provided the soundtrack to their 2013-14 title challenge, but the agonising fashion of that near miss and the one last season - as well as 30 years without a title - had understandably caused caution amongst fans.

However, it is easy to see why they are now confident enough to sing those words; Liverpool's win, coupled with both Manchester City and Leicester City dropping points, leaves Jurgen Klopp's side a whopping 16 points clear in mid-January, which is the biggest lead any team has had at this stage of a Premier League campaign, and with a game in hand too.

It would take an unprecedented collapse to throw it away from here, and no element of Liverpool's form over the past two years suggests that is coming.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on January 19, 2020© Reuters

The Reds have taken a scarcely-believable 91 points from the last 93 on offer to them in the Premier League and their unbeaten streak now stretches to 39 games - should they avoid defeat to Wolves then only Arsenal's Invincibles will have enjoyed a longer run in the competition's history.

Stretching even further back, Liverpool have lost just one of their last 61 league games, so the prospect of them dropping 16 points in their 16 remaining matches this season looks nigh-on impossible.

Talk has already begun regarding when and where - rather than if - they will win the title, and on their current trajectory they could have the chance against Everton at Goodison Park in March, a full month earlier than the current record for earliest title triumph.

Klopp has remained steadfast in his refusal to look beyond the next game, though, and that is well-advised ahead of an away trip to a Wolves team that has already beaten Man City at Molineux this season.

Wolves also caused Liverpool a serious scare at Anfield in the reverse fixture, when VAR came to the Reds' rescue on two occasions to award Sadio Mane's goal and disallow an equaliser moments later for the most marginal of offsides.

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo applauds fans after the match on January 1, 2020© Reuters

The defeat at Anfield sparked a run of five games without a victory across all competitions for Nuno Espirito Santo's side, but they came roaring back to winning ways on Saturday with a rousing comeback against Southampton.

The in-form Saints appeared in control when they went into half time with a two-goal lead, only for Adama Traore to inspire a second-half comeback as Wolves ran out 3-2 winners - their first victory since beating Man City by the same scoreline on December 27.

That victory over City is Wolves' only home win from their last four games, but in general they have been difficult to beat at Molineux, losing just three of their last 30 outings in front of their own fans - a run which incidentally began by beating Liverpool in the FA Cup last January.

However, they have also drawn more home games than they have won in the league this season - including against Newcastle United last time out - and know that so many dropped points threaten to undermine their challenge for another European campaign next season.

Wolves do currently sit in sixth place, while the final Champions League spot is by no means out of reach, but should any of the teams around them find the sort of consistency which most have been lacking in the league this season then Wolves could see what is currently a five-point gap grow.

The mighty Raul Jimenez celebrates scoring for Wolves on January 18, 2020© Reuters

The upcoming run could be an important one in that respect with Liverpool, Manchester United and Leicester to come in their next three games, before resuming the Europa League campaign which has seen them play more matches than any other Premier League outfit this term.

One element Nuno must eliminate if they are to bridge the gap to the top four is to prevent his side from needing to climb a mountain in every game; Wolves have conceded first in each of their last seven Premier League games and in a division-high 16 of their 23 outings so far.

In fairness, they have gone on to rescue 18 points from those losing positions - seven more than any other team in the division - but they cannot expect that against a Liverpool team which has proven themselves to be experts at seeing tight games out this season.

Indeed, the league leaders have now kept seven clean sheets in a row, which is their best run since December 2006 and one short of their own club record for the competition.

Sunday's triumph over United also saw them score in their opening 22 games of a league season for the first time ever, so Wolves will have dilemmas to solve at both ends of the field if they are to become only the second team to take points off Liverpool this term.

Wolves Premier League form: WWLLDW
Wolves form (all competitions): LLDDLW

Liverpool Premier League form: WWWWWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Team News

Liverpool's Fabinho reacts after sustaining an injury on November 27, 2019© Reuters

Liverpool handed a welcome return to Fabinho from the bench against Manchester United, and the Brazilian could come into the starting lineup for the first time since November in this one.

The form of Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum has created greater competition for midfield spots, though, and the same is true in defence where Joe Gomez is expected to keep his place ahead of the fit-again Joel Matip.

Dejan Lovren is also closing in on a return to the squad, while Xherdan Shaqiri will be assessed ahead of this game following his latest calf problem.

Naby Keita, James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne remain longer-term absentees, but Klopp has no new injury concerns following the win on Sunday.

Wolves, meanwhile, are hopeful of welcoming Diogo Jota back into the fold after a calf injury, although he may have to settle for a place on the bench with the front three all impressing against Southampton.

Indeed, it could be an unchanged team for the hosts, with Willy Boly and Ruben Vinagre the only two guaranteed absentees.

Wolves possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny; Neto, Jimenez, Traore

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Head To Head

Liverpool have won each of the last six Premier League meetings between these two sides, conceding just one goal in that time and keeping clean sheets in each of the last four.

Indeed, Wolves have not picked up a league win over Liverpool at Molineux since August 1981, while in the Premier League era the Reds are unbeaten in five visits with again only one goal conceded in that time.

Thursday's hosts have experienced some joy against Liverpool in cup competitions recently, though, knocking the Reds out of the FA Cup twice in the last three years.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Wolves 0-1 Liverpool

Thursday's match looks like it could be one of the toughest Liverpool have left this season, but Klopp's side have become masters at grinding out results. Wolves have a dreadful scoring record against the Merseysiders and have developed an unwelcome habit of conceding the first goal in games recently, which is a position Liverpool very rarely drop points from nowadays.

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