By Christopher Boulay
After defeating Brighton in Wednesday’s League Cup fixture, Liverpool looks to improve its Premier League exploits and push the 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Tottenham further back in the memory when they face Wolverhampton Wolves Saturday.
Mick McCarthy’s side had an impressive start to the season before being humbled by Queen’s Park Rangers, 3-0, last weekend. The club began the healing process by putting five past a poor Millwall side mid-week during the League Cup, and it will be interesting to see how they start off against what will be an angry and hungry Liverpool.
The Reds made some changes against Brighton and Hove Albion that really paid off. Craig Bellamy looks like he never left, and got a nice goal as well as a nearly immaculate free kick that rattled off of the bar. Kenny Dalglish is typically difficult to gauge on who he will start, but Bellamy earned it based on his play against the Seagulls. Andy Carroll will likely ride the pine once more, but if there needs to be some late match heroics, he could get a call into the squad.
Dirk Kuyt’s effort in the match showed that he may still be the answer on the wing until Jordan Henderson gets some more experience, so expect him in the lineup once more. Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel have returned from injury, so this certainly helps with the depth and quality of the squad, overall. Sebastian Coates may earn another start. He wasn’t spectacular against Brighton, but Dalglish will be looking to get him more time, especially with Daniel Agger’s unfortunate rib injury. This is dependent on whether or not Carragher will continue on, as his lack of pace has shown through so far in this campaign.
It would be quite the surprise if Gerrard got a start, as Dalglish would certainly risk him in doing so. After his recent calls to the FA about not rushing him back to international duty, it seems unlikely he will be anywhere but off of the bench. It may still be another match or two before he gets the nod, and it may still be a while before he plays a full 90. Dalglish will need to not mismanage this, as the captain’s injury record is well documented.
McCarthy’s sides are typically difficult to play against, but they also lack a significant amount of creativity and variation. He mentioned recently that he may have to switch up his go-to 4-4-2 formation, but with a real lack of options, Wolves may be typical. There will likely not be many changes to the side that was hammered by QPR.
If Liverpool wants to get back on track, it will be necessary to take control quickly. Wolves may not be the most intimidating of sides, as they do concede often, but Kevin Doyle is always a problem up front and could give a still-weak Liverpool back line a world of issues.
That being said, this is quite the attractive fixture for the Reds if the club want a quick three points. With the Kop behind them, it makes it even more of a must-win.
Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers
When: Saturday, September 24 1500 BST/1000 ET
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Table: Liverpool 8th (7 points), Wolves 10th (7 points)
Last Premier League Match: Liverpool 0-4 Tottenham, Wolves 0-3 QPR
Projected Wolves Starting 11 (4-4-2)
DEF: Johnson, Ward, Stearman, Elokobi
MF: Hunt, Henry, Kightly, Berra
FW: Doyle, O’Hara
Bench: De Vries, Foley, Jarvis, Hammill, Miljias, Guedioura, Vokes
Projected Liverpool Starting 11 (4-4-1-1)
DEF: Kelly, Skrtel, Coates, Jose Enrique
MF: Kuyt, Adam, Lucas, Kuyt
FW: Suarez, Bellamy
Bench: Doni, Carragher, Robinson, Maxi, Henderson, Gerrard, Carroll