Pedro Neto was Wolves' hero in second-half stoppage time as the Portugal international sealed a 2-1 comeback win over Chelsea at Molineux on Tuesday.

Frank Lampard's men went into the match the possibility of going top temporarily, but Wolves showed admirable character to come from behind to secure a fine victory against the odds.

Kurt Zouma went closest to breaking the deadlock late in the first half as he hit the frame of the goal, before Olivier Giroud did convert his seventh goal in as many games with 49 minutes on the clock.

Wolves were unperturbed, however, as Daniel Podence – a nuisance to Chelsea throughout – got himself a deserved goal in the 66th minute to restore parity.

Chelsea had seemingly ensured a share of the spoils when Wolves had a penalty award overturned, Neto deemed to have simulated contact in the area, but the winger ultimately had the final say in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

 

Frank Lampard has again dismissed suggestions Chelsea have the strongest squad in the Premier League because his side have yet to win anything.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp labelled the Blues as favourites to win the title earlier this month on the back of a huge off-season spending spree totalling more than £200million.

Chelsea were top of the table at the time and unbeaten in 13 matches in all competitions, but they have since lost 1-0 to Everton to slip down to fifth, three points off the summit.

And Lampard is not buying into claims that he has the deepest squad in the division.

"I just don't see it. I'm not talking down my squad by saying that," he said. 

"Some of the people saying we have the strongest squad were the same people saying we're no good when we drew 3-3 with West Brom and drew with Southampton. 

"The tide has turned quickly. The conversation is pretty irrelevant anyway because it's only what we do on the pitch that matters. 

"But I look around and see strong squads that have been winning things over the last few years and are stable. 

"People maybe want to look at the price tag, but some of those are younger players coming to this division to play for the first time and will need time. 

"This squad will [improve] and is improving. Strong squads will only be referred to when they win something. When I look around, there are other strong squads, ones that can have the best players in the world sitting on the bench. 

"Teams with Champions League winners sitting on their bench. We are not at that level yet." 

Chelsea have dropped points in half of their 12 games this term but are within touching distance of first place, with Tottenham and Liverpool - the top two - meeting on Wednesday.

The Reds were held by Fulham on Sunday and have already dropped 11 points this term - as many as they lost in their first 35 games in last term's title-winning campaign.

Lampard acknowledges a far lower points tally will be enough to win the title this term and hopes Chelsea can be in the mix come the business end of proceedings.

"That's where we're at this season," he said. "We felt it first hand against Everton - they've got good players, invested well, good manager, well organised and made it difficult. 

"Watching the games on Sunday, you could see that all over the place. The league is getting tighter, teams are strengthening and becoming well organised. 

"I felt our preparations coming into the season were the difference. We've already lost points we normally wouldn't have. 

"Everyone will feel that and the total number of points will be fewer. We have to make sure we maintain our levels and improve."

Chelsea head to Wolves on Tuesday aiming to avoid back-to-back Premier League defeats for the first time since December 2019, the first of which was away at Everton.

Only against Liverpool (10) have Wolves lost more times in the competition than they have versus Chelsea (nine), and they enter the game on the back of successive losses without scoring since Raul Jimenez sustained a horror skull fracture against Arsenal.

The Mexico striker returned to the club's training ground last week, though, and Lampard - who witnessed ex-team-mate Petr Cech suffer a similar injury during his playing days - expects Wolves to be lifted for their midweek clash.

"I saw Jimenez back at the training ground in the week and that will almost galvanise the group and give them strength," he said. 

"Team-mates worry about injuries anyway - it's difficult when you're ruled out - and even more so in this case when it is threatening to your health. 

"So I think it will make them stronger but they're missing a great player at the same time. It's a difficult situation, one I don't like to see. I'd rather play Wolves with a fit and healthy Jimenez because he's a great player."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard intends to stick with his favoured 4-3-3 formation against Wolves despite potentially being without three wingers.

Lampard has used that system throughout the campaign and the Blues were unbeaten in 14 games prior to Saturday's 1-0 Premier League loss at Everton.

Chelsea were without Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic at Goodison Park, so Timo Werner and Kai Havertz started out wide and had little impact on the game.

Ziyech and Hudson-Odoi will play no part in Wednesday's trip to Wolves, while Pulisic is included in the squad but not over a hamstring issue, though Lampard will not change his formation.

"That is not something we will do in the short term, no. We've been playing really well," he said at Monday's pre-match news conference. 

"Hakim has certainly been very pivotal and Callum when he's been playing has done well and all of a sudden we are very short on wingers. But we have capabilities to still play. 

