Liverpool made hard work of it, but on Saturday lunchtime they secured their fourth successive victory of the season, producing a comeback against Wolverhampton Wanderers after falling behind in what was a sluggish and disjointed first period.
Hwang Hee-chan opened the scoring within seven minutes, dispatching a wicked Pedro Neto delivery. From there, the hosts were in the driving seat, pressuring the Reds high up the field and causing them all sorts of problems on the counterattack. Indeed, Matheus Cunha should have added a second from a fine Neto cross.
The Reds failed to win any of their six Premier League matches in this time slot last season and after conceding early on, this trend showed little sign of being put to bed as the Old Gold showcased a slickness in possession, energy in their press and directness on the counter.
But Gary O’Neil’s side were to be punished for their missed opportunities, as a second-half comeback, spearheaded by the relentless Mohamed Salah and some impactful Jurgen Klopp substitutions, saw Liverpool turn the deficit around and record a 3-1 victory.
Who impressed for Liverpool against Wolves?
While Salah received most of the plaudits for laying on two assists in the second period, it was their “Duracell bunny” of Andy Robertson, who led their charge down the left and marked his 200th appearance for the club by netting a late-winner.
The Scotsman was filling in for the suspended Virgil van Dijk as captain, and he filled that role to perfection, popping up in the box and calmly slotting the ball past the frame of Jose Sa after playing a one-two with Salah.
Robertson’s goal was a reward for the intent that the visitors showed in the second half as the introduction of Luis Diaz saw the left-back unleashed higher up the field, reminding Klopp of his qualities going forward that saw him subsequently labelled as an “attacking machine” by a Liverpool journalist Sean.
As per Sofascore, Robertson would become a thorn down Wolves’ right flank with seven crosses, one shot on target, making 103 touches and placing 92% of his passes accurately, crucial in preventing the hosts from building a head of steam in the second period and driving his side up the field with his powerful running style.
Although the Scot put in a performance that was synonymous with years gone by, Klopp must consider dropping fellow defender Joel Matip after he was “miles off it”, as James Pearce noted, on Saturday afternoon.
Liverpool were scrutinised for their distinct lack of defensive organisation throughout last season and in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, they were all over the shop once more as Wolves flew out of the blocks and caught their opponents off guard.
The skill, confidence and ambition of Neto led the charge as the Portuguese provided a telling end product to go with his sparkling build-up play.
With Wolves producing an onslaught of attacks, the Reds needed an experienced head at the heart of their defence to inject a bit of calmness into proceedings and although Matip is so often associated with achieving this, the Cameroonian was one of the players at fault for Liverpool’s first half implosion.
The 32-year-old was supposed to be setting an example for the debuting 20-year-old Jarell Quansah but instead of leading from the back with his experience, Matip allowed the Molineux crowd to swallow him up, enduring a nightmare display.
Despite their apparent defensive struggles in the first period, Quansah was a stand-out performer at the back, winning three out of four of his ground duels, recording 96% pass completion, making three tackles and accurately placing his two attempted long balls, as per Sofascore.
While the youngster led by example, the senior Matip buckled under the weight of expectation, gifting possession to the opposition on 11 occasions, winning just one of his three ground duels, making one tackle and misplacing five of his six attempted long balls.
Following this performance, Matip’s place in the team could be under threat and with van Dijk returning ahead of their home fixture against West Ham, the £100k-per-week earner could be the one who makes way.