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Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park at the weekend
Wolverhampton Wanderers have improved their position in the relegation battle
Liverpool cannot afford to drop points in games like this as they eye a top-four finish
The odds for Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers have been taken from the DraftKings sportsbook, which is offering a deposit bonus up to $1000 right now.
Unfortunately for neutrals, goals could be few and far between in this one.
Back under 2.5 goals when Liverpool host Wolverhampton Wanderers in this rearranged Premier League fixture on Wednesday. (+115)
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It is a mark of how far Liverpool have fallen that a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday was seen as a decent result. That game came just a few days after Jurgen Klopp’s side suffered a 5-2 home thrashing by Real Madrid which has left them on the verge of elimination in the Champions League.
In that context, then, avoiding defeat at Selhurst Park was a step forward. In terms of the race for the top four, though, this was a case of two points dropped rather than one point gained. Against opponents who have not won a game in any competition this calendar year, Liverpool turned in a disappointing display.
Both teams had chances to emerge victorious, but on balance, Palace posed the greater threat. Liverpool looked shaky at times - perhaps a consequence of the loss of confidence that followed the defeat by Madrid - and they were unable to sustain attacks.
Liverpool are still in the top-four race in large part because they have played fewer matches than most of the teams around them.
That is why Wednesday’s encounter is so important. Currently seventh in the standings, they are seven points behind Tottenham Hotspur in the final Champions League spot, although the Reds have two games in hand on Antonio Conte’s charges.
Finishing in the top four would at least salvage something from this season. Liverpool were in effect out of the Premier League title race in the first couple of months of the campaign, while they are now on the way out of the Champions League having already been knocked out of the FA Cup and the EFL Cup.
In order to avoid having nothing to play for in the final few weeks of the season, Klopp’s team must continue applying pressure to the likes of Tottenham and Newcastle United above them.
It is easy to forget now, but for a brief time last season, Wolves were among the contenders for the top four. After a 2-1 victory over Leicester City around 12 months ago, Bruno Lage’s side were six points behind the Champions League places with two games in hand on fourth-placed Manchester United.
In the end, though, Wolves were unable to sustain the form that had got them in that position. They won only three of their last 14 fixtures and finished 10th. Lage was unable to turn things around in the early part of the current campaign; when he was sacked at the start of October, Wolves were 18th.
After Steve Davis’ underwhelming stint as caretaker boss, the club appointed former Real Madrid and Spain manager Julen Lopetegui just before World Cup 2022.
He has done an excellent job of making Wolves harder to beat. Having inherited a team that was bottom of the division, the Spaniard has lifted them up to 15th. Wolves are averaging 1.56 points per game under Lopetegui; the equivalent figure from before he took charge was 0.67.
There is still plenty of work to be done, however. Wolves are only three points clear of the relegation zone. Only Everton (17) have scored fewer goals than their 18. And Wolves have won just one game against a team currently in the top half of the table.
That, in fairness, was a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Liverpool earlier this month. If Wolves can replicate that performance at Anfield, they could well do the double over the Reds for the first time since 1950.
Wolves are not particularly productive in attack, but their defense has at least been relatively solid this term. They have conceded a total of 33 goals, which is fewer than Champions League-chasing Tottenham.
Their matches are often low-scoring with an average of 2.13 goals per match. More than 58 percent of their games this season have featured two goals or fewer, which is why under 2.5 looks like an astute selection on Wednesday.
Liverpool are still far from their best in an attacking sense. The return to full fitness of Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino at least gives Klopp plenty of options alongside Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, and Cody Gakpo, the trio that has started together most often in 2023.
But as we saw against Palace at the weekend, Liverpool’s frontline is not firing on all cylinders. They should fare better at Anfield than at Selhurst Park, but if Wolves can defend with discipline and diligence this will not be a straightforward assignment for Klopp’s side.
Liverpool must take this opportunity to make up some ground on the teams above them in the table, but we should not expect a free-flowing, exhilarating, end-to-end encounter. Under 2.5 goals is the way to go.
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Teams: Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Location: Anfield, Liverpool, England
Date and Time: Mar. 1, 2023, 3 p.m. EST
How to Watch: Peacock Premium
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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