Postmortem: Liverpool Finally Overcome Wasteful Wolves

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Wolves 1 – 3 Liverpool – The Postmortem

This was the first game back after the initial international break of the season, with TNT / BT Sport once again requesting Liverpool be the team in their Saturday 12.30pm slot. This familiar kick off time was widely condemned by Jürgen Klopp in the pre match press conference, as he bemoaned the fact that his South American contingent would be arriving back so close to this game. The starting lineup was probably what was expected, with only Alexis Mac Allister starting as one of those jet setting returnees.

The Starting Eleven

  • Alisson Becker
  • Joe Gomez
  • Jarell Quansah
  • Joël Matip
  • Andy Robertson (c)
  • Alexis Mac Allister
  • Dominik Szoboszlai
  • Curtis Jones
  • Mohamed Salah
  • Cody Gakpo
  • Diogo Jota

Substitutions

  • Luis Díaz replaced Alexis Mac Allister (45 mins)
  • Darwin Núñez for Diogo Jota (56 mins)
  • Harvey Elliott for Cody Gakpo (56 mins)
  • Ibrahima Konaté for Jarell Quansah (83 mins)
  • Ryan Gravenberch for Mohamed Salah (93 mins)

Goals

  • Wolves 1 – 0 Liverpool: Hwang Hee-chan (assisted by Pedro Neto) at 7 mins
  • Wolves 1 – 1 Liverpool: Cody Gakpo (assisted by Mohamed Salah) at 55 mins
  • Wolves 1 – 2 Liverpool: Andy Robertson (assisted by Mohamed Salah) at 85 mins
  • Wolves 1 – 3 Liverpool: Hugo Bueno (Own Goal) at 91 mins

The First Half

This opening period felt so much like what we consistently saw last season. A disjointed and uncoordinated set up (by the visitors) allowed the home team to swarm from both wide areas, whilst still being able to drive through the central zones. The lack of a defensive midfielder was so apparent, as the screening limitations in Mac Allister’s midfield game meant he was a common target for the vibrant Wolves counters. In not having Trent to operate in his customary hybrid scheme, it left Joe Gomez struggling to imitate that role without leaving vast amounts of space for Pedro Neto to exploit. Each on-coming attack was quick and decisive, which led to an early goal for Gary O’Neil’s enthusiastic team. Our Brazilian keeper could do nothing to stop the low drive, as the score soon reflected the early pressure from Wolves.

The remainder of the half really felt like hanging on for dear life, with the hope that the reds German manager would make the required changes at the break. Chances and space continued to be exploited by the energetic Molineux team, as their Andy Robertson led opponents did little to impact the game. Half time could not arrive quick enough.

The Second Half

On resumption of the second half, our Colombian flyer, Luis Díaz, was drafted into the game. His explosive ability was apparent from the restart, as Liverpool adopted a 4-4-2 system of play. In taking our Argentina midfield, Alexis, out of the firing line, it allowed a more prominent and direct pattern of play to unfold. A middle double divot of Curtis and Dom outran their adversaries, as the Hungarian took control of the match. Shortly before the next two changes, the inevitable equaliser emerged, as the departing Gakpo slotted in from close range, after an incisive low cross from Salah found him at the back post. In that moment, our former Dortmund manager stuck to his desired changes and brought in Harvey Elliott and Darwin for the underperforming Jota and Gakpo. Our Egyptian King was then moved slightly inside, to allow Harvey the right flank. The rejuvenation in the team continued and the domination of the away team was a complete turnaround from the inept performance of the first half.

With continual moments and possession heavily in Liverpool’s favour, eventually the stand in skipper, Andy Robertson, was able to produce a terrific run and one-two with his number 11, before firing under José Sá with a clinical strike. The match result was confirmed a few minutes later, as a shot from the very impressive Elliott, deflected its way onto the post and into the net.

Mohamed Salah’s Milestone 200 – Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 200 goals (139 goals, 61 assists) in 223 games for Liverpool in the Premier League, with only Thierry Henry reaching this milestone in fewer appearances for a single club in the competition (206 games for Arsenal). Incessant.

Final Thoughts

This was dubbed the Jekyll and Hyde affair by the Post Match Raw boys, which was a fitting description for what occurred. My own view was appreciation of how our manager proactively altered his team’s approach, formation, and players, in order to secure a very good victory. So many occasions have seen a stuttering match left to wither, yet the summer of change has now brought more viable options to the German coach’s plate. Character and determination were in abundance within a fine second half showing, which brought the vital three points onto the reds Premier League tally.

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