Victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Friday night will ensure Liverpool stay unbeaten and top of the Premier League for Christmas.
And the Reds couldn’t have asked for a better early present from Santa than their 3-1 hammering of Bitte rivals Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday, a result which saw the Old Trafford club dispense with the services of manager Jose Mourinho.
Even given their ambitious spending over the last 12 months, Liverpool are exceeding even their loftiest expectations, leading the title race ahead of champions Manchester City, yet to taste defeat in the league and safely through to the last 16 of the Champions League.
There is no time to stop and reflect on another year of profound progress under Jurgen Klopp just yet, though, with promoted Wolves set to present a tricky challenge.
Here are our three betting tips for the match.
Reds defence breached
Liverpool boast the best defensive record in the Premier League at present, with just seven goals conceded in 17 games.
However, Wolves, with their rapid count-attacking style, have the tools to undo the Reds’ stubborn backline. The Black Country side have faced the other five members of the top six already this season and have scored at least once every time.
Indeed, they were the first team to stop Manchester City winning this term, earning a 1-1 home draw with Pep Guardiola’s men, and they took a point of both Arsenal and Manchester United and beat Chelsea 2-1. The only sop-six side to beat Wolves this season is Tottenham Hotspur, and even then Nuno Espirito Santo’s men scored twice.
Wolves struggle most when they are forced to control possession, when opponents sit deep against them. They are much more comfortable absorbing pressure and striking on the break than they are methodically deconstructing a rigid, defensive side.
Although they will be the away side, Liverpool’s superior quality will see them control the ball for much of the game, meaning Wolves will take their turn to sit back and aim to frustrate.
Unlocking such sides requires a degree of subtlety and invention, a touch of deftness and nous rather than a battering ram of power and pace.
For that reason, Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino could hold the key to victory for Klopp’s table-toppers. The former Hoffenheim star hasn’t been as prolific of late, but back him to get his fifth league goal of the season.
Liverpool to win
Now that they’re on top, Liverpool mist show extra mettle and determination to stay there. Manchester City will continue to rack up points to keep the pressure up, so it is games like the trip to Wolves that will determine just how ready the Reds are to end their long wait for a top-flight title.
But they have the quality and confidence to overcome any challenge at present. Wolves won’t be an easy team to beat on home turf, and Liverpool might have to scrap to get the desired result, but all signs point to the Reds prevailing.
*Odds subject to change
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by Tom Bodell