What a performance from the champions! With fans back in Anfield making their voices heard, the players put on one of the best performances of the season against an always feisty Wolves side.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
With so many players hurt, Jurgen Klopp has had to turn to some youngsters to play in big games. Today, there were three U23 players stepping into starting spots.
Curtis Jones is already a bit of an old hand at a tender 19 years of age. He was very solid yet again today, springing counters on the dribble early on, and providing the hockey assist that caused the own goal. He had a 95% passing percentage despite having second highest number of passes attempted (82). Curtis is not just a player for the future, but he is legitimately stating a case to be a regular starter in this team now, and will be putting pressure on the likes of Naby Keita and James Milner.
Neco Williams had a rocky first few minutes, but settled down to put in a good overall performance. He was a little quicker with his passing, and is starting to read the game better defensively.
Finally, Caomhin Kelleher was given his second start in a row, and his first Premier League start. The Irish keeper made a few nice saves, including a very nice some quick footwork to get back and tip a teasing chip from Daniel Podence over the bar in the first few minutes. While Kelleher had a couple nervy moments with his footwork, his aggressiveness and ability to pass with both feed show he has a lot to offer.
Caoimhin Kelleher (22y 13d) is the second-youngest goalkeeper in Liverpool's history to keep a clean sheet on his league debut for the club, after Elisha Scott (19y 130d) in January 1913. #LFC #LIVWOL— Michael Reid (@michael_reid11) December 6, 2020
Lets just take a minute to give some praise to Gini. The Dutch midfielder has been the only constant in Liverpool’s midfield this year, and has yet again proven to be an ironman. Since the international break, Gini has played every game, which amounts to five games in two weeks. Not only has Gini played, but he has excelled for the most part. He played his role perfectly yet again today, and scored a beautiful goal in transition. He should get a deserved break in midweek. No matter what happens with his contract situation, Wijnaldum should be lauded by Liverpool fans for putting every ounce of his effort into this team.
Sauce and Swagger
Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane didn’t get on the score sheet today, but both players were just oozing confidence out there. Mane honestly should have scored a couple, and made the run that ended up causing the own goal. Firmino was back to his magic, nutmegging players left and right on the dribble, and almost scored an audacious goal from a spinning back heel. Mohamed Salah did manage to get on the scoresheet twice with a goal and an assist. He also had some tight footwork in the box to create a couple more chances, and drew a lunge from Conor Coady that could have been called for a penalty depending on the day and the VAR official.
Calm and Confident
Joel Matip and Fabinho seem to be putting together a solid partnership in the back. The two lanky defenders calmly snuffed out most everything that came through the middle of the field, often stepping up to break up a counter with an assured toe poke of the ball.
Andrew Robertson and Jordan Henderson both also barely put a foot wrong the entire match. They both provided reassured defending when needed, and launched quite a few of the attacks from their strong passing.
Look, I’m of two minds about having fans back in Anfield while the pandemic is still ongoing. While there were definitely fans who took mask wearing seriously (shout out to double mask guy and gran with the face shield), there were plenty of camera shots of fans with masks below their noses or completely off. With that being said, it brought tears to my eyes to hear You’ll Never Walk Alone sung from the Kop again. And it was fantastic to hear rowdy renditions of Si Senor and the VVD song.
The former Liverpool player had a torrid day back at Anfield. He was at fault for Liverpool’s first goal, taking a ball down with his chest and letting it get far enough away from him that Mo Salah was able to pip in to steal it and finish. Coady also looked to have earned a penalty for his side, but VAR rightly overturned the call when it was seen that Coady wasn’t touched by Sadio Mane, and should have been given a yellow card. Coady was booed by the fans in Anfield any time he touched the ball after the simulation. Coady also got bamboozled by Salah’s footwork as previously mentioned, and was close to giving away a penalty.
From The Manager
“The game, the atmosphere, it was so nice. I had goosebumps. They started ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ - really nice. I never knew it could feel that good.”
-Jurgen Klopp on having fans back in Anfield
What Happens Next
With the win, Liverpool stay even with Spurs on points at the top of the table, and managed to claw a couple goal back in the goal differential category. Liverpool have their final Champions League group stage match on Wednesday away to Midtjylland. The Reds have already qualified in the top spot of their group, so will likely send a decidedly reserve squad to play the Danish team. Liverpool next play in the league next Sunday, away to a Fulham side very much in the relegation scrap.