WOLVES VS. LIVERPOOL
| Saturday, December 4th |
Premier League | Molineux
3PM GMT/10AM EST
In his pre-match press conference, Wolves manager Bruno Lage was asked to comment on Wolves “going under the radar”: the side have put up three clean sheets on the bounce, having last dropped points in a loss at home to Crystal Palace in early November.
Though they have recorded an impressive (though narrow) win over West Ham United at the end of November and currently sit eighth on the league table, their schedule thus far this season has not been the toughest test: Liverpool is the first side of this season’s top three Wolves will face, and though they have beaten West Ham United in fourth, they’ve managed a loss and a draw against Tottenham, and lost at home to Manchester United.
Lage was appointed as manager in June and has Wolves playing cohesively, though they can struggle against high intensity sides. Both Wolves and Liverpool played on Wednesday, with Wolves managing a 0-0 draw at home to Burnley, and the constricted schedule may influence both line-ups and energy available for both sides.
As a further challenge, there’s a hint of a COVID-19 concern in the Wolves camp, with Lage confirming that Marcal and Daniel Podence have both tested positive for the virus. In addition to these two, Willy Boly, Jonny Castro Otto, Pedro Neto and Yerson Mosquera are all out for Wolves, though Ruben Neves returns from suspension — Neves managed to pick up five yellow cards in 14 matches.
While their opposition hasn’t been the toughest over the spell of the season, Wolves have conceded just 12 league goals, putting them level with Liverpool behind just Manchester City (8 goals conceded) and Chelsea (6 goals conceded). They will face a tough test against a Liverpool side who have scored the most in the league — 43, 10 more than second-placed Chelsea.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Jota, Mané
While Saturday’s match is a bit too soon for Naby Keïta and Joe Gomez, who both took part in partial team training on Thursday, the two should be back in contention as early as Sunday — great news ahead of the December fixture congestion, if not soon enough for the trip to Wolves.
Given the schedule, we might see some changes to Liverpool’s line-up, though given the form Mohamed Salah is in the manager might find it difficult to contain the Egyptian on the bench for his standard winter game off. Bobby Firmino would be a useful addition to the side, but with him sidelined Klopp may stick with his current first choice front three for at least 60 minutes in Wolverhampton.
Given the necessity for game management, however, it would not be out of the question for the likes of any of the front three to be rested in favor of Taki Minamino or Divock Origi, both of whom had a small runout in the dismantling of Everton at Goodison midweek.
The midfield and defense might be similarly rotated, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner ready and able to deputize in the middle of the park, and Ibrahima Konaté able to give Joël Matip some rest. While it would be harsh to drop Andy Robertson after his performance at Goodison, having a capable deputy in Kostas Tsimikas certainly eases the manager’s stress.
With player slowly returning from injury, Klopp will be pleased to have decisions to make ahead of his least favorite stretch of the season. And though Klopp has yet to face Wolves under Bruno Lage, he will hope to maintain his incredible record against Wolves: Klopp has won all six games against the West Midlands outfit, his best record against any one side in his top-division managerial career.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jurgen Klopp: “Wolves had a clear way of playing and Lage changed it in a good direction. A real football side with a good idea. Similar system defending, everyone is involved. When we had a closer look at Jota, the running numbers were incredible, so the offensive players do the same. They have a proper midfield, Jimenez up front and I am really happy he overcome the misery of the awful [skull fracture]. Hopefully he will score lots of goals, apart from Saturday. They’re a really good team. They don’t concede shots on goal. We need to bee creative”
Bruno Lage: “I don’t know if they’re the best [team in the world], but they’re among the best three or five, for sure. The manager is there, they know the system, the players are there, they know how to play, they play every time with high intensity. It’s very hard to play against them, but I think we have our chances and that’s why I’m proud, especially for my players, with how we have gone to these 14 games so far. This is what makes me happy and confident for tomorrow.”
Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Dan Cook, Dan Robathan Fourth Official: David Coote VAR: Jonathan Moss Assistant VAR: Timothy Wood
Kickoff is set for 3PM GMT/10AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.