Liverpool v Crystal Palace: the psychology, injuries and predictions

Liverpool have never won the Premier League – something that is easy to forget given the way in which their status is hyped up by the media on a regular basis. But the reality is that their triumphs came before the new format came along, and they are looking to this season to be the break through moment.

Certainly sitting clear at the top of the league in mid January, four points clear of the club in second place and nine points clear of the club in third, is no bad setting for an assault on the first Premier League trophy at Anfield.

Although they only sit second in the league when home form matches are calculated they have games in hand…

Home matches only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester C 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26

Manchester City are above them on home form simply because they have played two more at home than Liverpool, whose record of nine wins, one draw and no defeats, is second to none.

Away from home Crystal Palace don’t look so secure…

9 Wolverhampton 11 4 3 4 11 13 -2 15
10 West Ham 10 4 2 4 13 14 -1 14
11 Crystal Palace 11 4 1 6 14 17 -3 13
12 Newcastle U 11 2 5 4 9 14 -5 11
13 Southampton 12 3 2 7 12 22 -10 11

Just four wins away, and six defeats for Palace with a goal difference of -3; against Liverpool’s home goal difference of +24 with only three goals put in the net against them at Anfield.

Liverpool did have a little slip up of late…

03 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Liverpool L 2-1
07 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton v Liverpool (FAC) L 2-1
12 Jan 2019 Brighton and Hove Albion v Liverpool W 0-1

but prior to that they had eight straight wins, and the modest away victory on the South Coast leads me to think that the cover has been turned.

Unfortunately Palace’s home form doesn’t give one the feeling that they can turn matters around…

26 Dec 2018 Crystal Palace v Cardiff City D 0-0
30 Dec 2018 Crystal Palace v Chelsea L 0-1
02 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton v Crystal Palace W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Crystal Palace v Grimsby Town FAC W 1-0
12 Jan 2019 Crystal Palace v Watford L 1-2

Two wins in the last five and although one was highly commendable there are still the defeats and a draw against lowly Cardiff.

The Psychology

I really can’t see anything here to give Liverpool the worries nor Palace the certainty they can win.

The injuries 

Liverpool have six players out, but Wijnaldum looks like he could return.  The players with real problems are Alexander Arnold, Lovren, Lallana, Gomez, and of course Oxlade Chamberlain.

Palace have three out, Guaita, Hennessey, and Souare.   I doubt that Liverpool’s longer list will bring any worries to Liverpool’s management in preparation for this game.  I take them to win easily.  4-0 I expect.

Brighton v Liverpool the predictions and the psychology

After three consecutive defeats Brighton are unbeaten in four…

08 Dec 2018 Burnley v Brighton and Hove Albion L 1-0
16 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Chelsea L 1-2
22 Dec 2018 AFC Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove Albion L 2-0
26 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal D 1-1
29 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Everton W 1-0
02 Jan 2019 West Ham United v Brighton and Hove Albion D 2-2
05 Jan 2019 Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove (FA Cup) W 1-3

And what is interesting is that apart from the final game we have a run of matches without either side scoring more than two.   But is such a run of four undefeated enough to cause Liverpool a problem?

Liverpool had eight consecutive wins ending with a 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal and then…

03 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Liverpool L 2-1
07 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton W v Liverpool FA C L 2-1

Two away defeats – maybe the first could be predicted but the second seemed very unlikely.

But more than this, in those two matches Liverpool lost two cherished aims; to be only the second team since the 19th century to go all season unbeaten and to be only the third team to get more than one cup and league double.    Given the results they had been getting up to that point they must have thought both were ready and waiting for them.

Brighton at home are not something to be sneezed at.  Here is the league table based on home games only…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 11 10 0 1 37 10 27 30
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 11 6 4 1 19 8 11 22
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21
6 Tottenham Hotspur 9 6 0 3 18 9 9 18
7 Brighton and Hove Albion 10 5 3 2 15 11 4 18

Five wins, three draws, two defeats.  True the goals are not rattling in, but 15 for and 11 against is OK for a recently promoted club.

Liverpool might be top of the table overall but they are not when it comes to away games…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 11 8 2 1 22 7 15 26
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Manchester United 11 5 2 4 22 19 3 17

However recent wobble or not, this is still an excellent away for record with goalscoring to match.  Liverpool have scored more and conceded fewer away than Brighton have at home, which clearly suggests a win for Liverpool.

Psychological effects

The only thing that will stop Liverpool is themselves, with their concerns about those last two defeats.  Everything was going so well, and then suddenly it all goes wrong.   And not just wrong but two targets are now irretrievably lost.

And it is the impact of history that sooner or later will have a psychological effect on the club.  Their last trophy was in 2012 – the League Cup.  Before that it was the FA Cup in 2006.  Their last League title 1990.

The club does need to establish itself as a modern great not just by winning something but by doing it in a style that other clubs have managed, and for that they need to pick themselves up quickly.