"It wasn't the formation that we didn't get right at the weekend, it was the way we executed it, which we have players that can definitely comfortably do that. So we just need to improve on the weekend."

Asked if Pulisic has a chance of playing, Lampard said: "He trained on the day we played against Everton and he felt better so he is in the squad for tomorrow. 

"It is yet to be decided whether he starts or not but it is positive news from where it was at the weekend."

Chelsea had 72 per cent of the ball against Everton but failed to register a shot on target in the second half, their last effort coming from defender Kurt Zouma after 28 minutes.

Lampard conceded after the game his side did not have the answers to break down their opponents, not helped by the absence of Ziyech.

Chelsea have won four and drawn one of the five league games Ziyech has started this season for a win rate of 80 per cent, compared to 28.6 per cent - two wins, three draws, two losses - in the seven games he has not started.

But Lampard insisted he has other players in his squad capable of stepping up to fill the void of the Morocco international, who is expected to return from a thigh injury in the next fortnight.

"The Premier League is unforgiving," he said. "We saw that with different results over the weekend and we see it pretty much every weekend and matchday. 

"We weren't at our top level on Saturday and we got beaten. That's it. We've been on a long unbeaten run, playing some really good football as well as winning games. 

"We dropped our level for a game. That's absolutely on us to pick it up again straight away."

He added: "What we have to come to terms with, it felt like Everton played very similar to how Tottenham played against us a couple of weeks ago and if people are watching us of course they will to stop us from doing what we've been doing well. 

"It's on us to find other ways. We didn't move the ball quickly enough as a team to hit the sides to maybe turn them around.

"So I think we just need to understand that when teams make it difficult for us, we have to have ways to get round that. Our level dropped.

"If we'd been at our top level we would have found a way to get round that. I certainly accept this group of players going so long unbeaten that there is one game that feels like that. 

"And we can't really make any excuse of not having the wingers. It is unfortunate in the short term. I think we have players capable of playing in those areas so I don't want to hang on that one. Hopefully the wingers are all back soon anyway."

Chelsea were paired with Atletico Madrid in Monday's Champions League last-16 draw and Lampard acknowledged his side have a huge task on their hands if they are to progress.

"Most people will say it's the toughest draw we could have had when you go off current form, how they are doing in LaLiga, European experience and the quality of the team and players

"On the other hand, all draws are difficult in the Champions League. We have to have belief in ourselves when that game comes around. You have to beat these teams if you're going to win the Champions League. It is what it is.

"I watched them knock Liverpool out last year. They are obviously a great team with experience and quality in the squad. Most people would say that they were one of the toughest we could have drawn on paper. We have to turn up and do our job."

Juventus are planning their move for Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Pogba's future is again a major talking point after his agent, Mino Raiola, said the France international wanted to leave Old Trafford.

A return to Juve has been touted, and the Serie A champions are seemingly ready to make it happen.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS HOPING FOR POGBA LOAN DEAL

Juventus want Pogba to return to the club from Manchester United on loan next month, according to the Mirror.

The report says the move would include an obligation to buy Pogba, who is contracted until 2022, ahead of next season.

Pogba joined United from Juve for a reported £89million (€105m) fee in 2016.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona are still eyeing Georginio Wijnaldum. Mundo Deportivo reports Ronald Koeman wants the Liverpool midfielder, who is out of contract at season's end, but a deal in January appears too difficult.

- Also set to become a free agent is Bayern Munich defender David Alaba. Marca reports Real Madrid are strongly considering the Austria international, who wants to join the LaLiga giants.

- Struggling for game time at Tottenham, Dele Alli looks set for an exit. The Telegraph reports the midfielder will be allowed to leave in January, with Paris Saint-Germain said to be interested.

- Oleksandr Zinchenko is also battling for minutes at Manchester City. The Daily Star reports Wolves are ready to renew their interest in the defender.

All eyes were on Old Trafford for Saturday's Manchester derby, though the 0-0 draw was ultimately a rather duller affair than many expected.

But at the very least, the draw actually took them a point closer to one of the title favourites in Chelsea, who suffered a shock defeat to an Everton side who had been struggling badly in recent weeks.

Newcastle United piled on the misery for West Brom with a late winner, while Aston Villa claimed a trademark – yes, that's right, and you'll soon understand why – victory at Wolves to continue their fine campaign.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts from Saturday's action in the Premier League.

Everton 1-0 Chelsea: The pupil downed by the master

In recent weeks there has been plenty of talk about Chelsea being not just title challengers, but maybe even favourites. Such chatter will have been a little quieter after this.

