Liverpool secured a narrow 1-0 win against Wolves to end 2019 on a winning note, but the game itself saw a plethora of talking points emerge.
Another game and another win for Jurgen Klopp‘s chargers, a result which ensured a memorable 2019 was brought to a close in the best possible way.
The world champions were made to work for their 18th win of the season, however, against a spirited Wolves outfit, one who felt they were hard done by after their goal was chalked off for offside in the buildup.
It ensured they headed into the break with a one goal deficit after Sadio Mane found the back of the net and VAR had ruled in Liverpool’s favour after referee Anthony Taylor’s initial call of handball from Adam Lallana was overturned.
And while the visitors looked to ask questions in the second, Klopp’s side held firm to collect another three points and see their lead atop of the table remain at 13 points.
Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Phil Baki of the Two Red Gringos (@TwoRedGringos) and Nick Collins (@Nick___Collins) to delve into the positives and negatives from the victory and discuss the Reds in 2019 and what we hope to see in the year to come.
Phil: It’s honestly hard to encapsulate everything good about a trip to Anfield for a Liverpool win.
Meeting locals and their willingness to help out a Yank and his wife at their first game was notable. There’s often a lot of discussion on social media of how foreigners coming to games affects the atmosphere but the locals were more than happy to show us around and just talk to fellow passionate Reds.
The atmosphere inside the ground before and during the match was just as amazing as it seems on TV.
My personal favourite new song of the night coincided with the wearing of the FIFA Club World Cup Champion Badge, “Now you’re gonna believe us, we’re champions of the world!”
And all things considered, seeing a win, even a tight 1-0, is always incredible.
Nick: Simply, that we won.
There was some lovely buildup play from us throughout and we effectively nullified the threat of Wolves.
And seeing their players celebrate inches from me only for it to be ruled out!
Joanna: It was yet another example of Liverpool winning in a manner which simply gets the job done.
It was not as eye-catching as the thrashing of Leicester nor was it as pretty, but the performance was just as effective and it is another three points in the bag – and that’s simply all I care about these days as the prize we are hoping for moves a step closer each time.
On an individual performance level, I thought Joe Gomez was outstanding once more and it’s a brilliant sight to see him back to his best – I think the fact that his position is not under threat with Lovren and Matip out has allowed him to play without the pressure of losing his place.
And what a way to finish the year! Unbeaten at Anfield in all competitions and firmly atop of the table having collected 55 from a possible 57 points – it’s ridiculous! I say it every week, but what a team.
Phil: Anthony Taylor. I don’t love to harp on refereeing but with so much conversation around the VAR in the match, it is pretty unavoidable.
For the opening goal, with VAR in place, there’s no reason for him to give handball against Lallana in the run of play. He could just let it run knowing that VAR would review it.
Throughout the match, he consistently allowed Wolves to play more physically than he allowed Liverpool and ultimately the Reds overcame a brutal refereeing performance to claim the 3 points.
Nick: The use of VAR is not good for inside the stadium, celebrating goals two minutes after they’re scored is not football.
Wolves‘ tactics of their players digging the pitch up at half time (could be seen as great shithousery).
And as Phil said, the referee was abysmal – loads of niggling fouls not given and Salah was grabbed most of the time.
Joanna: Hard to disagree with any of what Phil and Nick have said there over VAR and Taylor, the fact we are having these discussions every single week – whether in a Liverpool game or not – speaks volumes.
It was as though Taylor was simply on the field to watch and observe, he lost control and thank goodness he’d blown his whistle after Mane had found the net – but again, couldn’t really celebrate it.
While I thoroughly enjoyed Wolves‘ goal being overturned at the time, the rules do need taking a look at, VAR simply enforces them, as the smallest of margins which aren’t obvious to the human eye for offside is not what anyone seems to want.
And how do you reflect on the Reds in 2019, and what are your hopes for 2020?
Phil: 2019 has been the greatest year for Liverpool that I have witnessed as a supporter.
In my eyes, it is the year where Klopp’s Liverpool changed from “entertaining” to “ruthless.”
They have claimed three trophies and are absolutely storming on all fronts right now. My hopes for 2020 are that they finally claim the Premier League prize that has eluded them for so long.
Given how the team has performed this December, with the senior team winning all eight matches, even with the trip to Qatar, a Champions League title defence is still possible as well.
Up the Mentality Monster Reds!
Nick: It was a great 2019 for the Reds!
Three trophies and an almost unblemished league record with one loss and a few draws across the entire year, amazing.
In 2020, we need the league title to simply get it off our backs and I have no doubt more will then follow in the years to come!
Joanna: It’s hard to put the year into words, but it is by far the greatest of my time supporting the club.
The team is constantly evolving and to witness first hand the hunger and desire to win as many trophies as possible, where we have a real chance to lift everything we enter, is something that a few years ago, before Klopp’s arrival, you never thought would happen.
To go the entire year with a single league defeat is mindblowing and I feel at times I take it for granted.
But we are now the reigning champions of the world, Europe and now for 2020 I want us to cap it off as champions of England – which is looking increasingly likely by the day, but I still refuse to say it aloud in fear of jinxing it.
And who says we can’t lift our seventh European Cup either? 2020 is shaping up as one to remember, enjoy every moment of it Reds.