An Insider's View
Right, for those of you that don't know already i am a Liverpool fan who lives in Wolverhampton. After growing up with a brother who was obsessed with the Red's and a Dad who supported Wolverhampton Wanderers but not enough to rub in the tradition my love for Liverpool began. At a pretty young age with my brother's room full of posters, magazines etc etc and him constantly watching Liverpool games on the TV i soon began to pick up things and learn about the club until i was old enough to follow them properly, make my own views and buy my first Liverpool shirt, from then on i have stuck with the lads ever since and will never turn back, unlike my brother (now 30) who switched to supporting Wolves when he was about 19, how he did it i don't know but anyway...
Your probably thinking, why on earth did you just tell me that paragraph of what was seemingly nonsense? Well i felt that was the first bit i should explain before then explaining how i came to work at The Molineux...
After being pretty skint in 6th form at my old school about 2 years ago i decided it was about time i found myself a nice little part time job. I have an Auntie who works for Ladbrokes so figured I'd have a better chance of getting a job there what with knowing an employee, anyway, long story short, no shop jobs were available but betting cashiers were needed at The Molineux so i gladly took the job.
After Ladbrokes moved on this May i now work for Sporting Bet (BD Stadia) still at The Molineux and as part of the perks of the job i get to watch all the matches if i choose too, i am also very lucky in a sense i get to meet a lot of football players and managers including the mighty Ian Rush, easily one of the best moments in my life.
Not one to refuse a free footy match and knowing that it is always (especially this season) good to keep a close eye on how Wolves and the opposition are playing i have seen most of the Wolves home games this season aside from the Midlands derby as i had to dash to find a bus then get home just in time for the 2-0 win over Everton.
So after that you can now understand how for this match preview i do in fact have an "insider's view" i hope that wasn't too boring, but hey, at least you won't have to read it again.
So with that out the way the first thing i am going to highlight is who i think will be the main threats on Boxing Day to a shaky Liverpool side.
For me easily their star man is Matthew Jarvis, a pacey and skillful winger who in most games i have seen has been a key aspect to Wolves's play and result. Providing a lot of crosses and set piece play he is definitely one to be wary of, our defence will need to be sharp and even more so Kuyt who will probably start on the right wing.
Secondly Kevin Doyle, who you may be aware of is also on form at the moment after managing to get Wolves that miraculous winning goal at White Hart Lane and again scoring against Burnley on Sunday. He is a strong striker and a big favourite with the fans, also one to keep an eye on.
Worth pointing out is Ebanks-Blake, coincidentally he is actually a Liverpool fan despite having a short spell at Manchester United. Again he is a fan favourite and pretty much was the reason Wolves got promoted but i have been keeping a close eye on him and i don't think he has adapted to the Premier League if i am honest. He struggles to turn defenders and is often slightly lazy, nevertheless i assume he would love to get a goal at Anfield to add to his record and his talent should not be shunned.
Wolves have conceded 31 goals in all matches so far this season and although they can sometimes be quite fallible they do have veterans and solid defenders in the likes of Stearman and Craddock (also prone to scoring the odd goal).
Another thing to note about Wolves is that they do seem to sit back and protect a result if they feel that result is right i.e a score draw, win etc. This sometimes does not work to their favour as they tend to keep everyone back towards the end of the match with nobody left up for the option of a counter attack, they always look very nervy at these stages but to be fair usually do come away with what they want. This is also only what i can say for home games, possibly not reflected in away fixtures.
So what should we expect?
The defence WILL be hassled i should think, Jarvis, Doyle and Milijas probably being the main problems. Wolves tend to play the 4-4-2 and often work in a traditional way it will be gritty and they will be up for the challenge but again even after our recent problems this fixture shouldn't provide too many complications.
Liverpool are still without NEZ, Kelly and Riera and Mascherano will be suspended. Aquilani would therefore be your first thought, unfortunately he picked up a knock recently so may still be unavailable for the Boxing Day clash, however Rafa has been quoted today saying:
"Alberto was working with the physios on Tuesday because he had a knock in his calf but he will train today with the team and hopefully will be available for the weekend."Other options if Aquilani is not able to start include Spearing and Plessis, this could prove an interesting option and if we're all honest, any other time that we were to face Wolves at Anfield you wouldn't feel so bad about having the hole in midfield but under recent circumstances it could prove a problem.
With Gerrard and Torres both expected to start I'm hopeful that the magic will be there, Gerrard was speaking in the press yesterday encouraging heads to be lifted, maybe it is now we will see the turn around of the skipper? A goal would do wonders for his confidence. Torres we also must not forget just needs one goal to reach 50 before any other Liverpool player, again another major incentive.
It would be nice to see Benayoun start this one as i feel it is a perfect fixture for the Israeli, Wolves would struggle to deal with the skill and pace of the number 15 not to mention his vision.
So with all of this in mind i am going to stick my neck out and say 2-1 to Liverpool, i hope we don't actually concede but in all honesty i think the defense will leak to the tune of at least one goal.
I hope you all enjoy the match on Boxing Day wherever you may be watching it, spare a thought for little old me though, in a pub full of Wolves fans with my other half and several mates also following the away side i seriously hope i get the last laugh!
Merry Christmas folks, let's hope it's a happy Boxing Day too!