Frank Lampard came up against one of his former Chelsea managers at Goodison Park, with Carlo Ancelotti arguably the coach to get the very best out of the former England international.

After all, Lampard scored 32 times in 60 Premier League appearances under the Italian – by comparison, he netted 49 in 140 matches for Jose Mourinho.

Nevertheless, Lampard will have undoubtedly been frustrated on Merseyside. This was his second defeat in 12 managerial games across all competitions against his former bosses, the other loss coming against Manuel Pellegrini last season.

It was a somewhat limp and unimaginative performance by the Blues, who failed to even register a single shot on target after the 28th minute despite having 72 per cent of the possession.

Manchester United 0-0 Manchester City: Derby fails to live up to expectations

Neutrals always expect fireworks from the Manchester derby, but sadly on this occasion it was something of a damp squib and just the fifth goalless draw between the two giants in 47 Premier League meetings.

It was the third home league game this term in which United have failed to score, already one more than in the whole of last season.

City's lack of activity in front of goal – compared to their usual standards – was particularly notable, as Pep Guardiola's side managed just nine shots in total. Three of their previous four instances of attempting fewer than 10 shots in a Premier League away game have been at Old Trafford.

The stalemate also meant Raheem Sterling's remarkable record against United continued. In 17 Premier League meetings with the Red Devils, he is still yet to score – that is over 10 more games than he has faced any other team in the competition without finding the net.

Wolves 0-1 Aston Villa: Villans doing the business on the road

Aston Villa's brilliant form on the road shows no sign of stopping, with their 1-0 win at local rivals Wolves taking them to four away victories out of five this season.

Their 12 points picked up away from Villa Park is already one more than they managed in the entirety of last season, and they still have another 14 trips to make.

But let's not get carried away with this latest one – it wasn't pretty. There were a total of 38 fouls in this game (23 Wolves, 15 Villa) and the visitors' winner came right at the end.

Anwar El Ghazi got it in stoppage time, making it the fourth time they have scored a winner in the 90th minute or later since the start of last season. No other team has done so more than twice.

As for Wolves, Adama Traore's difficult spell stutters on. He was facing one of his former teams, but his inability to get a goal or assist means it is 19 league games since his last goal involvement, having contributed to nine in the 19 top-flight matches before that.

Newcastle United 2-1 West Brom: Magpies making the most of every minute

Steve Bruce's Newcastle may not be the most thrilling of sides to watch, but they cannot be accused of lacking spirit in the dying embers of matches.

They left it late against the Baggies on Saturday, with Dwight Gayle getting the winner eight minutes from time, the eighth time this term Newcastle have netted in the final quarter-of-an-hour of games.

That equates to 57 per cent of their 14 Premier League goals and, as you might expect, it is the highest proportion of a team's total in England's top flight in 2020-21.

But, impressively, Newcastle aren't just leaving it until the end. Miguel Almiron opened the scoring on Saturday after just 19 seconds. That's their second-fastest Premier League goal ever after Alan Shearer required only 10 seconds against Manchester City in January 2003.

There is little to be positive about for West Brom, however, as Slaven Bilic's men became the first team to concede 25 goals in the Premier League this season.

Raul Jimenez vowed he will "soon" be back in action for Wolves as he thanked Led Zeppelin rocker Robert Plant for his support.

The Mexican forward suffered a serious head injury in the 2-1 win at Arsenal on November 29 after colliding with home defender David Luiz.

Jimenez underwent around 10 minutes of medical attention on the field before he was carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital for checks. 

It was discovered the 29-year-old had suffered a fracture to his skull, leading to an operation.

However, Jimenez was able to return home last weekend, and he is already looking forward to getting back to football.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has expressed caution, but fans of the club, including lifelong supporter Plant, will hope to see him back in the black and gold shirt before long.

Plant wrote on Twitter at the start of December: "COME ON RAUL.."

Responding on Friday to the Whole Lotta Love singer, Jimenez said: "Thank you, I'm gonna be back soon."

He added thumbs-up and muscle emojis to the message.

Wolves tweeted a series of four pictures on Thursday that showed Jimenez back at the club's Compton Park training ground, embracing team-mates.

Jimenez also posted pictures of himself with his family, writing: "Happy to be back home, together we will overcome any adversity."

Paul Pogba could reportedly leave Manchester United as early as next month, while Zinedine Zidane is said to be eyeing a Real Madrid exit.

Pogba's future has again become a talking point at United after his agent, Mino Raiola, said the midfielder wanted to leave.

