Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Prediction: Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: 888sport

It’s round 11 in the 2020/21 Premier League season this week, and there should be a lot of interesting stuff to see. The game which should arguably attract the most attention will be the North-London Derby on Sunday afternoon, closely followed by the clash between Liverpool and Wolvrhampton Wanderers at Anfield in the evening.

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp and his team will be happy with what they’ve done in the Champions League so far. Their 1-0 victory against Ajax means they are now guaranteed not only to reach the knockout stages, but to finish top of Group D as well, leaving the Dutch side to do battle with Atalanta on the final matchday for the second place. They won’t have a care in the world when they take the trip to Denmark to play Midtjylland next week.

As for the Premier League, they’re not far from the top there either, with the 21 points in the bag meaning they’re currently second to Tottenham Hotspur on mere goal-difference despite a heavy injury crisis hitting them hard this term.

The Merseysiders won three of the last six games they played in all competitions, drawing twice and losing once.

Team News

Klopp is, of course, without the services of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez. Neither of the two centre-backs is likely to play again this season, having suffered serious knee injuries. Goalkeeper Alisson Becker is out with a hamstring issue, as is midfielder James Milner. Thiago Alcantara, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri have been missing for a while and they aren’t ready to return yet either.

The good news for Liverpool supporters is that Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita have returned to team training and could be included in the squad, though they aren’t very likely to play the full 90 minutes.

Joel Matip will probably pair up with midfielder-turned-defender Fabinho in the heart of defence. Young Neco Williams could be given another start on the right flank, together with Curtis Jones in midfield. It will also be interesting to see if Klopp puts Caoimhin Kelleher between the posts ahead of Adrian, after the 22-year-old put in a fantastic performance against Ajax.

The evening will probably have a special meaning for Diogo Jota, who left Wolves to join Liverpool in a £45m deal this summer.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves finished the 2019/20 season in seventh place, and after 10 rounds this term, they’re once again in the same spot with 17 points to their name, but that’s only four less than the duo at the top, two less than Chelsea in third, one than Leicester City in fourth, and the same as West Ham United and Southampton in fifth and sixth, respectively. They suffered a late heartbreak then, needing Chelsea to beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final to get a place in the Europa League, but it went to the Gunners along with the trophy instead. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo and his players will be hoping for better luck next summer.

It’s fair to say that Wolves got some revenge last week, beating Arsenal at the Emirates, and that result will certainly give them a dose of confidence when they face the Premier League champions at Anfield on Sunday, but they lost  Raul Jimenez in that match after the striker suffered a fractured skull in a head-clash with David Luiz.

Wolves have exactly the same record as Liverpool in their last six matches – three wins, two draws and one defeat – with the only difference being that they played all of them in the league.

Team News

Espirito Santo used a three-at-the-back system in every game in charge of the team until two weeks ago, when he surprised many with fielding a back four for the first time. It worked well then, so he stuck to it against Arsenal and it was even better.

Romain Saiss was tested positive for Covid-19 but he has recovered, and he or Maximilian Kilman could be the fourth man in defence should the manager decide not to revert to his old formation. Along with Jimenez, Espirito Santo is without wing-back Jonny Castro Otto. 

Pedro Neto, Adama Traore and Daniel Podence are all likely to start after playing very well at the Emirates, young Fabio Silva could take Jimenez’s place upfront, while Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho should be selected to hold the fort in the middle of the pitch.

Conclusion

Liverpool have become very hard to predict this season. We’ve seen some blissful performances from the champions, most notably when they thrashed Leicester 3-0 two weeks ago, but on the other hand, they were utterly woeful in the 7-2 defeat away to Aston Villa and completely lifeless when they lost at home to Atalanta in the Champions League. It’s also worth remembering that the Reds haven’t tasted defeat in 64 league games at their stadium.

Wolves have also shown ability to both surprise and disappoint under Espirito Santo. It should be a tight contest, a game of fine margins as they say, but it seems more than likely that both teams will find a way to put the ball in the back of the net.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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