Liverpool travel to Molineux for the dreaded early kick off this Saturday, as they attempt to keep alive an unbeaten start to the Premier League season.
The international break saw the Reds’ momentum halted, with Jurgen Klopp’s side on a run of three consecutive wins following that opening day draw at Chelsea.
On paper, a return to domestic action with a trip to Wolves is about as comfortable a way to ease back into action as it gets, with Gary O’Neil’s side losing three of their first four in 2023/24.
However, there are banana skin undertones about this one.
Perhaps the nadir of Liverpool’s 2022/23 campaign came with a 3-0 humbling at Wolves back in February and, while things look quite different for both sides seven months on, there are reasons to be cautious.
READ MORE: Liverpool have chance to prove how far they’ve come with return to Wolves
The Reds’ track record in 12:30 kick offs last season reads: played six, drew three, lost three, won zero, with Klopp a famous hater of lunch-time football.
Liverpool also face a mini-selection crisis with several defenders potentially unavailable, while late travel back for the South American cohort post World Cup qualifiers makes preparations tricky.
With all that in mind, here’s a look at how Liverpool could line up this Saturday.
Defensive depth tested
Trent Alexander-Arnold, ProShots
As with the previous outing against Aston Villa, Klopp will not be spoiled for choice for options at the back.
Captain Virgil van Dijk will serve the second of his extended two-match ban, while Ibrahima Konate remains a doubt – having pulled out of France duty this international break with a hamstring issue.
On top of that Trent Alexander-Arnold is also only a ‘maybe’ after missing England’s fixture with his own hamstring strain. His understudy Conor Bradley remains out until at least November with a stress fracture in his back.
Joe Gomez will surely start the match, but whether he does so centrally or on the right depends on Alexander-Arnold’s recovery.
Joel Matip and Jarell Quansah are Liverpool’s other available centre backs, with the latter possibly in line for his first senior start, having made cameos off the bench in the last two games.
Andy Robertson will continue his role on the left, barring any late issues this week.
Alisson Becker was left out of Brazil’s second international fixture in the week and is expected to start in goal as usual.
READ MORE: Wolves vs Liverpool – Match Preview
Changes in midfield?
While the defence is being tested, the Reds are nearing a full complement in midfield.
Stefan Bajcetic played his first minutes of 2023/24 in his debut for Spain Under-21s, leaving only Thiago in the treatment room.
Alexis Mac Allister, however, may well start on the bench this Saturday, having played in Argentina’s 3-0 win in Bolivia on Tuesday.
Wataru Endo could be in line for only his second start, after impressing for Japan in their wins over Germany and Turkey, while Dominik Szoboszlai has been one of the Reds’ performers of the season so far and likely one of the first names on the teamsheet.
Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch are in line to fight for the left-sided berth in Liverpool’s midfield three, with the Dutchman still waiting to make his debut, having signed too late to take part in the win over Villa.
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Doubts in attack
KARLSRUHE, GERMANY – Wednesday, July 19, 2023: Liverpool’s Diogo Jota during a pre-season friendly match between Karlsruher SC and Liverpool FC at the Wildparkstadion. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)
Like with Mac Allister, Darwin Nuñez and Luis Diaz’s South American exploits midweek are far from ideal from Klopp’s perspective, given the early Saturday kick-off leaves precious little recovery and training time before heading to the West Midlands.
There are also some fears over the Uruguayan’s fitness after coach Marcelo Bielsa revealed Liverpool’s number nine was subbed due to ‘muscular problems’ in the defeat to Ecuador.
Diogo Jota is in line for a start and scored twice in Portugal’s 9-0 win over Luxembourg on Monday.
Despite playing the full 90 of Egypt’s friendly defeat to Tunisia on Tuesday, Mohamed Salah is a lock for his usual role on the right.
Meanwhile, Cody Gakpo – who is still looking for his first Liverpool goal of the season – could return to the central of the attack, after being dropped to the bench for the win over Villa.
The versatile Dutchman has even featured in a midfield three for the Reds this season, but shone for the Netherlands on the left wing, scoring in wins over Greece and Ireland.
READ MORE: What is Cody Gakpo’s best position – and do Liverpool even need to know?
PREDICTED LIVERPOOL STARTING XI TO FACE WOLVES
(4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Endo, Szoboszlai, Jones; Salah, Gakpo, Diaz.