And the Premier League giants may be ready to make it happen.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD WANT TO SELL POGBA IN JANUARY

Manchester United want to sell Pogba in January after Raiola's latest outburst, according to The Sun.

It comes after ESPN reported the Premier League giants doubted whether Juventus or Real Madrid – the clubs the France international has been most heavily linked to – could afford the 27-year-old.

Pogba came off the bench as United were knocked out of the Champions League with a 3-2 loss to RB Leipzig on Tuesday.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid managed to reach the last 16 to ease the pressure on head coach Zidane. However, Diario Gol reports Zidane has made it clear to Madrid president Florentino Perez he is likely to leave at the end of the season, regardless of what happens. The report says Zidane was promised the signings of Pogba, Liverpool star Sadio Mane and Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga.

- Under pressure, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's future at Manchester United is uncertain. But the Daily Mail reports United will back the manager despite their Champions League exit and the availability of Mauricio Pochettino. Meanwhile, Sky Sports says United are interested in Atletico Madrid right-back Kieran Trippier.

- David Alaba seems certain to leave Bayern Munich at the end of his contract after the 2020-21 season. Bild reports Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are on the shortlist of destinations for the defender.

- Could Frenkie de Jong leave Barcelona after just two seasons at the club? Mundo Deportivo reports Bayern Munich are in contact with the midfielder's agent regarding a possible move. De Jong joined Barca from Ajax for a reported initial fee of €75million in 2019, and he re-signed with the club in October until 2026.

- Eric Garcia has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona, but it seems there is also interest from elsewhere. The Sun reports Arsenal are tracking the defender, who is out of contract at Manchester City at the end of the season.

- Arsenal and Wolves are monitoring Maxi Gomez's situation at Valencia, according to the Daily Mail, which says Valencia could sell the forward in January or at season's end as they look to raise funds.

It was a Premier League weekend when fans returned to grounds and witnessed victories full of swagger for potential title contenders.

Table-topping Tottenham are starting to look like they might go the distance under Jose Mourinho after the prolific partnership between Harry Kane and Son Heung-min made Arsenal's forward line look second rate.

Liverpool returned to winning ways with a confident victory over Wolves at Anfield, this time video technology working in their favour when a penalty given against Sadio Mane was overturned at a key moment.

Manchester City strung together back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season, against Fulham, in Pep Guardiola's 250th match in charge of the club while Chelsea briefly went top of the table as Frank Lampard got the better of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United.

Manchester United once again showed their ability to come from behind, as yet again they claimed an away-day victory after trailing. Even Paul Pogba managed to get on the scoresheet.

Away from the major topics of discussion to emerge over the past few days, we use Opta stats to pinpoint some of the quirkier talking points.

 

Jose's big-game counter-attack plan

Mikel Arteta blamed the lack of cutting edge from his Arsenal players up front as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in the north London derby where Mourinho's side counter-attacked to great effect.

The Gunners certainly saw plenty of the ball during the match (69.8 per cent to Spurs' 30.2), however, this was the 11th time a Mourinho-led side has had 35 per cent possession or lower in a Premier League match.

Mourinho has won nine of those 11 games, although interestingly the two matches he has not claimed have also come in particularly high-profile encounters when he also tried to sit back and hit on the break.

As United manager in 2017, the Red Devils drew 0-0 with Guardiola's City and in 2020 as Spurs head coach he suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Liverpool.

Gini enjoys home comforts

Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum's contract situation might be uppermost in the thoughts of many Anfield regulars, given his love of a goal on home turf.

Wijnaldum has scored 26 Premier League goals, and 23 have come at home (88.5 per cent), the highest ratio scored on home soil of any player with 20-plus goals in the competition's history.

Another midfielder, retired former United star Michael Carrick, is next on that list behind the Dutchman with 20 of his 24 goals scored at home at the rate of 83.3 per cent.

But which player is better on the road? Well, former Sunderland and Leeds United forward Michael Bridges tops that list with 15 of his 22 Premier League goals (68.2 per cent) scored away from home.

Sterling pound for pound the best penalty winner

Kevin De Bruyne confidently converted Manchester City's second goal from the penalty spot in a 2-0 win over Fulham on Saturday, but he possibly only gave a brief thought for the player who won it.

When Raheem Sterling was upended by Fulham's Joachim Andersen, he became the first player to win 20 penalties in the Premier League.

The next player behind Sterling is Leicester City's Jamie Vardy – who has won 19 penalties. But with Vardy aged 33 and Sterling eight years' younger at 25 it looks like the Manchester City man be good to win a few more spot-kicks in years to come.

