Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool
21st December 2018
UK TV channel: Sky Sports Main Event/Sky Sports Premier League
The Friday night kick-off may have caught fans off guard when planning their pre-Christmas weekend, but Jurgen Klopp’s men will have been preparing all week for this one. The match is placed just before the start of a run of four fixtures in twelve days, which ends in Liverpool taking on Wolves at Molineux again, but this time in the FA Cup.
Klopp will see rotation as vital in order to pick up maximal points with minimal injuries this Christmas period. In terms of likely incomings to the starting eleven, we could see the midfield change from Sunday’s victory over United. Gini Wijnladum could drop out, having started the last three matches. Personally, I would like to see Fabinho keep his place following his man of the match performance last weekend. His influence on the fame showed that he adds creativity to the holding midfield role. His pass for Mané’s opener was sublime in its weight and timing. This is something we haven’t seen enough of from Jordan Henderson, however, Klopp may trust his captain more in away games.
Wolves aren’t a side to be complacent against. Already this season have they beaten Chelsea at home and took points off Manchester City. They currently sit seventh in the table, just one point behind Manchester United. Amongst the key factors in their solid start to the season has been their consistency in team selection. However, as the season continues and the festive fixture congestion kicks in, the fact that they have only used 18 players in the Premier League, so far this season, may start to be their downfall.
Despite their minimal rotation, they only have one absentee through injury. Diego Jota’s hamstring problem sidelines him, meaning that Raúl Jiménez is likely to keep his place up front, especially given his goal in Wolves’ latest match (a 2-0 home victory over Bournemouth).
For Liverpool, Alexander-Arnold should remain unavailable, however, James Milner is expected to be back in contention.
If Liverpool manage Klopp’s first win over the 27th team that he has faced in the Premier League, they will be top at Christmas for the first time since 2013. In their way will be former academy prospect and lifelong Liverpool supporter, Conor Coady.
Now captain of Wolves, he left Liverpool in 2014 after being on the fringes of the first team for many years. His job, as a centre-back, will be to frustrate Liverpool’s attackers from breaking Wolves’ lines early on. This may frustrate Liverpool’s midfielders into having pop shots from outside the area, which Portugal international, Rui Patricio will be happy to deal with. Manager, Nuno Espírito Santo, will hope that as the game progresses, his side’s star men, such as Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, will gain a stronger foothold and start to acquire more possession. It’s up to Liverpool to keep the game at a high intensity and put Wolves on the back foot.