Preview: Wolverhampton Wanders vs Liverpool
Fresh from humiliating the Red Devils, the Reds will be on the road to take on Wolverhampton Wanders. Their opponents would definitely offer much more of a fight, with them determine to stay in the league. The following is a preview for Friday night’s game.
Clyne Or Milner?
Liverpool’s forgotten man, Nathaniel Clyne had a difficult year or so with numerous injuries ruling him out. The Englishman was helpless as he watched Gomez and then Alexander-Arnold become Klopp’s 1st choice right-back. With Milner also being an alternative for right-back, it looked nearly impossible for Clyne to find a way back into the first team.
However, the impossible happened when both Trent and Milner were ruled out of the United clash. With Gomez still recuperating from a long term injury, the former Southampton man suddenly found himself trust into the starting line up.
Making just his second competitive start of the season, there were naturally concerns that Clyne wasn’t ready for a game of such magnitude. Those concerns were duly brushed aside as Clyne put in a great shift. His 4 tackles was the highest among the Liverpool team, not to mention winning 7 out of 9 duels. Clyne was also Liverpool’s most accurate passer, with 92% finding the intended target. Those are impressive numbers, even if the Red Devils weren’t the most aggressive of opponents.
With Trent still ruled out of Friday’s game, coupled with Milner just recovering, Liverpool’s No. 2 should be confident of making a second consecutive start. Wolves would provide much stiffer opposition however, and Clyne will need another solid performance to shut out the opponents.
Seventh in the league, Wolverhampton Wanderers are having a pretty good season so far. Among several reasons is the fact that their No. 9 is having the form of his life so far. 5 goals and 4 assists in 17 appearances is a decent return for a striker, especially so for one that’s playing for mid-table club.
Directly responsible for nearly half of Wolves goals so far, Jimenez is without a doubt their main threat. Preventing him from shooting would be a good first step, since he averages 3.1 shots per game. But even if Liverpool’s defenders shut him out, Jimenez is still effective by dropping deep to make play happen. His two outings as an attacking central midfielder is testament to that, which is why the Red’s midfielders will have to keep tabs on him at all times.
For a side who’ve only conceded 7 league goals thus far, Liverpool should be confident of achieving another shut out. However, they’ll have to work together as a defensive unit to achieve that. For Jimenez and co will punish any lapse in concentration on the Red’s part.
Taking Full Advantage
Heading into the busy Christmas schedule, Liverpool hold a slender one point lead over their rivals Manchester City. However, it’s the Reds who’ll be kicking off first, with City playing a day later on Saturday. This gives Liverpool a chance to open up a 4 point gap, albeit temporarily pending Saturday’s results.
However, it’s always nice to be the pace setters, concentrating on our football instead of looking at how our rivals are doing. Liverpool have responded well in their late kick-off against Manchester United, it’s now time to see how Manchester City fair.
Apart from upping the pressure, the Reds also have the luxury of having 4 days to prepare for Wolverhampton. City on the other hand had to contend with a midweek league cup fixture against Leceister City. That game eventually ended in extra time, with City prevailing on penalties. That meant that the Citizens had even less time to recharge for their league game against Crystal Palace.
So even if Guardiola rotates his side, fatigue will definitely play a crucial part in this crunch period. Having 312 hours to complete the festive fixtures, compared to City’s 293 hours (almost a day less), Klopp’s men are no doubt fresher than their rivals. They need to make that freshness count in order to keep pace, or even pull away from their nearest title challengers.