Manchester City are currently ranked seventh in the Premier League for penalties won having been awarded 124 spot-kicks.

Solskjaer's super subs love a fightback

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was synonymous with inspiring United fightbacks as a player, often coming from the bench to do so, so it should be no surprise he gets calls right with substitutes as a manager.

All three of United's substitutes (Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Juan Mata) were directly involved in a goal in their 3-1 win over West Ham.

This is just the second time this has happened for the Red Devils in a Premier League game – previously in August 2017 versus Leicester (Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini).

The Red Devils have also now won more points from losing positions than any other team in Premier League history (385), ahead of Tottenham (383), Arsenal (356), Liverpool (336) and Chelsea (335).

Jurgen Klopp hailed a "perfect" night as Liverpool welcomed supporters back to Anfield with a 4-0 thrashing of Wolves.

With the city of Liverpool having recently been placed in Tier 2 of the UK government's tiered restriction system, 2,000 fans were allowed to attend Sunday's game.

It was the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic that fans were allowed to attend matches.

Liverpool were crowned league champions for the first time in 30 years in June, but lifted the trophy at Anfield in July behind closed doors.

And Klopp had nothing but positive things to say after the match having seen his players treat those in attendance to a fine performance.

"It was a really perfect night, to be honest," the Liverpool manager told Amazon Prime Sport.

"If 10 months ago somebody would have told us we had a home game and only 2,000 people will show up we would have thought, 'Okay, proper crisis, the football must be really bad'. 

"And now tonight it was so enjoyable, it was so nice. We came out for warming up and we all had goosebumps, it was like 'Oh my God!' 

"I said to the boys in the meeting before that we will have no idea how it will be, so if it's good we have to use it, and if it's bad we have to ignore it. So that's how it is. 

"It was much better [than I hoped], it was perfect, the noise what people did. They were on their toes, you could see and feel and pretty much smell that they waited so long for it. 

"All of them here, the Kop and the Main Stand, were here to support a football team."

Liverpool claimed an emphatic victory thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum, Joel Matip'and an own goal from Wolves' Nelson Semedo.

Klopp went on to agree that the return of fans had helped inspire his players on to greater heights in the second half of what had - in its earlier stages at least - been a cagey encounter.

He continued: "We are so used to playing without a crowd. Each little positive that you can get in this moment in life in general is nice. 

"When you read in the newspaper that the vaccine would come it was like, whatever weather was outside, the sun was shining for all of us. 

"And so it was tonight in the second half, it's so much more enjoyable when the people are involved.

"This game would not be the game we all love if we played it always without supporters, but we have to do it in the moment. 

"If there's any sense in it, then it's only that we appreciate these things: 2,000 or 3,000 and hopefully 4,000, 5m000 and 6,000 in the next few weeks and months. 

"Normality is coming back and you appreciate that even more."

Jurgen Klopp is still hopeful that Georginio Wijnaldum will put pen to paper on a new Liverpool contract.

The Dutchman is into the final year of the deal he signed following his 2016 arrival from Newcastle United and will be free to talk to other clubs from January.

Barcelona were credited with an interest over the summer – their coach Ronald Koeman having worked successfully with Wijnaldum during his stint as Netherlands boss.

However, after seeing the former PSV midfielder score a beautiful curler as Liverpool ran out 4-0 winners against Wolves on Sunday, Klopp revealed that he has not given up on the idea of keeping the player at Anfield.

Asked about that prospect, the German told Amazon Prime Sport: "I hope so, to be honest. 

"You can see that he plays all the time, he plays pretty long when he's on the pitch, all this kind of stuff. We have a very good relationship. I hope so."

Wijnaldum has scored 26 Premier League goals in total since his move to Newcastle in 2015, with 23 of these coming at home.

That equates to a percentage of 88.5 – the highest ratio scored on home soil of any player with 20 or more goals in the history of the competition.

When asked about any potential talks over a new deal, Wijnaldum told Amazon Prime Sport: "I already said in my previous interviews, I don't speak about my contract situation, I speak about the games, performances, football. 

"The club should speak about my contract."

Liverpool's win took them level on points with Tottenham at the top of the Premier League, with Jose Mourinho's side having defeated Arsenal 2-0 earlier on Sunday.

The champions have, who were playing in front of a crowd for the first time since March as 2,000 fans were allowed to attend following the easing of lockdown restrictions in Liverpool, won 31 of their last 32 home league games, drawing the other and scoring 93 goals while conceding just 25 in a remarkable run.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has singled out Chelsea as the favourites to win the Premier League title due to the "unbelievable" depth of Frank Lampard's squad.

