Last time they met it was one of the shock results of the season – can history repeat itself at Anfield? We preview the game between Liverpool and Wolves, including our Opta pre-match prediction.

Liverpool vs Wolves: The Quick Hits

  • A third Premier League win in four for Liverpool is the latest prediction from the Opta supercomputer.
  • It will be the fourth time that Liverpool and Wolves have met in 2023, with both sides winning once and drawing the other..
  • This could be the game that Mohamed Salah ties Robbie Fowler’s club record?

Match Preview

Perhaps this is in honour of some of their city’s favourite sons, but it feels like things are starting to, slowly, come together for Liverpool in the Premier League.

Their goalless draw on the road against Crystal Palace made it three consecutive Premier League clean sheets for Jurgen Klopp’s side, the first time they have achieved the feat this season. More impressively, they have limited the opposition to just five shots on target in these three games and four of those came in the 2-0 victory against Newcastle United.

The trouble is they need to get back to scoring on a more consistent basis, having failed to net in four of their last six league games – a run that began with three non-scoring performances despite attempting 43 shots.

It really has a been a case of hello, goodbye with their opponents on Wednesday night in 2023 so far. Two FA Cup ties and a Premier League defeat at Molineux, of which we’ll have more on in just a second, there surely isn’t much that Klopp doesn’t know about Wolves.

Julen Lopetegui’s side are looking to complete a league double over the Reds for the first time since 1950-51, but the hosts have lost just one of their last 34 Premier League games at Anfield (W25 D8). Something is going to have to give if Wolverhampton Wanderers are going to be successful.

Previous Meeting

Wolves 3-0 Liverpool: 4 February 2023 (Premier League)

Wolves 3-0 Liverpool xG Shot Map

If Wolves get off to an as fast start as they managed on 4 February, then all bets are probably off.

A Joel Matip own-goal and a debut strike from Craig Dawson put them 2-0 in front after just 12 minutes, the earliest Liverpool found themselves behind by such a scoreline in a Premier League match since September 2014 against West Ham (7th minute).

Ruben Neves completed the rout which, although fairly level when it came to expected goals (2.03 v 1.96), saw Wolverhampton Wanderers bring an 11-game losing run against the Reds in the Premier League to a halt.

Wolves 3-0 Liverpool xG Race Chart

In fact, the three goals they scored that day were as many as they had managed across the losing run combined.  So, you’d believe that expectations for this match might be high, even though Wolves have lost more Premier League away games against Liverpool than any other side (seven, level with Man City).

Recent Form

Although they aren’t out of the relegation dogfight, Premier League survival certainly feels a lot more possible for Wolves since Lopetegui took over from Bruno Lage.

Despite a mega summer splash in the transfer market, he couldn’t advert a slide in form that saw them score just eight goals in their opening 15 matches of season, conceding 24 and recorded just 10 points as they sat rooted to the bottom of the table.

It proved to be a protracted pursuit of the former Sevilla boss, but it has proved dividends. With 14 points coming from his first nine games in charge (the same amount as Liverpool over the same time period) backed up by a shored-up defence that have shipped just nine times – they now find themselves three points out the drop zone.

Are we willing to give Liverpool a slight bit of pass for the weekend’s draw against Palace though? Undoubtedly shellshocked following their 5-2 capitulation against Real Madrid in the Champions League, they did create several opportunities to pick up the victory at Selhurst Park to the point they twice rattled the crossbar.

Palace also failed to register a shot on target in this game with the Reds remaining the only side yet to concede a goal from outside the box in the league this season. Considering they conceded a league-high share of 27% of their goals from distance last campaign, are they just proving easier to break down around their own area now?

Liverpool shots conceded locations 2022-2023

Either way, the Reds are just nine points off the top four and a potential return to the UEFA Champions League. And that 3-0 reversal earlier in the season is the only time Jurgen Klopp has dropped points against Wolves in the competition. Adding to that tally here will only boost their hopes of a successive run-in.

Players to Watch

Liverpool – Darwin Nunez

An aggravated shoulder saw him miss out on the squad for the game against Crystal Palace and Nunez is going to need to come through a late fitness test if he’s going to take to the field against Wolves.

It has been an on-and-off start to life at Anfield for the Uruguayan. His performance against Real Madrid, where he reportedly sustained an additional knock to the one from the Newcastle game, was one of the few bright sparks on an otherwise dreary night.

For a man who’s been associated with chaos at Anfield, Nunez has proven himself invaluable on the field for the Reds. Amongst players in the Premier League to have played more than 1035 minutes, he finds himself in elite company when it comes to attacking sequence involvement and even enjoys a better xG per 90 (0.73) than Erling Haaland (0.72). There’s just a slight difference in the final output though.

Premier League Attacking Sequences Involvements

Wolves – Pablo Sarabia

Pablo Sarabia wasn’t one of Bruno Lage’s summer splashes. But it could have been a very different outcome to the start of Wolves’ season if he had of been, especially after an impressive season for Sporting CP in 2021-2022, on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.

Pablo Sarabia Sporting CP xG shot map for 2022-2023 season

Since making his Premier League debut on 22 January, the Spaniard has created more chances (three), had more shots on target (three) and played more passes into the box (29) than any other Wolves player. In the other words, he likes to get on the ball and make positive contributions to a side seemingly on the up.

Fantasy football fans would have been wise to pick him up ahead of this double gameweek for the side. Those that did were handsomely rewarded after he netted first goal for the club in their 1-1 draw at Fulham last time out. They’ll need many more from him to fully pull away from the battle at the bottom of the table though.

Liverpool vs Wolves Prediction

Liverpool vs Wolves Prediction

The Opta supercomputer is predicting that Liverpool’s return to domestic form will continue, being given a 61.5% chance of victory against Wolves at Anfield.

That would make it 19 victories in their last 21 home league games against Wolves and it could be a double reason for Mohamed Salah to celebrate. He’s scored in his last two home league games against Wolves and is just two away from equalling Robbie Fowler’s record of being the club’s highest scorer in the competition (128).

The Reds have won each of their last eight midweeks Premier League games, including both so far this season, whilst Wolves have won just once in their last 17 such games away from the home in the Premier League.

The draw against Crystal Palace has proved potentially critical to Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the top four, with the Opta supercomputer’s season-long prediction now making Tottenham Hotspur favourites to pip them to the post following the 2-0 victory over Chelsea.  Liverpool are expected to leapfrog above Newcastle United and Fulham in the final table though, as well as seeing off the threat of Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford.

Wolverhampton Wanderers, on the other hand, now only have a 11.3% chance of being relegated with the likes of Southampton, Bournemouth, Everton, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest more likely to face the dreaded drop than Wolves.

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