Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers predictions and psychology

My suspicion is that Manchester City expected to win the league title this season as easily as they did last season, and have been unprepared for the strength of Liverpool’s challenge.   Certainly anyone placing a bet on Liverpool being this far ahead at this point of the season would have got stupendous odds and rather strange looks as the bookie happily took the money.

But we are where we are and Liverpool are out in front.  All Man City can do is win their games.

In terms of home performances they are right out front

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 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25

and that in itself makes any match on their ground look like a home win.

Wolverhampton’s away record is not so clever…

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 12 9 2 1 23 7 16 29
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Manchester United 12 6 2 4 23 19 4 20
6 Leicester City 11 5 2 4 13 13 0 17
7 Watford 11 4 4 3 16 14 2 16
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 4 3 3 11 10 1 15

Four wins, three draws and three defeats scoring just one goal a game and letting in the same.   While Manchester City at home score three or four on average and concede just one.   Which makes it look like a straight 4-1, or at least 3-1, to Manchester City.

All Wolverhampton can look for is a recent dip in form from City but even that is missing…

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
03 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Liverpool W 2-1
06 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Rotherham United FAC W 7-0
09 Jan 2019 Manchester City v Burton Albion Lge Cup W 9-0

After the defeats to Palace and Leicester Manchester City have recovered and have knocked in 21 goals in four games, although two were against lower league teams.  But such team still have to be beaten.   There is nothing here to show that they are in any mood to do anything other than score as many goals as possible.

Wolverhampton themselves have had a bit of a boost of late…

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
07 Jan 2019 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool FAC W 2-1

Three straight wins early in December, and a modest defeat to Liverpool which itself was offset by knocking Liverpool out of the Cup – in a season when Liverpool were clearly hoping for a second league and cup double.

That win over Liverpool and earlier against Tottenham at Wembley were both remarkable, and when we add in the Chelsea game it looks as if Wolves have a secret weapon against the big clubs.  But Tottenham are slipping up at Wembley – a ground they seem to hate – and I can’t see Manchester City letting any more points drop away.   They still have hopes of catching Liverpool even though it means waiting for Liverpool to slip.

I’ll stick with my easy win for Man City.

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.

 

Totteham Hotspur v Wolverhampton: the predictions

If Tottenham do have a weakness it is at home as this league table based only on home matches shows

Club P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 10 9 0 1 35 9 26 27
2 Liverpool 9 8 1 0 22 2 20 25
3 Arsenal 10 7 2 1 20 9 11 23
4 Chelsea 10 6 3 1 19 8 11 21
5 Tottenham Hotspur 8 6 0 2 17 6 11 18

Even if Tottenham won both their home games in hand they would still only be third in the table, and winning both those home games is by no means certain.

Plus they have a problem: they will at some stage move to the new stadium, and unless they overthrow all historic prescedents that will give them some further issues.

It is not that they are bad at home thus far – not at all – but they are not operating at the level of the top two, which is where they aim to be.

As the table below shows they are in fact operating brilliantly away from home.  And this table shows why they certainly ought to win this match with ease for Wolverhampton are very much a mid-table away side

Club P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 11 9 0 2 25 12 13 27
2 Liverpool 10 8 2 0 21 5 16 26
3 Chelsea 9 6 1 2 18 8 10 19
4 Manchester City 9 5 2 2 16 6 10 17
5 Arsenal 9 4 3 2 21 16 5 15
6 Manchester United 10 4 2 4 20 19 1 14
7 West Ham United 9 4 2 3 13 12 1 14
8 Leicester City 10 4 2 4 12 13 -1 14
9 Watford 9 3 3 3 11 10 1 12
10 Wolverhampton Wanderers 9 3 3 3 8 9 -1 12

Three wins, three draws and three defeats with just eight goals scored and nine conceded does not give one the feeling that this team can defeat a team which has won six and lost two at home scoring 17 and conceding six.

Indeed since their defeat to Arsenal away from home Tottenham have regained their form in the league…

05 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton W 3-1
08 Dec 2018 Leicester City v Tottenham Hotspur W 0-2
15 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley W 1-0
23 Dec 2018 Everton v Tottenham Hotspur W 2-6
26 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth W 5-0

Form can’t get better than that, not least with 11 goals in the last two games.  True Wolverhampton have not been doing too bad in the last five…

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

And their defence looks solid, so they might well reduce Tottenham down from the five and six level, both because they are a defensive team and Tottenham are at Wembley, but even so anything other than a clear Tottenham victory by two goals or more would be a great surprise.

Other predictions…

 

Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers: match predictions

In broad terms things could not look much worse for Fulham, being bottom of the table and four points off safety

Pos Tam P W D L F A GD Pts
16 Southampton 18 3 6 9 19 33 -14 15
17 Cardiff City 18 4 2 12 18 38 -20 14
18 Burnley 18 3 3 12 16 36 -20 12
19 Huddersfield Town 18 2 4 12 11 31 -20 10
20 Fulham 18 2 4 12 16 42 -26 10

Although their home form isn’t quite as bad as one might assume…

15 Southampton 8 1 5 2 9 12 -3 8
16 Crystal Palace 8 2 2 4 5 8 -3 8
17 Fulham 8 2 2 4 10 18 -8 8
18 Burnley 8 2 1 5 9 15 -6 7
19 Newcastle United 10 2 1 7 7 15 -8 7
20 Huddersfield Town 10 1 2 7 4 14 -10 5

The fact is they have only lost half of their games at home, drawing two and winning two.  But their goal difference at home is minus eight, due in no small measure to the defeat at the Cottage by Arsenal

But the terrible run of eight successive defeats is now over and although they are not exactly setting football alight since that point, they are now doing a little better…

Date Game Res Score Competition
24 Nov 2018 Fulham v Southampton W 3-2 Premier League
02 Dec 2018 Chelsea v Fulham L 2-0 Premier League
05 Dec 2018 Fulham v Leicester City D 1-1 Premier League
08 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Fulham L 4-1 Premier League
15 Dec 2018 Fulham v West Ham United L 0-2 Premier League
22 Dec 2018 Newcastle United v Fulham D 0-0 Premier League

One win in six is not a cause for celebration, but three games undefeated in six when bottom of the league is at least a straw to grab.