The Blues ended a day top of the table for the first time since September 2018 thanks to Saturday's hard-fought 3-1 comeback win over Leeds United.

They have won four of their last five top-flight matches and are on the division's longest unbeaten run of nine games, having also topped their Champions League group.

And with Chelsea's myriad of new signings quickly settling in, Klopp believes the west London side are now the team to finish above if Liverpool are to retain their title.

"I don't feel in the moment that we chase anybody or somebody chases us," said Klopp ahead of Sunday's home clash with Wolves.

"If I watch football games I see Tottenham is obviously doing pretty well, that Chelsea for me in the moment looks like the favourite - bigger squad, great players, play football. 

"Now they are full in and have unbelievable opportunities to change between the games and from one game to the other. That's it. You watch it but we don't chase them. 

"We play them when we play them and that was how we saw it last year as well. Pressure is there but it's about yourself. The pressure is there to win the game and we want to win against Wolves. We play only Wolves and nobody else.

"It's always like this. It's much too early to think about who is ahead of who or whatever. It's just the situation.

"I said it before, this season is not about setting a target and going for it, it's about getting through it with the best possible football you can play - and that's what we try to do. 

"That differs from weekend to midweek sometimes because of some circumstances, but it's still the target for us all the time. Be fully focused on the next game, the next opponent, especially not that early about other results."

Liverpool and Tottenham trail Chelsea by a point with a game in hand to play on Sunday in what is shaping up to be a tight battle for the title.

The reigning champions face a potentially difficult test against Wolves in what will be a reunion with his former club for in-form forward Diogo Jota.

He is looking to become the fourth player to score in each of his first five home Premier League matches for a club, along with Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand (both Newcastle) and Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth).

Jota's impressive start to life at Anfield has allowed Klopp to give his previously established front three trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane a breather at times.

And Klopp feels his side now have an advantage they did not have in their title-winning campaign thanks to the Portugal international.

"He's doing exceptionally well at the moment, absolutely. But to keep that standard we have to work really hard, we have to keep him in a good shape, score goals because the other boys do that usually," he said. 

"That's clear. For us, the most important thing was that we don't have to bite our nails pretty much in each game and hope they somehow come through and we can bring them in the next game again - especially not in this season. 

"That's not a real lateral situation because it's only one player and, how I said, it's the only line - the front three line - where we have more players than we can line up in one game, I would say. 

"All other positions are pretty much, who can walk will play or will be a kid. Both is fine. But there's nothing bad in that situation. Who they are, they wouldn't be where they are if they couldn't deal with a situation like that. 

"They are completely fine with Diogo and Diogo is fine with them. They are overly happy that he had that brilliant start, as I am obviously. But now that's already gone and we have to carry on." 

Liverpool have lost just one of their 12 Premier League meetings with Wolves (W9 D2), winning each of the last seven in a row by an aggregate score of 15-2.

Liverpool supporters will have their first opportunity to acclaim last season's champions when Wolves visit on Sunday, and perhaps Diogo Jota will briefly have to take a back seat for the first time since his Anfield arrival.

A crowd of 2,000 is expected on the first weekend since March that fans have been allowed into Premier League grounds, with Liverpool having scooped the title during the pandemic lockdown months, ending a 30-year wait.

It means those players who drove Jurgen Klopp's side to glory will be the focus for many, but Jota has made such an impact since arriving to strengthen the ranks that he is unlikely to go unappreciated.

Given Wolves are his former club, the evening clash is bound to be a special occasion too for the Portuguese forward, who has made a dazzling impact in his short time at Liverpool.

Live and let Diogo

With a goal on average every 96.8 minutes in the Premier League - five in 484 minutes - Jota cannot be accused of being a slouch in getting off the mark in his Anfield career.

He has nine goals in 15 appearances across all competitions, and only three players have ever made faster starts with the Reds over the same span of games - Robbie Fowler (12 goals), Daniel Sturridge (11) and Cyril Done (10), a post-war poacher who later played at Tranmere and Port Vale.

Of the players set to be on show on Sunday, Jota has the best goals-per-minute record in the top flight this term, although team-mate Mohamed Salah (97.88) runs him close. 

Wolves have nobody who can touch those numbers, with their leading scorer Raul Jimenez (four league goals at one every 206 minutes) ruled out of the trip after the serious head injury he sustained last week in the victory at Arsenal.

