The sturdy structures of Anfield are probably still rocking from Liverpool’s Champions League heroics on Tuesday night and there is still a possibility, albeit a faint one, that the stadium’s final match for three months could witness an even greater party shortly after 5 pm tomorrow. The Reds have been relentless in their pursuit of a first Premier League title, accruing 94 from a possible 111 to date, yet the equally unflinching nature of Manchester City means that Kopites will assemble more in hope than any great expectation for the visit of Wolves.
While the champions’ victory over Leicester last Monday was bad news for Liverpool, it was a result that raised smiles throughout Wolverhampton, for it confirmed that Nuno Espírito Santo’s men were assured of seventh place, the reward for which will be a Europa League qualifying berth should Manchester City beat Watford in the FA Cup final. Both Liverpool and Wolves have had an excellent season, but for the former, can it go from being excellent to a glorious one? Here’s the final Premier League statistics pack for 2018/19.
Last six Premier League games
Liverpool: W6, D0, L0, F17, A4, Pts 18
Wolves: W4, D1, L1, F9, A6, Pts 13
Liverpool’s current Premier League winning streak is eight matches and, if they can add one more to that on Sunday, it will be the second time they’ve won nine in a row in the league this season. It would also take them to 30 wins from their 38 matches. Having only conceded twice in five games prior to last week’s visit to Newcastle, the Reds then leaked two in one night but still came out on top thanks to Divock Origi’s late winner. If they avoid defeat against Wolves, Jürgen Klopp’s team will complete a second full Premier League season without being beaten at home and take their unbeaten league record at Anfield to 40 matches.
Wolves travel to Merseyside off the back of three straight wins, including a 3-1 hammering of Arsenal and an avenging of their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Watford. April also included a second win this season over Manchester United, although they dropped points against two teams who only recently secured survival in Southampton and Brighton. Despite that pair of disappointing results, Wolves have still managed the best Premier League finish by a promoted club in 17 years since Ipswich finished fifth in 2000/01.
Premier League head-to-head record
Liverpool won only two of the first five Premier League meetings between the teams but have emerged triumphant in each of the subsequent four clashes, three of which came at Molineux. The Reds have won three of the previous four league meetings of the teams at Anfield, with Wolves earning a famous victory on Merseyside in December 2010 when Stephen Ward netted in a match that encapsulated the misery of Roy Hodgson’s brief, ill-fated spell as Liverpool manager, one which ended a week later.
That remains the Midlanders’ only Premier League win over Liverpool, while they have two draws to their name from Molineux clashes in 2003/04 and 2009/10. Wolves have only scored three Premier League goals against the Reds, with Ward joined in that select group by Scottish pair Kenny Miller (1-1 in 2004) and Steven Fletcher (1-2 in 2011). However, when it comes to the FA Cup, Wolves seem to have something of a hex over Klopp’s Liverpool…
Last Anfield meeting
Liverpool 1-2 Wolves, 28 January 2017
Wolves fans will fondly remember their most recent visit to Anfield two years ago when, as a Championship side, they knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup in the fourth round. Richard Stearman needed only 53 seconds to head the visitors into an early lead, with the Reds’ set-piece defending of the pathetic variety. It became 2-0 shortly before half-time when Hélder Costa scythed through the home side’s defence on the counter, teeing up Andreas Weimann for a neat finish beyond Loris Karius.
Liverpool had already been beaten at home in two separate competitions by Swansea and Southampton in the preceding seven days and were staring straight a third Anfield setback in a week. Origi scored late on to fray a few of the visitors’ nerves but, unlike on multiple occasions this season, a late goal from the Belgian did not prove decisive.
Wolves held on for a deserved 2-1 victory, a feat they repeated in the same competition four months ago in the third round. Prior to the Champions League semi-final first leg in Barcelona on 1 May, that had been Liverpool’s last defeat in 20 matches in all competitions.
Premier League final day deciders – is there hope yet for Liverpool?
In 27 Premier League seasons, this is the eighth time that the destination of the title has been unknown going into the final day. What happened on the seven previous occasions that the title race went the full distance?
1994/95: Blackburn beaten but usurp United
Blackburn led reigning champions Manchester United by two points going into the final day, with Kenny Dalglish’s side away to Liverpool while the holders visited West Ham. Although Blackburn lost 2-1 at Anfield, the failure of Alex Ferguson’s team to win at Upton Park meant that Dalglish was still celebrating at the final whistle, five years after he guided Liverpool to what remains their most recent league title.
1995/96: Keegan does not love it
Having been 12 points clear in January, Newcastle collapsed spectacularly in the second half of the season, with manager Kevin Keegan giving his notorious “I would love it” speech as Manchester United passed them out and made sure of reclaiming the title with victory at Middlesbrough on the final day. Even had they lost, they would still have ended up as champions as they went into the final day with a two-point lead on the Magpies, who drew their concluding game.
1998/99: Ferguson completes the first leg of the treble
Just as Manchester United fans were in the unusual position of rooting for Liverpool four years previously, Arsenal supporters found themselves begging for Tottenham to thwart the Old Trafford club on the final day in 1999. It didn’t happen, as Ferguson’s team prevailed 2-1 and completed the first part of their famous treble.
2007/08: Chelsea’s wish isn’t Granted
Avram Grant was the surprise successor to José Mourinho at Chelsea early in the season and he took the title race to the final hurdle, although he needed Wigan to stop Manchester United from winning. It didn’t happen, with the reigning champions winning 2-0 at the DW Stadium, and Chelsea failed to uphold their part of the bargain, only able to draw 2-2 at home to Bolton.
2009/10: Chelsea stop United’s four in a row
Two years later, the roles were reversed, with Chelsea a point clear of Manchester United going into the final day. Again it was Wigan who potentially held the key to altering the course of the title race, but the Latics certainly didn’t threaten any shock, with Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues running out 8-0 winners amid a carnival atmosphere at Stamford Bridge and ending three years of Manchester United supremacy.
This is the only Premier League title race that has been arguably more compelling than the 2019 version. Manchester’s big two were the contenders, with City clawing back an eight-point deficit on United with a month remaining. City led by goal difference on the final day but were 1-2 down at home to QPR going into stoppage time, with United winning 1-0 at Sunderland. Cue Edin Dzeko and Sergio Agüero scoring two last-gasp goals to swing the pendulum towards the men in blue in a breathtaking finale that has gone down in football folklore.
2014: City pounce on Liverpool collapse
When Liverpool beat title rivals Manchester City a month from the end of the season, the Reds were in firm control of the race. However, they agonisingly slipped up against Chelsea and Crystal Palace while Manchester City won their final five games to lift a second title in three years. Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Newcastle on the final day was not enough, as City beat West Ham 2-0 to clinch the title by two points.
History is not on Liverpool’s side, as the team leading the Premier League going into the final day of fixtures has always gone on to become champions. However, in light of the heroics they pulled off against Barcelona in midweek, Kopites will not dismiss the notion of this most epic of title races producing one final, definitive twist.
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