Liverpool vs. Wolves score: Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum and Joel Matip strike in Reds win

Liverpool romped to a convincing 4-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers as returning fans at Anfield were treated to an exceptional display by the Premier League champions. Mohamed Salah poked home midway through the first half to put Liverpool in the ascendancy by the interval, little more than their play had merited after a dominant display that set the stage for fireworks later in the game.

The 2,000 fans on the Kop had been waiting so long to see their side in the flesh for the first time since their league title win. Nothing could ever be worth the nine-month wait but Georginio Wijnaldum’s curling effort, Joel Matip’s header and a Nelson Semedo own goal from a brilliant cross by the returning Trent Alexander-Arnold were certainly decent recompense for the Anfield faithful. Jurgen Klopp’s side are now level with Tottenham at the top of the Premier League.

Read on for the key talking points from the game.

Liverpool’s slow stranglehold

The first half’s turning point was what felt like an uncharacteristic error from Conor Coady, who tried to chest down a looping ball that he perhaps should have stooped to head clear. Salah stole in and poked away the opener and suddenly Wolves were facing an ever greater challenge.

Coady will rightly be disappointed, he is a top-class defender who has built his craft on composure and reliability. He will not look for mitigating circumstances but those who would be inclined to might note the remorseless pressure that Liverpool had applied to Wolves before their 24th-minute breakthrough.

In the 10 minutes before they found a breakthrough Liverpool had pinned their guests back into the box with almost zero respite. Jurgen Klopp’s men had had 80 percent possession, completing 79 passes and recycling the ball from one flank to another. Between the 14th and 24th minute Joel Matip made 15 passes. Wolves made 16.

This was all happening in the Wolves third and middle third of the pitch, it is the sort of experience for defending teams that is as mentally exhausting as it is physically. The likes of Coady must constantly be aware of the threat that can come when Salah or Sadio Mane cut in and from Roberto Firmino, who drops deep one moment and tries to spin in behind another.

Such was the pressure Liverpool were exerting that it was only a matter of time. If one of the front three couldn’t magic up a moment of brilliance then the sheer remorseless pressure on Wolves may well just force a mistake out of one of them. Coady is perhaps the last man one would have picked as the weak link but such was the strain being placed on the visiting backline it was only so long before the chain snapped.

Wolves can’t repeat Arsenal magic

It ought to be no surprise that Wolves were not quite the same without their No. 9 Raul Jimenez, an exceptional striker who has consistently made the most of service that is perhaps not as extensive as other players who tend to be in the mix for the Golden Boot. Yet it is worth remembering how freewheeling and fearless Nuno Espirito Santo’s front four had been in last week’s win over Arsenal. They were positionally varied, hard-running and explosive on the counter.

At Anfield a front three of Adama Traore, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence were rather more inhibited. Last week with the addition of Fabio Silva they were hugely effective at stretching the pitch, pulling the full-backs extremely wide to create channels in which to attack. 

Today they seemed much narrower as a three, Podence in particular often seeing to get in the way of Neto and vice versa. If that was an attempt to probe Liverpool’s relative weak point in central defense it didn’t work with Matip and Fabinho looking utterly at ease with attacks that came straight at them. 

A team that has traditionally been so strong on the flanks managed to create only one chance from a cross before Nuno returned to what worked a week ago, replacing Ruben Neves with Fabio Silva. That came moments after Wijnaldum’s second effectively killed off the game – the Wolves boss might wonder what might have been if he had gone for the more attack-minded approach from the off.

Notable performances

Georginio Wijnaldum: A rare goal was the stand out moment for the Dutchman, who passed the ball with exceptional accuracy. Of his first 38 attempts, 37 found their man. RATING: 8

Adama Traore: We have long since passed the period where questions about Traore’s end product felt reasonable but this was a reminder of the frustrating displays from his time at Middlesbrough where the end product was lacking even as he made dangerous runs. RATING: 5

Fabinho: The Brazilian looks utterly at ease in central defense. When Wolves players ran at him he stood firm, waited his moment and stepped in to steal possession back. RATING: 7

Premier League outlook

Liverpool are now level with Tottenham at the top of the table but trail Jose Mourinho’s side on goal difference. Their meeting on Dec. 16 already looks to be an intriguing test of Spurs’ title credentials. Wolves remain in 10th but are just four points behind fourth-placed Leicester City.

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Written by Chekmagazine


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