The game of football needs fans and with fans allowed back in the stadium, it was a different experience watching the match. Liverpool fans were treated to an amazing game that saw their team score four goals. Though Wolves have troubled Liverpool recently, Liverpool was always the favourites to win this Premier League fixture at home.
“It was a really, really good, high-level performance”, said Jurgen Klopp in his post-match interview. Apart from the team performance, each and every player on the pitch had an excellent game for Liverpool. Special mentions go to their young goalkeeper – Kelleher who made a couple of important saves that every top keeper needs to while playing for a big club.
From a Wolves perspective, they missed Raul Jimenez’s striker instincts in a game where chances were few and far in between. Though Wolves didn’t play badly in this game, the difference was in the quality of players all over the pitch.
Diogo Jota, who has started most of the games for Liverpool, was on the bench against his ex-teammates. This means that the dangerous trio of Salah-Firmino-Mane started up front for Liverpool. Fabinho and Matip were in the centre of the defence, while Neco Williams covered for Trent Alexander-Arnold in the right-back position.
Fabio Silva who replaced Raul Jimenez in the game against Arsenal didn’t start the game for Wolves at Anfield. Ruben Neves came back into the side, pushing Podence to play in the striker’s position.
In this tactical analysis of the game between Liverpool and Wolves, we will take a look at Liverpool’s tactics in the midfield and Wolves’ goal-scoring challenges. In this analysis, we also review what Liverpool did to force mistakes from the opponent.
The adaptability and efficiency of Liverpool’s midfield is something that must be studied and explored further. In moments where Liverpool controlled the ball in the midfield, the three midfield players would be furthest away from each other, occupying positions of tactical importance.
In the first few minutes of the game, Henderson played in a wide right position allowing Salah to move inside, while Jones played in a wide left position covering up for his left-back, Robertson. Wijnaldum formed the pivot in the midfield with Firmino closest to him.
The interesting part of these tactics is that the system is not built to suit the players, rather the players have adapted to the system. Here we can see Liverpool’s midfielders occupying similar positions as mentioned before, but this time it is Henderson in a wide left position and Jones in a higher wide right position.
Whenever Liverpool’s defensive line dropped deeper in their own half, Robertson would fall back in his left-back position, and at the same time, the midfielder in the wide left position moved to a more central position. Here, Henderson moves closer to Wijnaldum, ready to defend any counter-attack in case Liverpool loses the ball from here.
Wolves missed a striker
There is no doubt Wolves were going to miss the quality of Raul Jimenez, but what they missed more in this game was a proper striker. Wolves were able to get the ball wide in the attacking third via their exceptional wingers – Adama Troare and Pedro Neto. But players like these thrive when there is a striker in the penalty area to pass or cross to.
Wolves didn’t have any players near the two Liverpool center backs or even making late runs into the penalty area. As a result, Wolves did not enter the penalty area as much as they should have.
The difference a proper striker can make was evident when Wolves brought on Fabio Silva. Not only did Wolves enjoy more possession but they also had shots on goal in the latter part of the second half.
We can see here that Ait Nouri had 2 of his teammates to aim at in the penalty area. As a result, Wolves played more crosses in the penalty area that led to more chances being created. Wolves almost scored from one of these situations.
Anticipate and Intercept
Many would say that the first goal Wolves conceded was a mistake by Coady and rightly so. But Mo Salah and Sadio Mane were putting the needed pressure on Wolves’ defenders right from the start of the game. They anticipated the second balls coming out from defense and intercepted them on more than one occasion in the first half.
On one such occasion, Salah was seen running in front of Ruben Neves to intercept the header clearance from Marcal. Salah got the ball ahead of Ruben Neves and launched an attack from a position that is very close to the goal. This is one aspect of their game that not many teams can claim to have mastered.
Despite maintaining a very good defensive shape during the game, Wolves were undone in some moments due to lapses in concentration. Wolves are not as bad a side as the scoreline suggests. The result was more a reflection of how well Liverpool performed in this game.
Liverpool always manages to strike that perfect balance of a number of players in offensive and defensive positions during all moments of the game. They almost played a perfect game, backed by top individual performances.
Wolves had many midfielders in the game, but none of them pushed forward to play in a striker’s role. And they fell short big time in this area while making it easier for Liverpool to take more risks going forward.