Conor Coady’s “Reds pedigree”, Fabinho vs. Neves and why Wolves fans are confident for Friday

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Liverpool visit Conor Coady’s Wolves for another vital Premier League clash on Friday night, with the hosts confident of getting a result.

The Reds put Man United to the sword on Sunday afternoon, winning 3-1 at Anfield and going back to the top of the table.

It also resulted in the sacking of Jose Mourinho, which was a nice little bonus!

Jurgen Klopp‘s side take on a buoyant Wolves side on Friday knowing they can open up a four-point gap on Man City and be top of the pile at Christmas.

It will not be easy, though, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s men performing excellently since returning to the top flight.

Ahead of the game, we spoke to The Wolves 77 Club podcast’s Sam Cook (@77ClubPodcast) to get his view on the game and how both teams are faring this season.

 

Wolves sit seventh in the Premier League – how happy are you with the season so far?

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo (Dave Thompson/PA Wire)

If you had offered seventh place after 17 games I’d have bitten your hand off!

It’s been fantastic to watch this season and we’re enjoying it.

Wolves are playing some fantastic football that we’re not used to in recent years in the top flight, if we’re being honest.

 

What has been the key to such a solid return to the top flight?

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Conor Coady during the Sky Bet Championship match at Molineux, Wolverhampton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday November 3, 2017. See PA story SOCCER Wolves. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications

It has been a solid return in more than one way.

The manner in which Wolves won promotion was emphatic, but not just because of having the best players, but also the buy-in from the entire squad when it came to Nuno’s philosophy on how to play football, and the attitude to play it with.

It’s been the back four, though—Rui Patricio in goal, and more often than not, Ryan Bennett, Conor Coady and Willy Boly.

With those boys, Wolves have the fifth-best defensive record in the Premier League, with 19 conceded in 17 games.

Staying up has always been the main priority and good records at the back can be priceless in achieving that. A good goal difference can sometimes be worth an extra point.

 

Which players have stood out most for Wolves, and why?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - Sunday, June 17, 2018: Mexico's Raul Jimenez during the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Group F match between Germany and Mexico at the Luzhniki Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’ve mentioned four already but I would be doing Raul Jimenez a huge disservice if I didn’t highlight his impact—he’s been crucial.

Wolves have scored 19 goals this season—he’s scored five and assisted four. His all-round play has been phenomenal and his work rate off the ball is superb.

He hasn’t played in the Premier League before, but you certainly wouldn’t know it. The quicker his loan move is turned into a permanent one, the better.

Matt Doherty is another. His work rate, pace and desire are wonderful to see.

He is a credit to the team and always offers an attacking threat—even after 95 minutes (like we saw with him grabbing the winner at Newcastle).

 

How has Conor Coady fared in the Premier League, having not quite made the grade at Liverpool?

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, December 19, 2017: Liverpool's Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe chats with former player Wolverhampton Wanderer's Conor Coady during an Under-18 FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool FC at the Sir Jack Hayward Training Ground. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If we’re completely honest—and realistic—Coady wasn’t going to make the grade at Wolves either, had Nuno not converted him to that defensive role.

He has taken it by the scruff of the neck and made it his own, though. He reads the game extremely well for someone who hasn’t been playing there that long, although being part of that back-four unit would’ve filled him with confidence.

And the boy can pick a pass—that’s where you can see his Reds pedigree.

 

What have you made of Liverpool’s start? Genuine title challengers now?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Liverpool's 23' celebrates scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It’s our year” – Every Liverpool fan since 1990!

Liverpool are certainly title contenders. Will they win it? No.

I’d love to see them lift the Premier League—my dad is a huge Reds fan—but I don’t think it will happen.

That’s not because they’re not good enough, I just feel City are better.

It all comes down to that fixture at the Etihad in January. At the moment it’s Liverpool’s to lose, and they’ve done that on more than one occasion.

 

Anyone you fear for the Reds, in particular?

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 8, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool FC at the Vitality Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mo Salah is the obvious answer here—he’s a fantastic player. The way he creates chances for himself every single game is great.

But for once in a long time, potentially since Pepe Reina’s reign, Liverpool have a world-class goalkeeper between the sticks.

Strikers win you matches and goalkeepers win you titles—I can’t think of a side that’s won the Premier League who hasn’t had a great ‘keeper.

Fabinho is growing into that midfield role, too…

 

Looking ahead to the game, where do you see the key battles taking place?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 11, 2018: Liverpool's Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho' during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Speaking of Fabinho, his battle with Ruben Neves is certainly a key battle.

The other is Boly vs. Salah.

Boly is a Goliath of a man, but he is as quick as he is physical. He will have to be on his game, though.

Fortunately for us, we’ve turned up against the so-called bigger sides all season. It looks like it will be a Christmas cracker.

 

Hit us with a prediction…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 16, 2018: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I’ve got the same feeling as I had before we played City, Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea.

I think it will finish 1-1, but I can’t tell you how much those bragging rights would mean to me over the festive period!

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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