After comprehensively outplaying Manchester United in what to be Jose Mourinho’s final game in charge of the Red Devils, Liverpool know that three points away to Wolves tonight will ensure that they sit top of the Premier League on Christmas Day. Jurgen Klopp‘s men have won all five matches played so far in December, making light of a busy fixture schedule to knock Manchester City off the top of the table and ensuring their passage to the Champions League knockout rounds. They’ve also beaten their two biggest historical rivals since the start of the month, giving Kopites plenty to cheer in recent weeks.
However, their credentials as prospective title challenges will face a stern test tonight when they visit a Wolves side who have put a November blip behind them to move up to seventh in the table. Also, the men from the Midlands have claimed some big scalps since returning to the Premier League, drawing with Manchester City in August and beating Chelsea a couple of weeks ago. If Nuno Espirito Santo’s men can extend their winning run and inflict a first league defeat on Liverpool, they will temporarily move into the top six, which at this stage of the season would be a tremendous showing. We analyse some of the most pertinent statistics ahead of what promises to be a pre-Christmas cracker at Molineux.
Last 6 Premier League games
Liverpool: W6, D0, L0, F16, A2, Pts 18
Wolves: W3, D1, L2, F8, A7, Pts 9
Liverpool made it six league wins on the bounce last Sunday against Manchester United and have not dropped points since the start of November, when they drew at Arsenal. The only blemish on their most recent result was the soft goal conceded to Jesse Lingard, just the second that the Reds have shipped at Anfield in the league all season. The league leaders have scored in their last nine Premier League games, with Manchester City the only team to keep a clean sheet against an apparently misfiring attack since the season started.
Wolves’ 2-0 victory over Bournemouth last weekend was their third in a row in the Premier League, the first time they have managed that feat in what is their fifth season in the competition. Prior to the surprise, come-from-behind triumph over Chelsea earlier this month, they had picked up just one point from six games, with that victory against the Blues coming after galling defeats against Huddersfield and Cardiff. Those results are indicative of Wolves’ season so far – careless against teams they would expect to beat, but more than capable of taking points off the title chasers. Of the five teams immediately ahead of Wolves in the table, only Tottenham have managed to beat Nuno’s side.
Premier League head-to-head record
That Liverpool have won the majority of Premier League meetings between these two is not surprising, although an equal split of home and away wins (three each) might be. Their first Premier League clash was in January 2004, a 1-1 draw at Molineux, with Liverpool winning the reverse fixture 2-0 a couple of months later. When Wolves were next in the top flight in 2009/10, Liverpool again won 2-0 at Anfield and were again held to a draw in the away fixture.
Wolves got their first Premier League win against the Reds in December 2010 when Stephen Ward scored the only goal at Anfield towards the dying embers of Roy Hodgson’s hapless reign. By the time the teams met again less than a month later, Kenny Dalglish had taken charge of Liverpool, for whom Raul Meireles scored a stunning volley in a 3-0 win which also featured Fernando Torres’ final goal in a red shirt.
The Merseysiders finally managed to do the league double on Wolves in 2011/12, winning 2-1 at home and 3-0 away, but the team’s most recent meeting went the way of the Midlanders. That came in an FA Cup fourth-round clash at Anfield in January 2017 when goals from Richard Stearman and Andreas Weimann helped the then-Championship side to dump out a Liverpool team that, just three days previously, had been beaten by Southampton in the EFL Cup semi-finals, rounding off a dismal week for the Reds.
Last Molineux meeting
Wolves 0-3 Liverpool, 31 January 2012
Coincidentally, when Liverpool last went to Molineux almost seven years ago, they had just beaten Manchester United at Anfield, knocking their rivals out of the FA Cup prior to this midweek Premier League clash. Neither team had been in impressive form going into this game and Wolves would have been content to keep the Reds scoreless in the first half.
Liverpool eventually made the breakthrough on 51 minutes through Andy Carroll, who had signed for the club exactly one year previously, and Craig Bellamy soon doubled the lead, with Wayne Hennessey not covering himself in glory in the Wolves goal. Dirk Kuyt’s 50th Premier League goal wrapped up the points for the visitors and heightened the gloom around Molineux, with the home side booed off as they remained rooted to the bottom of the table. They would end the season in that position, with Liverpool ultimately limping to an eighth-place finish.
Despite not scoring last weekend, Mohamed Salah remains the Premier League’s joint top scorer with 10 goals. Sadio Mane is Liverpool’s next highest scorer on seven, while Xherdan Shaqiri’s match-winning brace against Manchester United took him to five in the league. Liverpool’s current tally of 37 is the joint second highest in the league, level with Arsenal and five fewer than Manchester City. They have the best defensive record in the top flight, conceding only seven thus far.
Raul Jimenez is Wolves’ leading marksman on five, two ahead of Ivan Cavaleiro (who has only made three starts) and Matt Doherty (nominally a right-back). Eight of their tally of 19 have come from Portuguese players, with no Englishman scoring for Nuno’s side in the Premier League so far this term.
Seven Wolves players have featured in all 17 of the Premier League matches this season. Four of those – Doherty, Willy Boly, Rui Patricio and former Liverpool player Conor Coady – have started every game.
Coady only played in two matches for Liverpool’s first team, starting the 1-0 Europa League defeat to Anzhi Makhachkala in November 2012 and making a very brief Premier League cameo as a late substitute against Fulham in a 3-1 win in May 2013.
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