As an away team Woverhampton are mid-table

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 10 8 2 0 21 5 16 26
2 Tottenham Hotspur 10 8 0 2 19 10 9 24
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
6 Manchester United 10 4 2 4 20 19 1 14
7 Leicester City 10 4 2 4 12 13 -1 14
8 Watford 9 3 3 3 11 10 1 12
9 West Ham United 8 3 2 3 11 11 0 11
10 Wolverhampton Wanderers 8 3 2 3 7 8 -1 11

While Fulham have 2 wins, 2 draws and 4 defeats, Wolverhampton have 3 wins, 2 draw and 3 defeats away.  While Fulham have conceded 18, scoring 10 at home, Wolverhampton have conceded 8 while scoring seven.   That makes it look like Wolverhampton could just edge this.

But Wolverhampton’s form of late is strange…  We can see a poor run of form across six games running up to 30 November with a defeat to struggling Cardiff, but then straight wins against Chelsea, Newcastle and Bournemouth.   The defeat at home to Liverpool was certaintly predictable however.

20 Oct 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Watford L 0-2
27 Oct 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 1-0
03 Nov 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur L 2-3
11 Nov 2018 Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers D 1-1
25 Nov 2018 Wolverhampton Wanderers v Huddersfield Town L 0-2
30 Nov 2018 Cardiff City v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 2-1
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

If however we take just the away games this is what we see…

27 Oct 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 1-0
11 Nov 2018 Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers D 1-1
30 Nov 2018 Cardiff City v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 2-1
09 Dec 2018 Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers W 1-2

One win in four, and that against a Newcastle team that doesn’t seem to know where it is going.

These away defeats to Brighton and Cardiff must give Fulham some hope of them coming away with a draw.

Fulham have not won in the last five so a win might be too much to ask but a 1-1- draw is possible if they can avoid the 1-2 defeat that seems more likely.

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.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Bournemouth: the predictions

In terms of home form Wolverhampton Wanderers are dead on mid-table

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Liverpool 16 13 3 0 34 6 28 42
2 Manchester City 16 13 2 1 45 9 36 41
3 Tottenham Hotspur 16 12 0 4 30 16 14 36
4 Chelsea 16 10 4 2 33 13 20 34
5 Arsenal 16 10 4 2 35 20 15 34
6 Manchester United 16 7 5 4 28 26 2 26
7 Everton 16 6 6 4 23 19 4 24
8 AFC Bournemouth 16 7 2 7 25 26 -1 23
9 Leicester City 16 6 4 6 21 20 1 22
10 Wolverhampton W 16 6 4 6 17 19 -2 22

Away from home Bournemouth are in much the same position.  Here’s the table just showing away games…

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA 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 Arsenal 7 4 2 1 18 12 6 14
5 Chelsea 7 4 1 2 14 6 8 13
6 Manchester United 8 3 2 3 14 15 -1 11
7 Leicester City 8 3 2 3 11 12 -1 11
8 Wolverhampton W 8 3 2 3 7 8 -1 11
9 AFC Bournemouth 7 3 0 4 11 12 -1 9

Interestingly Wolverhampton at home and Bournemouth away both have negative goal differences, and just one goal apart, Wolverhampton at home on -2 and Bournemouth away on -1.

But Bournemouth are scoring and conceding at a much lower rate away than Wolverhampton are achieving at home.

Here are Wolverhampton’s home games of late

29 Sep 2018 Wolverhampton W v Southampton W 2-0 Premier League
20 Oct 2018 Wolverhampton W v Watford L 0-2 Premier League
03 Nov 2018 Wolverhampton W v Tottenham H L 2-3 Premier League
25 Nov 2018 Wolverhampton W v Huddersfield T L 0-2 Premier League
05 Dec 2018 Wolverhampton v Chelsea W 2-1 Premier League

Two wins and three defeats in the last five.

Bournemouth away also delivers three defeats and two wins.  It seems neither team wants to get away from the rut.

22 Sep 2018 Burnley v AFC Bournemouth L 4-0 Premier League
06 Oct 2018 Watford v AFC Bournemouth W 0-4 Premier League
27 Oct 2018 Fulham v AFC Bournemouth W 0-3 Premier League
10 Nov 2018 Newcastle United v AFC Bournemouth L 2-1 Premier League
01 Dec 2018 Manchester City v AFC Bournemouth L 3-1 Premier League

Wolverhampton have the advantage in that they are at home and their last match was a stonking 2-1 victory over Chelsea.  With the scoring records overall of these two we might go for a goalless draw, but there have been 18 goals in these last five Bournemouth away games and 14 in the last five Wolverhampton home win.

This suggests goals; three a game in fact, possibly four.  One might even start looking at a 2-2 draw.  Otherwise we are thinking that the 2-1 win over Chelsea could give Wolverhampton confidence and they migh squeeze out the win – again 2-1, although 3-1 if Bournemouth lose heart near the end.