Jota was only scoring at one goal every 328 minutes last season with Wolves in the Premier League, making these early-season efforts for Liverpool all the more eye-catching.

Already the first player in the club's history to score in each of his first four home league games, could he extend that to five?

Only three players have scored in their first five home games for a specific club in the Premier League - with Jota looking to follow Jermain Defoe for Portsmouth (five successive games), and the Newcastle United pair of Les Ferdinand (six games) and the remarkable Alan Shearer (15 home games in a row).

What a carry on!

Opta defines a carry as any movement of the ball by a player which is greater than five metres from where they received the ball.

Jota brings value in this important area, but these are early days in his Liverpool career and his impact may be more recognisable later in the campaign.

He has had 78 carries so far, which is exactly the same number as Roberto Firmino, his apparent chief rival for a regular start.

Firmino has played 319 more minutes than Jota in the Premier League, however, and has an average of only 8.7 carries per 90 minutes, against Jota's 14.5, which is an increase of 0.2 on his number with Wolves last season.

Sadio Mane manages an average of 15.8 carries per 90 minutes, while Salah is producing 13.4 carries across the same time span.

Jota's carry distance per 90 minutes stands at 186.6 metres, compared to 199.2 with Wolves in 2019-20, and his carry progress upfield per 90 minutes has dipped from 149.8m last term to 109.5m in Klopp's team, but that differential may be because of an adjustment in his role and responsibilities.

Liverpool's top three ball carriers this season, in terms of their average number per 90 minutes, have been Jordan Henderson (20.8), Joe Gomez (18.6) and Andrew Robertson (17.6).

Heads-up on a Liverpool weakness?

What might be remarkable, looking at Liverpool's four main attackers, is who has been winning the most headers this season.

Mane leaves Jota lagging in this department, winning 15 of 28 aerial battles compared to four of 22 for the new boy, who stands a good inch taller than the 5ft 9in Senegalese forward. Mane won only 41 of 116 such duels last season, suggesting he has found an extra spring in the early months of this campaign.

It is not an area where Liverpool's current group of forwards excel, with Firmino (winning three out of 27) and Salah (two of 16) also easily bossed around in the air.

Jota's left-right shuffle

Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo used Jota mainly as a left-sided forward, and his touchmap from last season compared to this shows how his role at Liverpool has differed.

In 2019-20, Jota had 44.74 per cent of his touches in the left third of Wolves' attacking half of the field, and a mere 7.65 per cent on the right third of the opposition half.

Given he has figured in roles across Klopp's frontline so far, it is no surprise to see Jota seeing plenty of action in areas of the pitch he rarely visited in Wolves' black and gold.

This term he has had 34.41 per cent of touches in that same left channel in the opponents' half, plus 19.89 per cent in the corresponding corridor down the right.

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Wolves at the door

For all the excitement about the return of fans to Anfield, the visiting team are not to be underestimated.

Wolves are enjoying their best start to a Premier League season, having gathered a healthy 17 points from 10 games so far.

Nuno has led his side to back-to-back seventh-placed finishes, and the gutsy win at Arsenal last week – when the team found focus despite losing Jimenez to injury early on – showed that they have ample spirit to accompany undeniable quality.

Georginio Wijnaldum says Diogo Jota is proving to be an even better acquisition than Liverpool thought he would be.

Jota has been a revelation since joining from Wolves in September for a reported £41million, scoring nine goals in 15 appearances across all competitions. 

He is already well on course to overtake his total Premier League tally of seven from last season, with five goals from as many starts in the English top flight so far this campaign. 

Jota is aiming to become just the fourth player to score in his first five home games for a club in the Premier League when his former side Wolves visit Anfield on Sunday. 

Wijnaldum is in no doubt Jota – who scored 16 goals in 67 Premier League appearances for Wolves – will revel in the occasion given his stunning start to life with Jurgen Klopp's champions. 

"It's going to be a really, really big game for him and also a game he can enjoy," the Netherlands international told Liverpool's official website. 

"I'm always happy when I play against Newcastle because that's my only other team [in the Premier League]. For him I think it's different because he played more seasons for Wolves than I played for Newcastle. 

"I'm really impressed because I already knew how good he was, but now I can see that he's even better than what we thought of him.

"Now we train with him, we play games with him, so we can really see what kind of player he is, what kind of quality player he is. 

"I think he's showed it with the start he's had at the club."

Jota has not enjoyed much time on the pitch with influential defender Virgil van Dijk after he suffered knee ligament damage in October's Merseyside derby against Everton following a forceful challenge from Jordan Pickford.

