Wolves host Liverpool at Molineux on Friday Night Football
Tuesday 21 April 2020 10:16, UK
Liverpool will be the favourites when they face Wolves at Molineux on Friday Night Football but they will be taking on the team that has picked up more points against the top six than anyone outside that group. Could the home side cause another upset?
Liverpool go to Molineux on Friday evening top of the Premier League and unbeaten. Manchester City might yet stop them from storming to the title this season but when it comes to stopping them over 90 minutes, only Chelsea, Arsenal, and the champions have been able to even hold Jurgen Klopp's team to a share of the points.
And so, Wolves will be big underdogs. But their efforts against the rest of the top six this season offers some hope to supporters in Wolverhampton - and on the blue side of Manchester. In their five matches against the Premier League's strongest sides, Nuno Espirito Santo's newly-promoted team has been beaten only once.
That was at home to Tottenham and even then there was a sense that Wolves were beaten by the clock, pushing Spurs hard in the closing stages of a 3-2 defeat in which they came back from three goals behind. Chelsea were beaten at Molineux, Manchester United were held at Old Trafford, while City and Arsenal required late equalisers to earn 1-1 draws.
Wolves' record compares favourably to the other 13 teams trying to get something against the top six. They are the only one of those teams to have scored as many goals as they have conceded in these matches and it's made a difference to the table. Everton, the team one place below Wolves in the table, have picked up only one point from their five matches.
Curiously, Nuno's problems have come against supposedly weaker opposition. His Wolves side have lost at home to Watford and Huddersfield and were also beaten at Brighton and Cardiff. The Portuguese boss was quizzed on the reasons for the contrast in his press conference after the 2-1 win over Chelsea and was at a loss to explain it.
"If [only] I had the answer to that," said Nuno. "From my point of view, first let's put to one side things that don't mean anything. Extra motivation? No. The motivation is non-negotiable. The hard work is non-negotiable. The standards are non-negotiable. If you tell me that our standards are different from opponent, it isn't.
"But if I had the answer… I don't know. It's a game and when it's a game you cannot anticipate anything. You prepare the same way, you approach the game the same way no matter the opponent, you spend the same amount of time and then you perform well or you do not perform well, but it does not depend on the opponent."
Perhaps there is a tactical explanation in that Wolves have shown that they can limit the opposition's opportunities while causing plenty of problems of their own on the counter-attack. The challenge of shutting out Mohamed Salah and the rest will be arguably the trickiest test yet but for Wolves - and for Manchester City - there is at least some hope.