Wolves vs. Liverpool: *Bumper* Post-Match Analysis
Paul Tomkins, Andrew Beasley, Daniel Rhodes and other TTT regulars will give their thoughts on the match for 24 hours after the game, so the article received via email is unlikely to be the final version. There's statistics from the match and videos too.
A terrible start and a galling end, but in between, Liverpool had 22 shots and won seven corners. The issue was that they didn't do enough with them, but this was nowhere near the nadir of Brighton, which I felt was 10x worse. Same result, but a very different game.
The start was shocking, but the luck wasn't there with Joël Matip's own goal, with Liverpool maybe using up their fortune against Leicester in that regard.
Joe Gomez and Matip are the two most error-prone defenders the Reds have, and today it was Matip's turn to have an absolute nightmare for the first 20 minutes. Another older stalwart, Mo Salah, was man-handled for 90 minutes to no free-kicks, was a shadow of his old self.
The giant Mario Lemina play-acted four times to win free-kicks, and it's really difficult if the opposition turn every tackle into a foul by rolling around, yet steamroller you when it suits. It feels like Liverpool are not allowed to tackle, on the occasions they get close enough.
Confidence is shot across the entire squad, but the younger and newer players did well enough.
Until played into danger for the third goal late on, Stefan Bajcetic was outstanding for someone of his age and experience. Cody Gakpo kept working to make things happen. And Darwin Núñez got in behind, as hoped, at 2-0 down, but with a weakness in his shooting from wide-right angles (that has seen him drag shots wide), hit it hard and low, and it was denied by the keeper's foot – to me, not a miss, but a great instinctive save of the calibre that that we'd credit Alisson for at the other end.
In addition, Naby Keïta, who I've noted seems unable to strike through a ball properly since various groin issues, sliced shots badly, one of which was still going in until it hit a defender's arm on the line; there was no intention but surely that has to be a penalty?
Still, Paul Tierney, who has done nearly a quarter of the Reds' games this season has never given Liverpool a penalty in his life, and Liverpool still haven’t had a single penalty all season. (Lee Mason on VAR? You have to laugh.)
Perhaps the biggest worry is just how bad Liverpool are at set-pieces right now, ever since the Brentford nightmare and the loss of Virgil van Dijk. At both ends the Reds just aren't winning headers. There's a rabbit-in-headlights look about the defending in general right now, that's a sign of nerves. Corners and free-kicks are just being headed out by the opposition, or at the other end, being turned into goals.
Keïta adds a bit more energy to midfield, but less height. Bajcetic is 6ft tall, but weighs about 9 stone right now; the bulk will come in time. He's superb, but currently about half the weight of Lemina, Traoré and some of the Wolves brutes.
Milner and Henderson add more heft and leadership, but they're slowing and past their best. The balance cannot be got right, and the constant changes at centre-back are a nightmare.
Scoreboard pressure and league table pressure is addling the minds, and it's a team in disarray.
But had the Reds pulled it back to 2-2 in the second half, as they piled on the pressure it would have felt fair; it just felt like everyone was too anxious to convert the chances to even make it 2-1.
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