PREVIEW | Liverpool v Wolves: Keïta and Alexander-Arnold in contention as fans finally return to Anfield

JAMES NOBLE looks ahead to what we can expect to see in Sunday evenings Premier League encounter against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield.

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Anfield will at last be able to welcome up to 2,000 supporters on Sunday evening, when Jürgen Klopp’s side will be aiming to back up Tuesday night’s Champions League victory over Ajax with three points against Nuno Espírito Santo’s increasingly unpredictable Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Context

The tenth-placed West Midlander’s have employed a back four in their last two outings – a 1-1 home draw with Southampton and 2-1 victory at Arsenal – after consistently playing with a back three in recent seasons.Whether this represents the start of a long-term change of system, or a temporary adaptation to opponents or personnel issues, is not yet completely clear. 

The fractured skull sustained by Raúl Jiménez in that harrowing incident at the Emirates Stadium last Sunday, means the Molineux side will be without one of the Premier League’s standout strikers for a spell and presents further selection questions. 


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Currently sat on 17 points, a win could lift them to as high as fourth by the end of this weekend’s action – which would put them just a point behind the Reds.  

Liverpool, meanwhile, sit third at the start of Sunday – level on points with second-placed Spurs, who welcome Arsenal earlier on Sunday and a point behind leaders Chelsea, who defeated Leeds on Saturday night. 

The tightness of the table – and the opportunities that presents – is one of several extra sources of intrigue going into this one.

Team news

Caoimhín Kelleher looks a good bet to start again in goal after his excellent showing against the Dutch side in midweek, while Alisson Becker is yet to recover from the hamstring issue which kept him out on Tuesday. Klopp’s comments in his Friday pre-match press conference also hinted at another opportunity for the Irishman. 

Positive fitness news late in the week arrived in the form of Alexander-Arnold and Keïta returning to training after recovering from their respective calf and hamstring issues. According to Klopp, there’s a reasonable chance they could feature in Sunday’s squad. 

Elsewhere, Nat Phillips is again an option at centre-back after being ineligible in the Champions League. Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk are continuing their rehabilitation from their knee injuries. Thiago Alcântara remains “A few weeks,” away – as Klopp explained on Monday ahead of Ajax. James Milner is in the process of recovering from the hamstring injury sustained last weekend, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is edging closer to completing his own rehab. 

For Wolves, Jiménez will inevitably be out for a while but Nuno said on Friday that he was “Doing well,” after he underwent surgery in hospital. Centre-back Romain Saïss looks set to be back in contention after a period of self-isolation, following a positive test, whilst left wing-back Jonny Otto is a long-term absentee after he damaged knee ligaments in the Europa League knockout stages in August.

Likely lineups

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Liverpool (4-3-3):

62. Caoimhin Kelleher; 76. Neco Williams, 32. Joël Matip, 3. Fabinho, 26. Andrew Robertson; 17. Curtis Jones, 14. Jordan Henderson (C), 5. Georginio Wijnaldum; 11. Mohamed Salah, 20. Diogo Jota, 10. Sadio Mane

Substitutes:

8. Naby Keïta, 9. Roberto Firmino, 13. Adrián (GK), 18. Takumi Minamino, 21. Konstantinos Tsimikas, 47. Nathaniel Phillips, 66. Trent Alexander-Arnold

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-2-3-1):

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11. Rui Patrício; 22. Nélson Semedo, 15. Willy Boly, 16. Conor Coady (C), 5. Fernando Marçal; 32. Leander Dendoncker, 8. Rúben Neves; 37. Adama Traoré, 10. Daniel Podence, 7. Pedro Neto; 17. Fábio Silva

Substitutes:

2. Ki-Jana Hoever, 3. Rayan Aït Nouri, 20. Vítor Ferreira, 21. John Ruddy (GK), 28. João Moutinho, 49. Max Kilman, 54. Owen Otasowie

This is set to be an intriguing encounter between two sides who have had great battles over the last couple of seasons. If this fixture can live up to those games, then we will be in for a real treat Sunday tea time.

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