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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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Well this is turning into a habit, two wins in a row on the road, amazing what can happen when the back four settles down. You can already see the signs of a partnership developing between the two centre-backs and they do look to complement each other quite well. With Fabinho in front of them, shielding them, the defence did look fairly solid once more, though they were aided by an extremely lacklustre Wolves side.

The one thing you can say is that Wolves did not play into Liverpool's hands the way RBL did, they gave little room behind to run into but Liverpool were still able to create a number of very good opportunities. The quick, slick build ups and link play was looking like it is returning, with some lovely moves in evidence, but it was interspersed between sloppy passing and loose touches. Added to that, the finishing is still not the best and it was a goal that the keeper will feel he should have saved.

All in all, it was not a great performance, maybe not even a good one, but there were good signs for the forthcoming games. It must be said that the main factor in improving results is probably down to the fact that there has been more space between games for the team to work in training. Hopefully that bodes well for the rest of the season.

There were two real negatives about the game that must be discussed though. Firstly the referee. He was awful. So many bad decisions for both sides and he seemed to spend most of the game just guessing as to what decision to give. It was not quite Lee Mason levels of ineptitude, but I am quite sure Nuno would have been mentally adding him to his list of those Premier League referees that are not good enough. Though the list might as well just be a list of Premier League referees, as I am not sure there is a single one that is good enough.

Finally the late flag issue. From the moment it was brought in, everybody has said it was going to cause injuries to happen and it needs to be changed before someone gets badly hurt as a result. Well now it is too late as someone did get badly hurt because of it. Just put the flag up if they are offside and forget about VAR for offsides please. It should be there for serious issues, bad fouls the referee misses or penalties etc, not for an offside call. We now have two officials running up and down the line that are an absolute waste of time now, for no real reason as VAR is not reliable on offsides anyway.

 


Wolverhampton Wanderers

 

Wolves were very disappointing, unless Neto did something, they were never going to score. Jose and Traore offer no movement at all, the amount of times their midfield looked up to play someone in behind and there was no one was incredible. Neto is excellent, but he cannot do it all himself. Jose is far too static and lacks the ability to hold up the ball and bring others in. Traore is just incredibly lazy, he only bothers is the ball is put exactly into his feet and then he will just run mindlessly until he loses the ball. His final ball is so bad it is often safer to just stand back and let him do what he wants, because it will only end up being given back anyway. Usually followed by him falling over and hoping to get a free kick. Absolute waste of talent.

With no one from midfield able to provide a driving forward run, they are very reliant on the wing-backs to move the play forward. They struggled to get them into the game, so they struggled. Their biggest danger ended up coming from balls into the box from one of the centre-backs, Saiss, getting forward. He did deliver a couple of decent balls, but they need to find more. More movement up front and more mobility from their midfield.

 


Liverpool

 

Klopp - finally returned to what was successful over the last couple of years and had faith in some young players. Kabak and Phillips are never going to provide the quality of van Dijk, but they are capable of holding their own in the Premier League as a pair and that is all that was needed.

 

Alisson - not his best game, managed to drop a simple catch early on which could have been costly as he made contact with Semedo afterwards. It could easily have been seen as a penalty, it is a very subjective thing, though personally I would have not seen it as one. Alisson did make slight contact, in my opinion accidental as he was just chasing his loose catch, contact is allowed, it is a contact sport, and it did not affect the play as Semedo was nowhere near getting the ball. If it had been accidental but stopped Semedo getting the ball, then I would say it is a penalty. If it had been deliberate, then it should also be a penalty. I am of the opinion it was neither deliberate nor stopped Semedo from getting the ball.

 

Alexander-Arnold - played very well, showed his pace chasing back when needed to stop an overload on his flank, and kept Wolves from getting in down his side, despite it clearly being a targeted tactic to do so. Going forward he linked very well with Salah and played some good stuff.

 

Phillips - showed his limitations in this game, but also showed why those limitations are not as big a problem as some seem to think they would be. In the air he is immense, but on the ground and when up against pace he does struggle, but he is very consistent in what he does. That allows the team around him to read what he is doing and adjust their position accordingly to cover for him. When you have a big man, who is slow on the turn and can be done for pace, the biggest issue is if they are erratic, such as Harry Maguire of Man Utd, who causes big problems for the team around him as they never know what he is doing. Phillips does what he does and that is it, but Maguire tries to do more and so exposes not just his limits but also the players around him.

