Liverpool – Wolves was a momentous occasion for the reigning, defending Premier League champions to welcome 2,000 fans inside Anfield for the first time since March — the first time since the Reds were crowned PL champions for the first time ever (their first top-division title since 1990) — on Sunday.
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Mohamed Salah, Georginio Wijnaldum and Joel Matip got three of Liverpool’s four goals — the other coming via Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Nelson Semedo — with a clean sheet at the other end, as the Reds ran their current unbeaten run to seven games (4W-3D-0L). A performance befitting champions, and befitting the reunion of players, staff and supporters.
The result keeps Liverpool level on points with Premier League leads Tottenham Hotspur, but just behind Jose Mourinho’s men based on goal difference. The co-leaders are set to face off for the first time this season in 10 days’ time.
3 things we learned: Liverpool – Wolves
1. Liverpool fans welcome the champions: Why read about the latest rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” when you can simply watch and listen instead?
2. Liverpool defense looking stronger and stronger: Liverpool have conceded just four goals in their last six Premier League games, beginning with their first outing following Virgil van Dijk’s season-ending knee injury. In those six games, they have conceded multiple goals zero times. Prior to the current run, the Reds conceded 14 goals in their first five games. It was never going to continue like that all season, not even with Joe Gomez out for many months after suffering a serious knee injury of his own.
3. Liverpool attack finding its groove: The thing that has made the Liverpool attack so extraordinarily dangerous over the last two-plus season is its three-pronged nature comprised of world-class superstars. Now, throw Diogo Jota, who had his first truly “meh” game (as a substitute, against his former team, it should be noted) for the Reds, and it’s very much a “pick your poison” proposition for opponents. Wolves were completely overwhelmed on Sunday — as many other sides have been, and will continue to be — and they never actually stood a chance.
After a pair of high-quality chances went begging in the game’s opening 20 minutes, Liverpool eventually went ahead through Salah in the 24th minute, courtesy of a tragic gaffe from Wolves captain Conor Coady. Jordan Henderson played the ball into the penalty area from not far off the halfway line, and it looked like an easy ball for Coady to combat with a simple header or chest control. Instead, he missed completely and the ball fell to Salah just behind him. The ensuing finish was, predictably, ruthless.
Wolves thought they had won a penalty kick with a chance to pull level in the 43rd minute, but Sadio Mane’s foul on Coady went to video review and it was determined the Senegalese winger made no contact at all. Despite going to the ground dramatically, Coady was not shown a yellow card for simulation.
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Liverpool’s second came just before the hour mark, and again it was Henderson who orchestrated the entire move. His ball into space freed Georginio Wijnaldum for a shot from just outside the penalty area. Again, the finish was pinpoint and virtually unstoppable for Patricio.
Matip made it 3-0 exactly 10 minutes later, sealing the victory and the points for the Reds. Henderson played a short corner to Salah, who dribbled uncontested toward the corner of the box before sending an out-swinging cross to Matip toward the far post.
Semedo was charged with the own goal as Liverpool went 4-0 ahead. Trent Alexander-Arnold returned from a hamstring injury in the 68th minute, and 10 minutes later he served in a delightful cross that would have found Mane for a tap-in if not for Semedo getting to it — and putting it in his own net — first.