Soccer

Why Liverpool must not lose to Wolves and keep European hopes alive

Why Liverpool cannot afford to lose AGAIN tonight: With six defeats from the last seven, a three-week break looming and a daunting fixture run ahead, a capitulation against Wolves could see the rot spread wildly

  • Liverpool face Wolves at Molineux on Monday night knowing victory is crucial 
  • Reds can make up ground after Everton, Tottenham and Chelsea dropped points 
  • Since Wolves returned to the top flight they have not beaten Liverpool 
  • Sportsmail assesses the importance of a win ahead of a three-week break 

It seems strange to refer to a specific game as make-or-break when a team is in a period of freefall, with one poor result blending into another.

For Liverpool, however, tonight’s clash against Wolves really does rest on a knife edge.

Jurgen Klopp’s battered and bruised Reds have been through the ringer in recent weeks, seeing a title defence collapse and now, seemingly, a top-four finish hardly appearing on the horizon.

The showdown with Wolves at Molineux represents a chance of sorts to reset the system and record a desperately-needed victory ahead of a three-week break.

Jurgen Klopp knows his side must come out on top against Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves

Liverpool have lost six of their last seven leagues game and desperately need to stop the rot

Something about Liverpool on domestic duties recently has seen a complete malaise fall over Klopp’s squad, with one defeat careering into another.

It was unfathomable that a team so good last season could embark on a run like this, though a devastating set of injuries throughout the starting XI has clearly had a much greater psychological impact that anybody could have imaged.

Now, entering a fixture off the back of each of their closest rivals each dropping points, Liverpool must put down a marker and truly begin to stop the rot. Sportsmail took a closer look at the developing situation… 

Klopp was able to breathe a sigh of relief recently on the touchline inside Budapest’s Puskas Arena, after Liverpool brushed aside Leipzig with another 2-0 Champions League victory to progress with an impressive 4-0 aggregate scoreline.

The victory highlighted something important for Liverpool, making it clear that big performances can still be summoned once the mindset is correct.

Free of the Premier League shackles, Liverpool headed to Hungary and played openly while making light work of a team tipped to push the Bundesliga title race all the way this season.

A recent home defeat to strugglers Fulham was one the lowest points of Liverpool’s season

It served as a much needed mindset, yet now most certainly has to be built upon if the Reds are to have any hope of returning to European competition next season. 

Against Leizpig Liverpool played without the fear of incurring yet another defeat and adding to an ever more concerning statistic.

Against the Germans Klopp showed his hand and tweaked his strategy to make the gamble many fans had been crying out for.

Brazilian general Fabinho returned to the heart of midfield and Liverpool appeared a much more balanced side as a result.

Thiago Alcantara was afforded more time on the ball to make things happen, while in defence the young Nat Phillips benefited hugely from the additional cover of Fabinho ahead of him – picking up the man-of-the-match award as a result.

This appeared to be the reset Liverpool desperately needed, and now this must transfer into a Premier League run. Particularly as the weekend’s results fell kindly in their favour.

Victory over RB Leipzig in Budapest has the potential to breathe some confidence into the side

Faltering rivals

The league table is tighter than it has been in many years, and fortunately for Liverpool the chasing pack all stumbled last weekend.

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea still remain undefeated under his command, though a goalless stalemate against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds both halted their momentum and saw two crucial points missed out on.

Chelsea were held to a goalless stalemate by Leeds United, which bodes well for Liverpool

LIVERPOOL FIXTURES

Wolves (A) – Monday, March 15

Arsenal (A) – Saturday, April 3

Aston Villa (H) –  Saturday, April 10

Leeds United (A) – Saturday, April 17

Newcastle (H) –  Saturday, April 24

Man United (A) –  Saturday, May 1

Things were much worse on the blue half of Merseyside, however, as Carlo Ancelotti’s high-flying Everton had their wings clipped by Burnley.

Against the odds the Toffees put in a lacklustre performance against their visitors, and paid the ultimate price.

This, coupled with Tottenham’s capitulation in the north London derby, bodes particularly well for Liverpool.

Teams around the Reds had threatened to pull clear while the Anfield horror show has continued to unfold, but now Klopp’s men have a glimmer of hope.

Victory at Molineux will see Liverpool jump up to joint sixth alongside-city rivals Everton on 46 points, albeit having played a game more.

Only a five-point margin would then separate Liverpool and the top four, meaning a hope of Champions League football would very much exist if the reigning champions can somehow rediscover their groove. 

High-flying Everton came unstuck against Burnley and dropped priceless points at home

Tough times ahead

Winning any game of football prior to a lengthy break is always desirable, yet for Liverpool right now it is a necessity. 

Time away from the top flight will allow Klopp to regroup and get into the minds of his players once again – though this will be a considerably more difficult task should it arrive on the back of yet another defeat.

Liverpool need to be in the right head space going forward, because the fixtures on the horizon aren’t pretty.

On the horizon Liverpool face an Aston Villa side who humiliated them earlier in the season

April 3 sees the Reds make the long trip to London to lock horns with Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, before then facing a Villa side who so painfully humiliated them earlier in the season with a 7-2 mauling.

The matches then come thick and fast, with a trip to Elland Road arriving just seven days later. Liverpool faced the newly-promoted Leeds on the opening day of the season, and felt the brunt of Bielsa’s philosophy as a seven-goal thriller saw Klopp’s full strength side escape with a 4-3 win.

It’s easy to see why – if Liverpool do not cobble together some form of momentum they could get swept away entirely.

Things may look bad right now for Klopp’s title winners, but it’s important to note that things could still get a whole lot worse.

A tough run of fixtures culminates in a meeting with bitter rivals Manchester United on May 1

Clashes against Newcastle and bitter rivals Manchester United follow on from Leeds, taking Liverpool into May. 

By this point, their season could have a whole new complexion, for better or for worse.  

Good omens

Since their return to the top flight in 2017, Wolves have regularly stood as tricky opponents for most of the Premier League.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side has been carefully crafted and heavily invested upon, which in turn has seen Wolves establish themselves as a bonafide top-tier team, and one capable of challenging for the European places.

For Klopp and Liverpool, however, they have always appeared to have the number of their opponents in gold.  

Of the last four meetings in the Premier League, Liverpool have won them all. Nine goals in total, with just two conceded. 

The last four matches have seen Liverpool put on a dominant show each time, with this same fixture earlier in the season ending 4-0 in favour of the Merseysiders.

Earlier in the season Liverpool pulled off an emphatic 4-0 win over Nuno Espirito Santo’s men

Over a decade has passed since Wolves last defeated Liverpool in the Premier League, when Mick McCarthy’s side arrived at Anfield during the dark days of the brief Roy Hodgson era.

A solo Stephen Ward goal was enough to snatch victory, yet ever since the Reds have always had the upper hand.

Tonight, as the two teams appear to do battle once more, Liverpool will be hoping for more of the same.

With victory over Leipzig still fresh in the mind, and with a sharp Diogo Jota set to lead the line against his former club, perhaps the tide is finally set to turn.

Should Liverpool again stumble, however, the abyss could appear darker than ever before. 





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