Kabak now knows exactly what Phillips will do and so can be on the cover immediately, knowing where to position himself to cover the gap, and the full-backs and midfield can adjust accordingly. It presents the same advantages as a well-drilled defence, in that they concede less because they know where each other is and what they will do so can always be set to cover it. That meant that the team as a whole were very rarely in trouble when Wolves did manage to get at Phillips. A huge step forward from having midfielders there who are inconsistent in their reactions, sometimes playing like midfielders and sometimes like defenders.

 

Kabak - much better performance, he is starting to grow into the position and partnership with Phillips. There are still a few teething problems, such as when he got mixed up with Robertson, but defensively the whole team looks much happier and more solid. I do wish he would play the ball forward more, he does have the ability but far too often looked to go backwards when a pass forward was on. His default does seem to be sideways or backwards, which did cause a real problem when he put Alisson under pressure with a poor back pass.

 

Robertson - looks a bit tired, making a few sloppy errors that come from that kind of mental tiredness. He is still effective, but just a way off his best. It is a shame Tsimikas suffered injury problems when the team was in form and so Robertson was not able to be rotated.

 

Fabinho - while he was never able to really showcase his passing range, nor have any real effect on the game on the ball, he did well to shut Wolves out. Admittedly aided by the complete lack of movement and effort from two-thirds of the Wolves' front line.

 

Thiago - always walking a disciplinary tightrope with his desperation to prove he is up to the physicality of the Premier League, after all the bizarre media criticism from pundits with no idea about the game, who seemed to think all of Liverpool's problems were down to him. It has left him trying far too hard, particularly when trying to win the ball, which has resulted in a tendency to throw himself into challenges he does not need to make. With form improving, a settled team and confidence growing, I am hopeful he will begin to settle down and no longer feel the need to make the challenges he does.

 

Wijnaldum - played one great through ball to Mane, who should have done better, then decided he was done for the evening and went into hiding. Maybe he is in need of a rest as well, as he was excellent in the early part of the season in this role, so he can certainly play it to a much higher level. Right now though he is always five yards off the play, whether it is going forward, pressing or getting back, he is not helping out.

 

Jota - always looks dangerous, threatening to catch Patricio out a few times when the Wolves' keeper had the ball at his feet, and scored, but overall he was nowhere near his best. He had one of those games where he did something well and then passed the ball to no one or ran into a crowd and lost the ball. He was always willing to try and win it back though. If he could just improve his passing, Jota would be something even more special.

 

Salah - he is not just an incredible forward, he is also a hard worker for the team and did extremely well after a slight error by him on a Liverpool corner gave the ball to Neto. He tracked back with him and took the ball off Neto very well. Some of his link up play was exceptional, particularly down the right with Alexander-Arnold, but Salah is not quite at his best in goalscoring areas just yet.

 

Mane - had an excellent game and tormented the Wolves team showing strength and skill in abundance. Shame the same could not be said of his finishing or the result would have been a lot more comfortable. Could easily have had a penalty when he ran through and took the ball past Patricio. The Portugese keeper clearly had his hand on Mane's ankle, many forwards (particularly English ones, though we all know the media would never criticise them for diving even though the likes of Kane and Vardy are the worst of the lot) would have felt the touch and gone to ground. Mane tried to play on and the chance was gone as a result. For me that is exactly what he should do and I have no complaints with that at all.

 

Keita - replaced Thiago in the 67th minute. Never really got into the game, but certainly put in the effort to try and do so.

 

Milner - came on in place of Wijnaldum in the 67th minute. As always worked hard but struggled to get to grips with the game. His attempt to take down Traore on a run was hilarious.

 

Oxlade-Chamberlain took Jota's place in the 81st minute. Looked really promising, though it is hard to do much in so few minutes, he certainly looked like he had the ability to play that central role if needed. Came close to picking up an assist as well but was just a little slow to play the pass and Salah drifted offside.

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Written by Tris Burke March 16 2021 12:21:22

 

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