Liverpool travel to the Molineux hoping to go four points clear of title rivals Manchester City. However, Nuno Espírito Santo’s men will be confident of upsetting the odds, writes Sam Patterson (@sam0007ster).
The last time the Reds played Wolves was in a fourth-round FA Cup tie at Anfield back in January 2017, where a second-string Liverpool side were beaten 2-1 by an inspired Championship outfit and subsequently knocked out.
Whilst Jürgen Klopp will be hoping for a different outcome this time round, Wolves have been in fine form of late.
The Premier League newsboys are coming off the back of three straight wins, including a famous 2-1 win at home against Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea.
Santo’s side sit in seventh place – one point behind Manchester United – and have also managed to take points off the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and have run Spurs mightily close.
But Liverpool won’t be fazed, nor should they be. The Reds remain the only unbeaten side in the top flight and have only conceded seven goals – the best defensive record in Europe.
How times change…
The fact Liverpool play the day before Pep Guardiola and co. kick a ball represents the perfect opportunity to pile all the pressure on the Citizens.
Guardiola’s team host Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon and then travel to Leicester four days later.
Amid all the early season criticism, Mohammed Salah is the joint top scorer (10) in the Premier League. The Egyptian has scored four goals in his last three games and will be eager to cement his place at the summit this Friday.
Liverpool have a good recent record at the Molineux. The Redmen have won their last two visits by an aggregate score of 6-0 and Paul Merson, the Sky Sports pundit, predicts a similar outcome this week.
The West Midlands team are yet to beat the Merseyside Reds at home in the Premier League era.
Xherdan Shaqiri is likely to start given his match-winning substitute appearance and two goals against Manchester Utd last Sunday.
Naby Keïta, on the other hand, continues to show glimpses of brilliance but may have to settle for a place on the bench this time round.
Another change could come in defence as James Milner is likely to return after a minor hamstring problem. Although Nathaniel Clyne put in an admirable performance last time out, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Milner slot straight back in.
Fabinho has been at the heart of everything good about Liverpool recently. Not only has his defensive nous been rightly lauded but his assist for Mané’s opener at the weekend showed he has plenty to offer offensively.
The Brazilian dovetailed well with Gini Wijnaldum in midfield both away at Bournemouth and at home against Utd, so Klopp may opt to stick with that pairing.
Klopp gave a positive update on the fitness of Trent Alexander-Arnold earlier this week, but the 20-year-old is not expected to feature against Wolves.
The German said: “It looks surprisingly good. I think wolves will be a bit too early but after that we can think about him.
“The moment he can deal with it, he is on the pitch, and the moment he is on the pitch, we can make the decision. Now it looks good for Trent.”
Joel Matip (shoulder) and Joe Gomez (leg) are also nursing injuries and will be unavailable.
Sam’s predicted line-up:
(4-2-3-1) Alisson; Milner, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Shaqiri, Mané , Firmino; Salah.
KO: 8pm UK time.
Up the Reds.