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Thiago vs. Neves “crucial” as Wolves expect final day “twist” for Liverpool

Wolves‘ season has fizzled out after a promising start, but they can still have a major say in the Premier League title race this weekend.

So, it’s all come down to this!

Liverpool go into Sunday’s final day one point behind Man City, with Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa side heading to the Etihad – and the title permutations are clear.

The Reds welcome Wolves to Anfield for what will hopefully be a routine win, but a last-gasp Divock Origi strike was needed at Molinuex earlier in the campaign, so it may not be easy.

Ahead of the game, we spoke to Sam Cook from The Wolves 77 Club podcast (@77ClubPodcast) to get an assessment of the season, Liverpool’s brilliance and more.

 

How would you assess Wolves’ season overall?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 13, 2022: Wolverhampton Wanderers' captain Conor Coady drinks water during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Goodison Park. Wolverhampton Wanderers won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At the beginning of the season, we did our predictions and all of us settled on ninth place – so in a sense, our season has gone as well as expected.

It is, however, going to be one of those campaigns where we look at the final table and wonder what could have been.

Wolves’ form over the last 15 games has been the equivalent to relegation form and if we carry this into next season then we are going to have serious problems.

We finished the season at Molineux with a pretty pathetic 1-1 draw with already-relegated Norwich – that goal was the 20th we’d scored in 19 games at home, which is not just shocking, but boring too.

Injuries haven’t helped, mind. There’s been significant disruption to the spine of the team at crucial points.

Add to that a very small squad and possibly one of the worst pieces of January transfer business I’ve ever seen at the club – Adama Traore leaving on loan to Barcelona to sit on their bench – and it’s the perfect recipe for not finishing in a European spot.

 

Is Lage still the right man for the job?

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 29, 2021: Wolverhampton Wanderers' manager Bruno Lage during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Manchester United FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bruno Lage hasn’t had a fair crack of the whip at all.

Barring Jose Sa, Francisco Trincao and Hwang Hee-chan, these are Nuno Espirito Santo’s players.

Why would anyone expect anything different?

The majority of the time, I will always seriously judge a manager after they’ve had three transfer windows – it’s hard to put your stamp on a team in anything less than that, in my opinion.

So the answer for me is yes, he is the right man, but this summer will see the first proper overhaul we’ve had since promotion and it could go either way.

 

Who have been Wolves’ three best players this season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 13, 2022: Wolverhampton Wanderers' Rúben Neves during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Goodison Park. Wolverhampton Wanderers won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jose Sa. What a signing for £6.3 million. I was unsure over whether or not he would replace Rui Patricio, but he’s been fantastic, and without him, we would be in big trouble.

Max Kilman showed some real class through the first two-thirds of the season. His name was starting to get mentioned in the same sentences as ‘Southgate’ and ‘Qatar’.

His dip in form and subsequent injury were a real shame for the team. Getting him back will do a lot for us defensively, but that won’t be until August.

I’d like to split the last pick between Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho.

The former has been class at times this season and he won Goal of the Season for his chip against Watford.

It looks like Neves will be leaving – teary goodbyes after the last home game are always telling, unless he was genuinely upset at drawing with Norwich!

And the latter, Moutinho, has rolled back the years and won us precious games this season.

The guy is 36 this year, just unbelievable. He also made and completed the most passes this season. Evergreen. I hope he stays.

 

Which individuals have struggled?

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, November 1, 2021: Wolverhampton Wanderers' Raúl Jiménez after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Everton FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Trincao has rarely stepped up, barring a wonder strike against Chelsea and a decent cameo in the eventual loss to Leeds at home (arguably the game we pinpoint when asking ‘where did it all go wrong?’).

Raul Jimenez has sadly struggled. I won’t hold it against him, though. To see him playing again after his horror injury is a miracle.

 

Looking ahead to Sunday, how highly do you rate this Reds side?

Joel Matip celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton. Picture date: Tuesday May 17, 2022. ( PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

Well, I’m 31, so this is easily the best Liverpool side of my lifetime.

Although I did see Djimi Traore collect a Champions League medal, so it depends on what you mean by best!

But seriously, a joy to watch and they’ve pushed City all the way – in my mind, there could be one more twist.

 

How many trophies will Liverpool end the season with?

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 17, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I have a real feeling about Sunday and I don’t know why.

The Champions League final could go either way – I’m going to say three, but I won’t say which one of those two!

 

Where do you see the key battles taking place at Anfield?

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 4, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara' (R) and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Rúben Neves during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thiago vs. Neves will be a crucial one. Jota vs johnny is another one.

But if Wolves are going to get anything out of this game, it will have to be a clinical display and that has rarely happened this season.

 

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

2H95FTW Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Divock Origi celebrate after the Premier League match at Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton. Picture date: Saturday December 4, 2021.

Head: Liverpool 4-1 Wolves

Heart: Liverpool 1-2 Wolves

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