Wolves host an out of sorts Liverpool side on Monday night at Molineux as they look to get back to winning ways after two draws and a defeat in recent weeks. Wolves will look to take advantage of the struggling Champions who have won just one league game from their previous seven. The game will be behind closed doors and broadcast on Sky Sports ‘Monday Night Football’ with kick off at 20:00.
Wolves most recent game came at Villa Park where the points were shared with local rivals Aston Villa. As has become normality, Wolves were poor in the first half and perhaps fortunate to be level at the break, but wasted two golden opportunities in the second half, and were ultimately disappointed not to take all three points. Despite being far from exciting to watch, Wolves are in relatively good form losing just one league game in seven, with the only defeat coming at the hands of run-away leaders Manchester City. Wolves will look to finish the season in the top half of the table and have a realistic chance of doing so if this form continues, with the threat of relegation and any hopes of European football both now seeming unlikely.
It was always going to be difficult for Liverpool to reach the heights of their previous two seasons, but no one could have envisaged their dramatic decline in the past two months. Liverpool have won just one of their previous seven league games, a 2-0 win at struggling Sheffield United. What is even more surprising is that four of those seven games have been home defeats, bringing an end to a three-year run without losing at Anfield. Liverpool have however, progressed through to the next round of the UEFA Champions League beating RB Leipzig 4-0 on aggregate. Comically, even this win did not come at Anfield and instead came in Budapest owing to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Wolves once again remained unchanged for the draw at Villa Park as Nuno opted to stick with the eleven that has brought about the recent upturn in form. Willy Boly is likely to be available for selection once again after being an unused substitute in Wolves’ previous two games. Leander Dendoncker has struggled at centre back and may drop to the bench if Boly is fit to start. Wolves’ striker situation continues to spark debate among the fanbase, but Nuno seems to be showing persistent faith in January signing Willian Jose who is still searching for his first Wolves goal. Fabio Silva has provided a number of energetic cameos in recent weeks and looks to be benefitting from a more senior player above him in his position. Raul Jimenez is continuing his remarkable recovery from his fractured skull suffered in November and could be available as early as April. Nuno revealed in his pre-match press conference that the Mexican striker could join up with his international teammates in the UK for a training camp later in the month, but that he will not be available for selection.
Likely Line Up: Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Semedo, Moutinho, Neves, Jonny, Neto, Jose, Traore (Subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Ait-Nouri, Dendoncker, Kilman, Gibbs-White, Vitinha, Otasowie, Silva)
Liverpool, like Wolves, have suffered a large number of injuries to key players this season, most notably centre-back Virgil Van Dijk who is continuing his recovery from an ACL picked up at the start of the season. Liverpool have used a staggering 20 different centre-back partnerships this season, with injuries to Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also hampering Jurgen Klopp’s men. Neither of these three will be available for selection at Molineux, but Liverpool have been rejuvenated slightly be the return of Fabinho and former Wolves striker Diogo Jota. Roberto Firmino will face a late fitness test ahead of the game having missed the previous two Liverpool games with a minor knock.
Wolves and Liverpool have met on 117 occasions in all competitions with Liverpool coming out on top 54 times. Wolves have on the other hand been victorious on 36 occasions. The most recent encounter between the two was a 4-0 win for Liverpool at Anfield back in December. Since returning to the Premier League, Liverpool have won all five encounters in the league, but Wolves were left scratching their heads as to how this was the case last season. Wolves were extremely unlucky to have an equaliser disallowed at Anfield after a marginal offside call against Jonny Otto. In the return game at Molineux in January Wolves were excellent and fully deserving of a point from the game, only for Firmino to score a late winner. Despite Liverpool’s recent dominance in the Premier League, Wolves have knocked the Red’s out of the FA Cup on two occasions in the previous five seasons.
Wolves have an impressive record against the ‘big six’ since their return to the topflight in 2018 but, like many things, this has not continued this season. Wolves are likely to continue their recent trait of being conservative and soaking up any pressure early on. A depleted Liverpool side are not without the firepower of Salah, Mane and Jota, meaning they will certainly pose a threat that should be taken seriously. However, Wolves should also look to take advantage of their unfamiliar centre back pairing, with the potential for inverted wingers Pedro Neto and Adama Traore to cause problems if Wolves can get on the front foot for sustained periods of the game. With the return of Wily Boly likely, I’m backing Wolves to limit the number of clear-cut chances Liverpool will have and take at least a point from the game at Molineux.
Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Liverpool