Liverpool vs Wolves: Pre-match analysis
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Adam Lallana of Liverpool competing with Diogo Jota of Wolverhampton Wanderers during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on December 29, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

The festive season is upon us as we enter the month of December. With some Premier League teams lucky enough to have fans in attendance this weekend, albeit in between plenty of empty seats, VAVEL analyses the big game between Liverpool and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Forms of both teams ahead of the game

Four points separate the two sides ahead of the game on Sunday. Liverpool sits in 2nd place, level on points with the current leaders Tottenham Hotspur, winning six out of their ten games, drawing three and losing only one.

They are also joint top goal scorers in the league, scoring 22. However, they are joint third when it comes to goals conceded in the league, letting in 17 so far.

Their 7-2 loss against Aston Villa being a major contributor towards that. Nonetheless, Liverpool tends to score at least two goals a game, making them very hard to beat.

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On the other hand, Wolves lie in 7th, with three teams Manchester Utd, Manchester City and Aston Villa below them, each with a game in hand that could allow them to leap-frog above the Wanderers. 

Wolves have managed to win five of their ten games so far, drawing twice and losing three. They are currently joint second from bottom with goals scored in the league, based on the teams outside the bottom three, only managing to score 11 so far.

Defensively, Wolves are joint top when it comes to goals conceded in the league, only letting in 11 so far. With only scoring on average a goal a game, they will be relying on some more rearguard heroics at the back, to keep high-scoring Liverpool at bay.

Liverpool dominate the stats

A damning fact for Wolves is that Liverpool have not lost a league game at Anfield since April 2017, which has them on a club-record run of 64 games unbeaten in a row at home. 

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iverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will no doubt be motivating his team to continue their phenomenal run.

Of course, stats are there to be broken and Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo and his men will be hoping to do just that on Sunday. Wolves' form on the road has seen them win three of the six games played away so far, with other three resulting in defeats.  

Since 1894, the clubs have faced each other 106 times. Liverpool have managed to win 53 of those fixtures, giving them a win percentage of 50% overall. Alternatively, Wolves have only won 36, giving them a win percentage of around 34%, with the other 16% being drawn. 

This means that Liverpool go into this game in fantastic form at home, with a strong record against Wolves historically.

Key players to watch for Liverpool

If there was ever a time to play Liverpool at home, it would be now as they are currently missing eleven players from their senior squad. With goalkeeper Allison Becker and 'Mr Reliable' himself James Milner being the latest names added to the physio room, the Merseysiders will be relying heavily on their younger, more inexperienced players to step up.

If ever Liverpool needed a hero, it may come in the form of their new signing and ex-Wolves forward Diogo Jota.

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No-one could have envisaged how well Jota would transition into his new side,  scoring five goals in his eight Premier League appearances so far this season. The former Wolves players do have a history of coming back to haunt the team from Molineux and there will be no love lost when kick-off arrives.

Liverpool will still have a lot of their regular men in attack alongside Jota, with the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohammad Salah being no slouches when it comes to terrorizing defences.

So far, Mane has managed to score four goals and provide two assists, with Salah scoring eight and providing one assist.  A deadly attack, which will cause Wolves problems.

Jordan Henderson will also be in the midfield for the Reds, with the team winning around 80% of their games last season with him in the side, compared to 61.5% without him.

The Liverpool captain will be instrumental in glueing the side together, as Klopp attempts to balance an inexperienced defence, with an extremely dangerous attack.

Key players to watch for Wolves

Wolves sadly find themselves without their main talisman Raul Jimenez, after he suffered a horrible head collision with Arsenal defender David Luiz last Sunday, which left the Mexican hospitalized.

With the good news that Jimenez is recovering well, a giant window of opportunity falls before Wolves' new record signing Fabio Silva.

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After having only a sniff of Premier League football so far, having to be content with sitting on the bench, the young Portuguese forward finally has his chance on the big stage to show what he can do. With Liverpool missing key defenders Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, Wolves will definitely fancy themselves and will be hoping that Silva can lead the line well in Jimenez's absence.

Hoping to join Silva in attack will be the likes of Adama Traore, Daniel Podence and Wolves' arguably hottest prospect at the moment in Pedro Neto.

Although goals have been lacking, with the side shifting from a back three to a back four, the creativity upfront for Wolves is frightening if they are all on the pitch. Liverpool will be hoping their defence can step up to keep the Wolves' forwards from running rampant.

A man who continues to silence his doubters is Joao Moutinho. Many had written off the Portuguese 34-year-old midfield magician this season, but the veteran has pulled some fantastic displays out of the bag recently and is an essential part in how Wolves play. 

With the Belgian midfield engine Leander Dendonker next to him, the Wolves midfield is looking very strong.

Where the game will be won or lost will be in Wolves' defensive third. With the threat of Liverpool's attack, the men from Molineux will be hoping to meet their might with the same steel and grit they have shown so far this season.

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Many have said that Wolves centre-back Conor Coady could not play in a back four, but he looked very comfortable against an Arsenal team that featured Pierre Emerick-Augameyang upfront, as Wolves continue to experiment with their formation.

The Wolves captain has been very solid throughout his time in defence under Nuno, but Sunday will be one of the hardest tests for the back four proposals. If Wolves are to be successful here, Coady will be an instrumental part of that and the Liverpudlian will be looking to impress in his home town.

Unlike Liverpool, Wolves will have their number one goalkeeper Rui Patricio available, with the still Portuguese international being absolutely sensational in between the sticks. The men in gold and black will most certainly be relying on him on Sunday, as he will no doubt be called into action on numerous occasions.

Overall

The statistics are most firmly with Liverpool, with their incredible home form casting a long daunting shadow over the fixture. Wolves though are strong in defence, so if they can match Liverpool's attack, they may then find luck against what will be an inexperienced Liverpool defence.

Still, Liverpool should remain a very solid and efficient unit, despite their injuries. Wolves will have to put in their best performance of the season to find a result at Anfield and hope that former employee Diogo Jota does not come back to haunt them.

 

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