Versatility shines as “champions-elect did what champions do” – Media on Wolves 1-2 Liverpool

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The media praised Liverpool’s versatility and mentality in the 2-1 victory at Wolves, and assessed the win as the Reds’ most hard-fought of season.

The relentless red machine churned out another priceless three points as Roberto Firmino’s brilliant late finish snatched victory at Molineux.

This was one of the wins of the season for Liverpool, who showed incredible character to dig in and find the route to success against an excellent Wolves side.

It felt like a gargantuan win—one which leaves Jurgen Klopp’s side needing nine more to claim the big prize—and here is all the key analysis from the media.

 

Reporters felt this was Liverpool’s toughest game of the season so far, and therefore one of the most impressive wins…

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool wom 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty assessed as such, but praised the Reds for doing what title-winning teams do in finding a route to success:

“Liverpool were arguably put under more pressure here at a vibrant Molineux than at any time in the Premier League this season—but the champions-elect did what champions do and found a way to get the job done.”

The Mirror’s Andy Dunn assessed this win as undoubtedly the best during Liverpool’s 14-game winning streak:

“Fourteen Premier League wins on the spin and none should have given them more pleasure than this one because this was the hardest fought.”

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe reserved a word of praise for the impressive Nuno Espirito Santo for producing a brave tactical plan which took the game to Klopp’s side and caused serious problems:

“In Nuno Espirito Santo, at least English football can identify a coach with an idea of how to make life uncomfortable for the league leaders. By some distance, Wolves have been the toughest league opponents Klopp has faced this season.

“There are plenty of others who should feel embarrassed by the timidity of their approach and scrutinise Nuno’s template, even if they may argue he too fell as short. Only just.”

 

Members of the media were full of praise for Liverpool’s versatility and set-piece prowess…

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bascombe explained how Liverpool’s ability to score from almost any situation makes them so hard to stop, and feels that Klopp’s elite tactical foresight provides an advantage:

“Those who have previously attacked this Liverpool team were killed on the counter-attack, while their extraordinary unbeaten run has materialised because of a maturity when monopolising the ball. Teams who packed their defence once frustrated Liverpool. Now they offer reassurance the winning goals are sure to come.

“For every rival coach, it must sometimes feel Klopp is already a move ahead, their tactical discussion a means of avoiding inevitable checkmate.”

The Mirror’s Neil Moxley applauded Liverpool’s proficiency at set-pieces and believes that this has added an extra dimension to their play, which has been key to the title surge:

“A factor that has perhaps been lost in all the plaudits that have rained down on them is the Reds’ proficiency at set-pieces.

“When Jordan Henderson nodded home the opener in the eighth minute it was the 15th time this season that the champions-elect had found the net from deadball situations. That is two more than their nearest rivals and that has gone a long way towards confirming their superiority at the top of the Premier League.”

Dunn labelled the Reds “set-piece specialists” and applauded the attention to detail Klopp has brought to ensuring such opportunities are maximised:

“For all their fluidity, incisiveness and intuition, Liverpool have developed into set-piece specialists.

“Leaving nothing to chance, Klopp demanded an overhaul of their dead ball approach a couple of years ago and it has paid the sort of dividend that put his side in front here. It was not the cleanest of efforts but it was training ground excellence.”

On Liverpool’s versatility, Moxley also noted how the Alisson-Salah link-up was evident again and explained how this is now another genuine threat in Liverpool’s play:

“Does it now form part of the Reds’ goal threat? It was noticeable early on at Molineux that goalkeeper Alisson was seeking out the Egyptian every chance he got.

“It nearly paid off too, Alisson belting the ball miles upfield the minute he had it in his hands. Wolves had not left a man over and only just escaped with the predatory Salah sniffing out another glory shot.”

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's Sadio Mané during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Shaun Reynolds saw a slight concern with how Klopp’s team struggled to impose their normal game after Sadio Mane was forced off through injury:

“The biggest negative from this evening is without question how Liverpool played following Sadio Mane‘s injury.

“The visitors lacked energy, speed and forward-thinking once the 27-year-old was forced off after half an hour.”

 

Journalists were in awe of Liverpool’s mental strength and sheer refusal to be denied…

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (R) celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mail’s Ian Ladyman was full of admiration for the Reds’ unshakeable belief in pursuit of victory:

“This is one of the things that makes Liverpool so impressive, so great. No matter how a game goes—and this one did not go their way for long periods—they never think that they will do anything other than prevail.

“As a sporting mindset, it would be worth something if it came in a bottle.”

And it is this “rock-solid mentality” that is so vital to getting over the line in games when it just doesn’t quite click, in the view of the Echo’s Paul Gorst:

“While the Reds, almost to a man, endured something of a rare off night, that rock-solid mentality once more came to the foreground.

“It is an unshakeable, irrepressible mindset more than anything else that has put Liverpool on the brink of title glory. It is now 11 games that have been won by a one-goal margin. Somehow, they always end up on the right side of history.”

The Independent’s Melissa Reddy complimented Liverpool for retaining focus and maintaining the elite performance level so well since claiming World Club Cup glory in Qatar:

“Analysts and the club’s rivals had circled the section of the schedule post-Qatar as The Bit When Liverpool Slip. Instead, they have won six, scored 12 and conceded one.”

Neil Jones, writing for Goal, was full of praise for the way in which Klopp’s side have navigated what has been a traditionally tricky month to emerge with five wins so far:

“If January was to be month to test them, to stretch them, well they have risen to the challenge.

“This was their fifth win of the month, each of them vital, each of them requiring every ounce of courage and togetherness.”

 

Certain individual performances were praised by the watching journalists…

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool wom 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Evening Standard‘s David Lynch awarded his man-of-the-match vote to the “utterly imperious” Virgil van Dijk:

“Utterly imperious across the 90 minutes. Made the Wolves players look foolish every time they attempted to beat him for pace or strength.”

McNulty was most impressed with Jordan Henderson, writing that the captain is “in the best form of his career” currently:

“At the heart of it all was captain Henderson, unsung for so long but now in the best form of his career.

[…]

“He has grown in stature, along with Liverpool, in these last two seasons and is now the heartbeat of this outstanding team. His influence in increasingly recognised and he was the driving force as Liverpool ground out a win in such a difficult environment.”

The Mail’s Daniel Matthews singled out the outstanding Trent Alexander-Arnold, highlighting how the right-back has become an unstoppable force:

“The issue has been finding a way to stop him. Here he touched the ball more than anyone on the pitch.

“If England can harness the 21-year-old’s creative talents they will cause anyone problems at the Euros.”

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's match-winning goal-scorer Roberto Firmino (L) celebrates with goalkeeper Alisson Becker after the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool wom 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Finally, the Echo’s Ian Doyle praised Firmino for showing the character to bounce back from and fire the winner, noting how this embodied Liverpool’s “unshakeable belief”:

“His decisive strike six minutes from time to earn a 2-1 triumph was evidence of the unshakeable belief and strength of mind that has now stretched Liverpool’s lead at the summit to 16 points.

[…]

“A big moment, the Brazilian could have dwelt on it. Let it affect him. Instead, he provided an even greater contribution moments later, moving Jordan Henderson‘s cute pass from right foot to left, wrong-footing the defence in the process and then hammering into the top corner.”

 

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