Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Liverpool
Premier League (29), Molineux
15 March 2021
Goals: Jota 45′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
Mixed early minutes with a dropped cross and a good low save, both times involving the same Wolves wing-back, Nelson Semedo.
Distribution and clearing his lines was pretty good throughout, even if the old TV commentators kept trying to make a big deal out of Ali deciding to punch the ball clear.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8
Some really nice link play, one or two good short-range crosses and the usual batch of crossfield passes – but the really impressive aspect of Trent’s game was his defensive aggression.
He was sprinting back when we lost possession, absolutely determined not to leave the centre-backs outnumbered or out-Traore-ed, with several good interceptions and challenges made in the first 45.
Nat Phillips – 7
A very important header on the half-hour mark to stop a clear chance for Willian Jose.
Just very solid again, diligent about his positional work and making sure he cleared his lines or passed out properly. Big clearance right at the end, too.
Ozan Kabak – 8
Made a couple of brilliant recoveries on Semedo and Adama. Nicely aggressive, worked well in tandem with Nat again.
He has taken really good strides forward over the past few games and this was another positive showing – he was the best of the five centre-backs on the pitch on the night.
Andy Robertson – 6
Wasted so many promising positions with overhit and underhit passes. Looks a mile off his best form at the moment, whether that’s a result of tiredness or overplaying or a plain old dip.
That said, he was really physical and stuck close to Adama when he could, was powerful in the tackle and made a few runs to relieve pressure, so it’s certainly not a drop-off due to no effort or lack of intent.
Fabinho – 8
So good at reading the play that he kept making his move to intercept Wolves players’ first touch even before they’d taken it and started to turn.
Passing, heading clear, directing those around him – all good from Fab, which in turn makes our midfield far more capable of protecting the defence.
Thiago Alcantara – 6
A few very nice early passes through the gaps in midfield, but also some erratic balls to gift possession and a clutch of missed tackles which led to a first-half booking that seemed inevitable.
Was the player most keen to take risks to create and force Wolves into making decisions at the back, so he can’t be faulted for one or two moments where he pushed forward and left spaces in behind.
Not really a surprise when he was subbed, with the card and a few wild moments.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
Neat through-ball for the early Mane chance, but aside from that he was very much in a support role.
That was party expected, to give the extra cover against the Traore-and-Semedo combo down the right, but it didn’t really allow for Gini to have much regular involvement in the build-up play.
Also subbed after the hour mark.
Mo Salah – 6
Hardly involved in the first half, save for a few counter-attacks… one of which saw him feature in the build-up to the goal.
Too weak in holding up the ball at times, too eager to make easy fouls in the corners. Good finish but offside late on.
Diogo Jota – 7
Was certainly busy, and helped win back possession in the attacking half a couple of times, but also appeared to overrun the ball a few times or be somewhat slow in the pass.
Probably just a matter of getting back to full speed – so it bodes well that even after months out, he has quickly returned with an assist in midweek and a goal here.
Sadio Mane – 8 – Man of the Match
Could, maybe should, have scored an early one-on-one chance, but was frequently the most dangerous attacker. A few great runs and an attempted cut-back almost opened up the home side.
Sent a diving header wide just before the break, was hard-working defensively against Adama and was the most prominent player by a distance in the first half.
Fewer individual moments after the break but still the man who could carry the ball over distance, almost curled in another effort and generally took the fight to Wolves.
James Milner (on for Wijnaldum, 66′) – 6 – The usual running and clearances but not much finesse playing forward.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Jota, 81′) – n/a – A few runs and passes forward.
Subs not used: Adrian, R Williams, N Williams, Tsimikas, Jones, Shaqiri
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Made a good start to the night by naming the same side which dispatched with Leipzig and brought us a welcome return to winning ways.
Hard to take too many sweeping conclusions from the game as to the boss’ approach, as the Reds did dominate in spells but also sat off for much of the second half without really forcing the issue.
Undoubtedly part of that was the lack of confidence and need to protect the points, with the manager alternately roaring at and guiding his players into position.
The subs were the expected ones: two midfielders changed and the one forward back from injury.
A ‘standard’ night from the boss in most regards – and it got the win, ultimately.