If they can do so, the chances are they can give Manchester City a run for their money at the top.   But eyes will also be watching the transfer window this January – does the owner have the depth of pocket and nerves to go on and spend a lot more money?

Given these questions and issues the win in what might otherwise seem to be a match of little significance in the broader scheme of things, could mean a lot.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool: the predictions and the psychology

You don’t need me to tell you that Liverpool are flying through this season.  Nor that they were pursuing the notion of going unbeaten all season.  But didn’t.

Here is their away form thus far this season

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 11 8 2 1 22 7 15 26
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Manchester United 11 5 2 4 22 19 3 17

Eight wins two draws and one defeat, away from home with 22 scored and seven conceded – quite a superb away record in a league where away form among the bigger clubs is growing.

So where have those away defeats come from?  Here’s the full list including all the major competitions.

Date Game Res
26 Sep 2018 Liverpool v Chelsea L 1-2 League Cup
03 Oct 2018 Napoli v Liverpool L 1-0 Champions League
06 Nov 2018 Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool L 2-0 Champions League
28 Nov 2018 Paris St Germain v Liverpool L 2-1 Champions League
03 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Liverpool L 2-1 Premier League

On the other hand Liverpool did have a run of eight successive wins in all competitions ahead of the 3 January result.

Wolverhampton at home are more modest in their achievements…

Team P W D L F A GD
Pts
9 Everton 11 5 3 3 18 16 2 18
10 Watford 11 5 1 5 16 18 -2 16
11 Leicester City 10 4 2 4 12 10 2 14
12 West Ham United 11 4 2 5 16 18 -2 14
13 Wolverhampton Wanderers 11 4 2 5 12 15 -3 14

Four wins two draws and five defeats.

If we look at Wolverhampton’s results through December and into this month (all of which have been Premier League games) we find just two defeats…

05 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea W 2-1
09 Dec 2018 Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 1-2
15 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v AFC Bournemouth W 2-0
21 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool L 0-2
26 Dec 2018 Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers D 1-1
29 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 1-3
02 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crystal Palace L 0-2

One to Liverpool and one in their most recent game at home to Crystal Palace.

But although that last result was a great disappointment the away win over Tottenham and the earlier victory also away over Chelsea would have given them a particular boost.

The psychological affect

What Wolverhampton really need is for their to be an effect on Liverpool from having lost the chance to go through the season unbeaten.  If one combines this with a strong desire to win the league for the first time in 28 years 246 days then that could see them through. But that is quite a long time for a club that used to pride itself with winning the league virtually every season – but just as Manchester United have since found, once a run like that ends, it is so hard to pick it up again.

Of course playing the cup gives Liverpool the chance to go for the double – something they have only done once (Manchester United and Arsenal have each done it three times).

I suspect their scoring habit of two goals a game away from home however will be too much for Wolverhampton who on average only score one goal a game at home.   0-2 or 1-2 to Liverpool it is.

 

Manchester City v Liverpool: the predictions and the psychology

Manchester City at home are only second best to Liverpool – having dropped points in a defeat as opposed to a draw.  The factor Manchester City have in their favour is that at home they are scoring 3.5 goals a match on average – which gives them a lot of leeway when facing a team at the top of the league.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
2 Manchester City 10 9 0 1 35 9 26 27
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 10 6 3 1 19 8 11 21

Looking at the away performance Liverpool are the team who drop down a place from their overall league position…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 10 8 2 0 21 5 16 26
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20

Tottenham’s performance away is quite something – and may well be related to their happiness away because they are not playing at Wembley and thus reminded yet again of the delays in the building of their stadium, and allegations that it is being built on the cheap.

But Liverpool, although unbeaten away, have only knocked in 21 goals – 2.1 per game, against Manchester City’s 3.5 a game.  In defence away from home Liverpool are slightly better off conceding 0.5 goals a game away to 0.9 for Manchester City at home.

But these figures combined do leave Manchester City with a goal difference at home, 10 greater than Liverpool away.

In December in the league Manchester City got these results…

01 Dec 2018 Manchester City v AFC Bournemouth W 3-1
04 Dec 2018 Watford v Manchester City W 1-2
08 Dec 2018 Chelsea v Manchester City L 2-0
15 Dec 2018 Manchester City v Everton W 3-1
22 Dec 2018 Manchester City v Crystal Palace L 2-3
26 Dec 2018 Leicester City v Manchester City L 2-1
30 Dec 2018 Southampton v Manchester City W 1-3

Three defeats against four victories – clearly not was expected by those in power which is what makes me think Manchester City will go out on another spending spree – although they will have the problem in that they are pretty well full of non-home-grown players and so will be looking for home growners to keep them growing.  As it were.  Unless they flog off some of their expensive foreigners on the cheap.

Liverpool in December had a perfect run of wins – including an extra game with a 1-0 win in the Champions League.  A perfect month.

