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Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Humbling Loss To Wolves

The Reds meekly capitulated to bottom half Wolves as the winter of their discontent continues. 

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool FC - Premier League Photo by MB Media/Getty Images

This isn’t going to be fun to write.

Mired in 10th and desperately needing a win, Liverpool instead came out of the blocks half asleep against an up-for-it Wolves, going behind by two goals inside the opening 10 minutes. The visiting Reds started the second half with some spirt after a likely halftime rollicking by Jurgen Klopp, but any hopes of finding a result were ultimately quelled when a not particularly rapid Ruben Neves waltzed through Liverpool’s defense on his way to scoring. Getting ole’d off the pitch by a Molineux crowd that started the day in the relegation zone was fitting of Liverpool’s season.


Cody Gakpo

WhoScored rated the Liverpool new boy as the best player in red on the day and that was likely the correct assessment. The Dutch international finally started at his favored left wing position, but had nothing to do in the first period with the hosts taking the initiative to constantly put the Reds back line under pressure. However, the 23-year-old was at the center of Liverpool’s brightest moments in the second half, displaying his strength and close control but was often let down by a team that didn’t seem to have any patterns of play in mind when in and around the opposing penalty area.

Darwin Nunez’s Underlying Stats

Hey, trying my best here.

Liverpool’s other big money signing once again—as has often been the case this debut season—did a lot of good without much of it coming off: 5 shots, with 2 on target (including a glorious 1-on-1 chance in the second half) and a key pass.

He is in the 98th and 99th percentile in Europe’s top five leagues in shots, expected goals, expected goals + assists, and touches in the penalty area. The stats say he’s also one of the best in Europe in dribbling at defenders and getting into the box. So that’s good.

Darwin Nunez is doing everything right—except putting the bloody ball into the bloody net.

The number of matchdays left in the season.

The eyes say last season’s runners up are nowhere near mounting an assault on the business end of the table. However, in theory, Liverpool sitting 10 points off of Newcastle in fourth place, are still in the running for Champions League places with 18 matchdays still to play. Newcastle and Manchester United have not had to contend at the upper echelons for some time, while Spurs continue to dawdle in fifth. Any decent sort of run could put the Reds back into the conversation...right?


Lack of tactical variation

This part is easier.

Once again, this Liverpool side proved that they are simply not in the physical or mental condition to play the way Jurgen Klopp wants his sides to play. For all their youthful energy, Gakpo and Nunez are not Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane at the tip of the counterpressing spear, which is no slight on the Reds new talents. However, Klopp not adapting to this reality is only compounding the pressure on a disjointed midfield lacking the lung-busting engines of Klopp sides past, while also exposing a defensive high line unaccustomed to dealing with so much attacking pressure so frequently. This was the case even before the Red’s litany of injuries started to bite, and an adjustment by the coaching staff is vital if Liverpool want to even countenance salvaging their season.

Pressing & Defending

L defending, as the kids would say.

The Joe Gomez pairing with the rumored departing Joel Matip proved once again to be one lacking confidence as each played key roles in all of Liverpool’s concessions. Matip failed to deal with a hopeful, looping ball into the box before deflecting Hwang Hee Chan’s low cross into his own net for the opener. Gomez then stepped in front of Alisson’s attempt to collect a near post cross, inexplicably flicking the ball into the danger area where it ricocheted off of a few bodies before ending up in the back of the net. However, the final goal took the cake as Liverpool failed to take advantage of superior numbers on a Wolves break, with both Thiago and Matip allowing Neves to stroll onto the end of Adama Traore’s cross and score.

Dissecting the Narrative

Whatever, bro. As long as we don’t end up in the Europa Conference League.

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