The 29-year-old underwent a successful operation, but he could ultimately miss the rest of the club season and even next year's delayed Euro 2020.

Wijnaldum, who admits he struggled to find the right words to say to his compatriot in the immediate aftermath of his injury, revealed Van Dijk is in a positive frame of mind regarding his recovery. 

"He deals well with the situation and is positive about it," he added. "We call quite often now because I know that I can.

"But in the beginning for me it was a bit like, 'Can I call him or not?' because I can understand that in the situation he was in you also want a little bit of rest and moments for yourself. 

"In the beginning it was a little bit of searching for the right way to approach him. But now it goes really well."

Jurgen Klopp insisted Liverpool would not use injuries as an excuse, saying the club's status meant they were still expected to win.

Liverpool have endured an injury crisis to begin the season, but are second in the Premier League and have reached the last 16 in the Champions League.

In a boost, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Naby Keita returned to training on Friday, two days before the champions host Wolves.

Klopp said there were no excuses for Liverpool, pointing to expectations of the club despite their injury woes.

"Whoever is available, we are still Liverpool. That's how we see it. It means we want to win the game," the Liverpool manager told reporters.

"Actually, I think most of the people think we have to win the game. You can see that when you speak before a game, or after a game, people don't talk about [who is available] – he is not available, he is not available, yes, yes, no – nobody really would allow you to use such a situation as an excuse. And we don't, we don't.

"The situation is tough, 100 per cent, but we are at matchday – where are we, nine, 10 coming? Not sure. So, it feels quite long already but it's not even a third of the season.

"So, who cares who is where in the moment. We try to play football. We won some games, drew in others, lost one massively. So, that's the job."

Liverpool are on the second longest unbeaten home run in English top-flight history (64 games) ahead of hosting Wolves at Anfield.

However, they have dropped more points from winning positions this season (six) than they did in the whole of last campaign (five).

Klopp, who has been critical of the Premier League over its refusal to sanction five substitutions, believes the busy period to finish the year and begin 2021 will see even more teams face injury worries.

"This is not a season where you throw a target – at the start of the season – on the table and say we have to be here or there. Everybody tries to come through. Everybody. Some teams are obviously, so far, more lucky with injuries than others. That is the situation," he said.

"But I am pretty sure that it will level off over the season because it is just incredibly intense for the boys. The most intense period starts for all teams. So far it was massively intense for all the teams involved in European football.

"From now on, we play all three days. And all the teams will have to do that. So, some teams will realise now how tough it is. That's why we have still [got] to talk about the five subs, even though we didn't vote yesterday."

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo insists it is too early to know when forward Raul Jimenez will be able to play again but his progress has been "positive". 

Jimenez suffered a sickening injury in the fifth minute of Wolves' 2-1 win over Arsenal in the Premier League at Emirates Stadium last Sunday. 

The Mexico international was involved in an aerial duel with Arsenal defender David Luiz and the pair clashed heads. 

Jimenez required around 10 minutes of medical attention on the field before he was eventually carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital for checks. 

It was discovered the 29-year-old had suffered a fracture to his skull, leading to an operation. 

"We have positive news. He is recovering well with his family," Nuno told a media conference on Friday ahead of the trip to Liverpool. 

"It's positive, but no doubt that it's a serious situation. He's still in observation and soon he will be back home. 

"It’s too early and it’s not the moment to even think about [Raul returning]. He must get back to his normal life and everything else. 

"It was very serious and everybody was afraid of the situation. Everybody was worried but as the days go by, with the positive news, we’ve been able to return to a normal situation. 

"We will deal with that how we should do and give Raul time to return safely to the group again."

Nuno added his name to the list of those calling for concussion substitutes to be introduced into the Premier League. 

Trials for concussion replacements are set to begin in English football next season, allowing teams a temporary replacement for a player who suffers a head injury. 

Arsenal were criticised for allowing David Luiz to play on during the match against Wolves, though the defender was substituted at half-time. 

"There should be concussion substitutes," said the Wolves head coach. "It is obvious everyone in the game supports this and I am positive this is going to happen." 

Nuno also thanked the Wolves fans for their response to Jimenez's injury, with the club inundated with messages of support. 

The club's supporters also raised £7,500 in two hours for a giant flag for the Mexican which will be displayed at Molineux. 

"I am not surprised about the reaction. Raul means a lot to this city," he added 

"All the things you can say about Raul is not enough because he is an amazing person. Everything goes through your mind when you see someone you love and appreciate in a tough situation. 

"He means so much to us. It is like when someone in the family gets ill."

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