Reds have spring in their step


Fabinho holding the Player of the Match trophy after Liverpool’s Champions League win over Leipzig. The Brazilian’s solid showing bodes well for the Reds as they look to bounce back from a slump in domestic form. — AP

WILL the red Liverbird survive a pack of wolves in its den?

Anything is possible following Liverpool’s 2-0 win over RB Leipzig and advance into the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

While the Merseyside club’s exploits in Europe were great, their performance in the Premier League remains to be seen.

Many teams are aware that Liverpool are still vulnerable following the damaging run of results at home and are just licking their lips waiting to have a go at the soon-to-be former league champions.

Wolves, despite not having the best of seasons, are still a dangerous team that can inflict more damage to the Reds.

It is indeed hopeful that the win over the German club in midweek can now reignite Juergen Klopp’s team to continue putting in some good performances and make a late surge up the table.

Having lost the voice of the group in captain Jordan Henderson through injury, either vice-captains James Milner or Georginio Wijnaldum must be more vocal and carry on barking out orders to keep the team going.

Despite being uncertain about his future, Wijnaldum has been reliable and consistent. The Dutch international should continue to make his presence felt in the squad that had been ravaged by injury.

Thiago Alcantara, who did well in the win over Leipzig, should also be starting against Wolves. If not him, then Naby Keita, back from injury, should be given the go-ahead to help in attack. The diminutive Guinean was a bright spark during the Fulham game with his runs and willingness to take on opposing players.

A fit-again Fabinho has also shown why Liverpool have missed his qualities in midfield as he bossed the middle of the park at the Puskas Arena in midweek.

The Brazilian’s presence has brought back calm and balance to Liverpool’s midfield.

With his presence in midfield, he provides cover for the centre backs, breaking down opponents’ attacks and providing breakthrough passes for the forwards.

Klopp will be expected to retain the same back four as during the Leipzig game, with the centre back pairing of Ozan Kabak as well as Nathaniel Phillips who has been producing some good displays when fielded.

Despite his lack of pace, the 23-year-old Englishman is good in the air and can deal with strong opponents. Kabak, a last-minute loan signing from Schalke 04 last month, is starting to settle in with his teammates.

Wolves have two pacy wingers in Pedro Neto and Adama Traore and both can torture defenders.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who received a bit of criticism of late, will need to be at his best when coming up against them.

In the front, it is good to see Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane back among the goals. Both were guilty of missing many chances in the Leipzig match, so getting a goal each would be good for their confidence.

Diogo Jota, who had a prolific start prior to his injury in December, is also expected to keep up in the starting line-up against his former club, pending the availability of Roberto Firmino, who had a minor knock.

With Liverpool’s current form, it is pointless to base this fixture on any head-to-head statistics.

It will very much be an open game with the side that scores first most likely to claim full points.

There is no other way for Liverpool but to continue fighting on with all they have and salvaging whatever is left of the season.

As it stands, it is still mathematically possible to get that last Champions League spot despite being seven points off fourth-place Chelsea.

The team needs to know that they cannot put all their hopes on qualifying for the Champions League next season by winning the trophy.

With 10 league games to go, it will be tough but it is not impossible to get all 30 points.

The players will need to treat all their remaining games as cup finals, starting at the Molineux on Monday.

It should be a feisty game that the Reds will dominate and hopefully secure full points.

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