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Football News: Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective
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Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective


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That was a difficult watch, Liverpool were creating opportunities but they were wasting them, while Wolves played like a bottom half relegation scrapper just looking to hold out for a point or maybe get lucky on the break and snatch a win. Those kind of games are really tedious to watch. Though there is some enjoyment to be had out of watching a team defend well, that is when it is in open play for me. Sitting in deep, in packed ranks, for most of the game is not enjoyable to me.

It is down to Liverpool to take their opportunities early and force the other team to come out of their shell. Sadly they failed to do so and that meant a long 90minutes of players rolling back onto the field for treatment, when they should have just been told to get off the pitch by a referee who was too weak or clueless to do so. That kind of tedious timewasting is something that really is so easy to remove from the game. If they are healthy enough to think to get back on the pitch when they are 'injured', then they clearly are not hurt badly enough to need treatment. So play on and ignore them, they will soon jump up and get on with the game.

Other than that, there is not really a lot to pick out of the game, it was a bit of a snoozefest until the winner went in. Most of Wolves' opportunities fell at the feet of Traore, so you knew it was going to be a fail at the end of it. In fact there was little jeopardy in the game at all from a Liverpool point of view, other than whether they would score a winner or not. They did not have the feel of a team that had the capability or belief to go and grab a winner themselves.


Wolverhampton Wanderers


After being lauded as an attacking coach following his appointment, Lage was swift to revert to a Nuno-like counter-attacking system after a couple of disappointing results early doors. It is understandable playing that way against Liverpool, who came into the game on the back of three wins where they scored four goals in each. You do have to wonder how far playing this way can take them. They do not have the quality up front to rely on them to snatch goals every week, so it is always going to be a struggle to get the results they need if they are to nail down a European place.

Admittedly they are not this defensive normally, but not far off, and you have to wonder if this is truly what Lage wants or just the way the players are used to playing and so a natural tendency to drop deep. If this is Lage's choice, then progress is going to be difficult without a huge investment in the playing staff. Certainly Traore is not the answer, his lack of end product is embarrassing. You can pretty much just let him have the ball as the odds of him actually doing something worthwhile are so low.

Jiminez is a very good player and works hard, but a game like yesterday sees him working back too much and rarely being anywhere near a position that he can threaten the goal. It is surprising as the teams that have caused Liverpool problems this season, particularly Brighton & Hove Albion, have done so by being brave and leaving players up. Liverpool take a chance at the back, they will go one-on-one and back their centre-backs, so leaving three up presents them with a problem. I believe that would have been the best chance Wolves had of a win and would still have allowed them to keep seven players in defensive positions.

What did stand out was the performance of the left wing-back, Ait-Nouri, who was exceptional and it was no coincidence that he went off and Salah suddenly got space to play Origi in. But those are the chances you take when you try and defend for your life, it only takes a mistake or a moment of quality from an attacker to undo all the good work of the other 90min. To be fair, most of their defenders played well, but they were never asked to venture out of their zones due to playing so deep and packed in. That allowed them to just hold their positions and look to get in the way of runs or shots, as they often did. However, I would, if I was Lage, be worried about how easily Jota was able to get on the end of chances unmarked, despite the packed defence.




Klopp - I have to say I am not convinced Klopp was entirely right with his choices yesterday, mainly in his choice to take off Henderson rather than Jota. For two reasons, one Jota was having a stinking game and because he is poor at the link up required in the deep-lying position. I know he often pops up with a goal, but dropping him deeper lowers the chances of that happening, so made no sense to me. It just played to his weaknesses rather than his strengths. Personally I think Minamino should have come on to play that role.


Alisson - he was rarely called upon, but was quick to come out when needed. Not the busiest day he has ever had by a long chalk.


Alexander-Arnold - with Salah being effectively shut down, by the left wing-back, the space should have been there for him to attack and put the ball into the box. While he did use it a bit, it was not enough for my liking as his balls in often led to chances. It was not his fault those chances were spurned though!


Matip - I know he is very good with the ball at his feet, but his runs forward are liable to give me a heart attack some day! Matip never seems quite fully in control of the ball when he does it and always on the verge of losing it. In truth, rather than just my nervous perception of it, it was one of the points of danger and often pulled Wolves players out of position. It is just a shame that proper use was not made of the chaos he caused.


van Dijk - one of his lackadaisical games, he gifted the ball away due to not getting to it quickly enough to avoid being put under pressure. I was always taught that you sprint initially to make sure you give yourself time to look around and make sure no one was closing you down. Then you can slow down when you have got a head start. These days it seems defenders stroll over to the ball and only speed up when someone closes them down. Van Dijk was certainly guilty of that at one point and his weak header could easily have lost the game on another day.


Robertson - he was the main point of attack down the left, as Mane kept their right wing-back pushed back, but was unable to create anything much as he was trying to hold his position to a large degree. The threat of Traore's pace in behind him clearly kept him subdued as an attacking force.


Fabinho - not his best game. This was not a game that really required him to be breaking up play too much, which is what he particularly excels at. When he was called upon he was usually there, but there was just not enough of it to enable him to have one of his stellar matches.


Henderson - this was not really a game for his hustle-bustle style. What was needed was someone to beat a man on the dribble and disrupt Wolves' defence. Not that he had a particularly bad game, just not a particularly good one. In a game like this, his tendency to drift out wide to create the overload should have paid dividends, as that was where Liverpool had the advantage, but he needed to do it more on the left. That was where Wolves were in trouble and he could have done most.


Thiago - it is unfortunate that his match will be remembered for that double miss as his overall game was decent. What he needed was a runner from deep to pick out and that was rarely happening.


Mane - an off day for Mane. He never seemed likely to open Wolves up, despite getting a number of chances to attack them. Just one of those days for him.


Salah - it was one of the rare days when Salah met his match in Ait-Nouri, who performed brilliantly to keep him quiet. The moment the French wing-back was off, Salah made hay while the sun shined and that is why he is the best in the world. Even on an off day like that, he still keeps going and eventually got his reward with an assist.


Jota - had an absolute stinker of a game. It was not just the awful misses, it was his all-round play as well. Not so long ago he looked like he was growing into the link up role but he lost his way completely in this game and was back to looking completely out of place. He was lucky not to get hooked much earlier on. He seemed to give the ball away far more than he kept hold of it.


Origi - replaced Henderson in the 68th minute. What can you say about Origi? If there is anyone you want a chance to fall to, when the result depends on it in the dying seconds of a match, it has to be him. The lad has no fear. He is already a cult hero but he is closing in on that statue outside of Anfield with these moments!


Oxlade-Chamberlain - was brought on in the 82nd minute to take Jota's place. Struggled to get involved at all, though he had little time to really do much.


Milner replaced Salah in the 90+6th minute. It was just about getting some solidity in place and eating up time, there was no time for him to really make an impact.

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Written by Tris Burke December 06 2021 01:34:20


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