Liverpool can’t worry about its European positioning when it’s currently getting outfinished by relegation-threatened Wolves in a 3-0 affair at the Molineux on Saturday,
It’s the third meeting since early January between the sides following a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup and a 1-0 Liverpool win in the replay, and Wolves will feel they deserved the full three points in several ways.
WATCH WOLVES vs LIVERPOOL FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK
A Joel Matip own goal after six minutes was worsened by Craig Dawson’s goal on debut for Wolves in the 12th minute, and Liverpool could not break down Julen Lopetegui’s defense despite Mohamed Salah’s best efforts.
Adama Traore tortured Liverpool’s lifeless defense to set up Ruben Neves’s 71st-minute goal, and the Molineux crowd was Ole-ing every last touch of a stoppage-time possession in utterly unpredictable fashion.
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The expected goals total was kinder to Liverpool, but that and the club’s current situation count for little more than a handshake; The Reds now sit 10 points outside the top four, the 10 next to their name wild given their status under Jurgen Klopp (even considered their terrible injury list).
Wolves entered the day in the bottom three and exits it in 15th with 20 points. That’s two points clear of the bottom three but the upward trajectory is real.
Lopetegui’s Wolves feast on wounded Reds
Injuries definitely start the story of this one, a 3-0 that was much closer on the xG scoreboard but just as divided in spirit.
Jurgen Klopp’s one-time mentality monsters looked mentality defeated, especially in front of either goal, as the boss exclaimed after the game — full comments below — that the club was lined up as directed but “passive, not active.”
Wolves, meanwhile, were very active, and Klopp would’ve wondered what might’ve been when Neves lashed in the third goal by darting between a collection of lined-up Liverpool backs to snap home the end product of Adama Traore’s robust work breaking the lines and conducting a trademark dribble.
The Reds have big holes by Darwin Nunez is snakebit in front of goal and Cody Gakpo may get there. At the moment, Liverpool’s entire attack seems to be, “Let’s hope Mo Salah cooks today.”
The Egyptian has been fine this year but nowhere near an even average day on Saturday. Thiago Alcantara was one of only a few to really show up in a loss that leaves the Reds fodder for Europa League qualification and not much else. Maybe the UCL route can open up for them.
Stars of the Show
Jurgen Klopp reaction: ‘I have no words for it’ (231 words later)
“Conceding early goals is not unfamiliar to us but the way we conceded them today was not acceptable. When you see the whole game, throughout the game in moments we played an outstanding game without scoring and a good away game without scoring, the third goal I don’t count because it was the first time they passed the halfway line in the second half. The other two goals, going into a game with all the things we said during the week and before the game then this is the start is horrible,” Klopp told BBC Match of the Day.
“You do yourself no favors in these moments, giving easy balls away. We were passive in the two goals, everything we wanted to do was be compact and active but we were compact and passive. I can’t explain it, I think why would you do that? But they did it anyway.
“The leadership [defensively] is missing but this is not my first explanation, I really think in the specific situation we could have and should have done better. We have to do better in these moments by not coming to this situation in the game so not chasing the game. We didn’t finish things off properly, we missed the last pass, the intensity we played at times was good but we have put ourselves in a really average position for the two goals.
“We better change it. That’s true, 100%. I have no words for it really, I’m sorry.”
Wolves will feel they can enter a purple patch with a trip to Southampton and a visit from Bournemouth on the next two Saturdays.
Liverpool has to snap to life quick: There’s a Merseyside derby at home to Everton, then Newcastle away followed by the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 vs Real Madrid.
How to watch Wolves vs Liverpool live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
Online: Premier League on Peacock
Liverpool own goal video: Wolves 1-0 Liverpool
Craig Dawson goal video: Debutant makes it 2-0 to Wolves with rare goal
Ruben Neves goal video: Adama Traore turns on style as Liverpool goes to sleep
Key storylines & star players
Winning games is about scoring goals and only two Wolves players have more than one. Daniel Podence has collected five, while Ruben Neves has four. Even more surprising, Wolves are still waiting on a goal from Raul Jimenez, Diego Costa, or injured Pedro Neto. Perhaps Matheus Cunha or Pablo Sarabia will chip in soon.
Liverpool has one win from its last three Premier League outings, but there’s a heaping helping of bad luck to their struggles. The Reds have 24 goals from open play and 20 allowed in that same situation. Their expected goals in those spots is 34.6 – 24. Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez have been especially unlucky despite combining for 12 goals and six assists on the season.
Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Pedro Neto (ankle), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Boubacar Traore (undisclosed), Chiquinho (knee)
— Wolves (@Wolves) February 4, 2023
Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Virgil van Dijk (thigh), Roberto Firmino (calf), Ibrahima Konate (hamstring), Luis Diaz (knee), Diogo Jota (thigh), Arthur Melo (thigh)
Here’s how we line up to take on Wolves today 👊🔴#WOLLIV
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 4, 2023