Although they put together a comeback for the ages in the Champions League semifinal against Barcelona it’s somewhat difficult to not feel sorry for Liverpool. It must sting to realize that they’ll likely fall short of the English Premier League title that has eluded them since 1990 (which actually predates the 1992 debut of the Premier League) despite losing just one game in league play this season. If The Reds are feeling sorry for themselves they sure aren’t showing it. Ditto for their supporters and every expectation is for a tremendous outpouring of enthusiasm as they play their final EPL game of the season against Wolverhampton at Anfield on Sunday.
Simply put, Liverpool realizes that the Premier League championship is out of their hands and sure sound focused on this game and not the goings on in Brighton. Aside from talk that they would like to get up early to put ‘pressure’ on Manchester City during their game (although Pep Guardiola says he won’t be paying attention to it) it’s business as usual. Given the quality of Liverpool’s play this season ‘business as usual’ should get the job done here. If Liverpool can take all three points in this game they can finish the season content in the knowledge that they fought to the end and did everything they could.
As far as any tangible achievement or their spot in the EPL table it looks as if Wolves are just playing out the string here. They’ve clinched 7th place in the Premiership and that was the goal of manager Nuno Espirito Santo–to finish just below the ‘big six’ teams (Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United). They’ve accomplished this and might even get a Europa League spot out of the deal if Manchester City can beat Watford for the FA Cup next weekend. The fact that Wolverhampton is on the road without much to play for makes it difficult to handicap this game. Will they try to play ‘spoiler’ or will they give playing time to reserves?
By any metric, Liverpool has had an amazing season not only in Champions League play but at home. They enter this game 13 points up on third place Chelsea–that margin underscores just how good the top two teams have been this year. Liverpool is undefeated at Anfield this season (16-2-0) and they’ve been matching Manchester City point for point down the stretch. They’ve won 11 of 12 in all competitions including 7 straight at home. They’ve also been scoring in abundance–the past 7 home wins have seen 2 or more goals scored in each with 4 seeing a minimum of three goals scored.
It would help to have more clarity on Wolverhampton’s mindset for this game but they definitely have the ability to turn in a strong performance here. Tricky prices on this game, however, but one bet looks like a value.