02 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Everton W 1-0
05 Dec 2018 Burnley v Liverpool W 1-3
08 Dec 2018 AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool W 0-4
16 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Manchester United W 3-1
21 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool W 0-2
26 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Newcastle United W 4-0
29 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Arsenal W 5-1

22 goals in seven games – an average of 3.14 per game.  Manchester City scored 14 in seven, an average of two per game.

So Liverpool have the advantages of both no defeats in December and more goals scored.  They are the team in form.   Manchester City however have the form in goal scoring across the whole season.

The psychological effect

I believe that the ownership of Manchester City expected the club to win the league season year after year rather like Bayern in Germany and Juventus in Italy.  I suspect the manager and players had pretty much the same idea.  Just as the revelations about the way Manchester City and Uefa handled negotiations over expenditure in relation to Champions League rules, I do believe there is no thought that either rules or second best applies to them.

Now they don’t just have pesky neighbours who haven’t won the league in 29 years, they have pesky neighbours who are above them and on a better run.  That’s not the plan at all.

This could be causing some tension, and following their nine goals in the last two games, I suspect the psychological balance is very much with Liverpool.  They just expect to score, and go on scoring.

I have Liverpool to win, maybe 2-1.

Wolverhampton v Liverpool: the predictions

Liverpool as we know are having an excellent season following their recent spending sprees in the transfer market.  I doubt that Liverpool management seriously think they will win the league but they are looking to put down a marker for next season, while trying to win a cup this season.

Wolverhampton meanwhile are looking simply to hold on to their status and gradually re-establish themselves as a Premier League club.

Before this weekend’s games Wolverhampton are sitting 7th in the league – a much higher position than many predicted.   But their home form has more of a mid-table look about it…

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 9 9 0 0 33 6 27 27
2 Liverpool 8 7 1 0 18 2 16 22
3 Chelsea 9 6 3 0 19 7 12 21
4 Arsenal 9 6 2 1 17 8 9 20
5 Everton 9 5 3 1 16 9 7 18
6 Tottenham Hotspur 7 5 0 2 12 6 6 15
7 Manchester United 8 4 3 1 14 11 3 15
8 Watford 9 5 0 4 14 15 -1 15
9 Brighton and Hove Albion 8 4 2 2 13 10 3 14
10 Wolverhampton Wanderers 9 4 2 3 12 11 1 14

Four wins, two draws and three defeats, with 12 goals scored and 11 conceded.  After a seven match winless run they have just put together three victories, a real bounce back from a defeat at the end of last month to Cardiff.

30 Nov 2018 Cardiff City v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 2-1 Premier League
05 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea W 2-1 Premier League
09 Dec 2018 Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 1-2 Premier League
15 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v AFC Bournemouth W 2-0 Premier League

All the more credit to Wolverhampton at home in that the first of these three games was against Chelsea.

Liverpool’s away form is beaten only by Tottenham who have been allowed to move fixtures around to try and accommodate the lack of, well, home accommodation.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 10 8 0 2 19 10 9 24
2 Liverpool 9 7 2 0 19 5 14 23
3 Manchester City 8 5 2 1 15 4 11 17
4 Chelsea 8 5 1 2 16 7 9 16
5 Arsenal 8 4 2 2 20 15 5 14

Seven wins and two draws in nine Liverpool away games with just five conceded is impressive form by any standards.  A 2-0 average victory.

Thus if Wolverhampton are full of confidence so are Liverpool.  From 7 October onwards they have only lost twice and both of these defeats have been in the Champions League – which is interesting considering that some Liverpool fans consider this their natural chance of a trophy.

07 Oct 2018 Liverpool v Manchester City D 0-0 Premier League
20 Oct 2018 Huddersfield Town v Liverpool W 0-1 Premier League
24 Oct 2018 Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda W 4-0 Champions League
27 Oct 2018 Liverpool v Cardiff City W 4-1 Premier League
03 Nov 2018 Arsenal v Liverpool D 1-1 Premier League
06 Nov 2018 Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool L 2-0 Champions League
11 Nov 2018 Liverpool v Fulham W 2-0 Premier League
24 Nov 2018 Watford v Liverpool W 0-3 Premier League
28 Nov 2018 Paris St Germain v Liverpool L 2-1 Champions League
02 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Everton W 1-0 Premier League
05 Dec 2018 Burnley v Liverpool W 1-3 Premier League
08 Dec 2018 AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool W 0-4 Premier League
11 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Napoli W 1-0 Champions League
16 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Manchester United W 3-1 Premier League

So it is six wins in a row in the Premier League for Liverpool, but away from home these have been against Bournemouth, Burnley and Watford.   The last time Liverpool met one of the larger teams in the league away it was a draw.

However for all Wolverhampton’s progress one cannot put them in the category of a serious “top six” club, and this looks like a Liverpool victory all the way.   0-2 to Liverpool, but could be more if Wolverhampton let things slip in the last 15 minutes.