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“Shoots of recovery” grow as Jota & centre-backs impress – Media on Wolves 0-1 Liverpool

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The performances of Diogo Jota and the centre-backs in Liverpool‘s 1-0 win at Wolves were praised by the media, who feel this win gives the Reds hope in the top four race.

Jurgen Klopp’s side once again delivered the goods away from Anfield as Jota struck the winner on his return to Molineux.

Though far from a vintage performance it was a hard-fought victory and one that now gives the Reds some hope for the final nine games of the top-four race.

Here’s how the media reflected on a victorious night for Liverpool.

 

Reporters reflected on a confidence-boosting win and haven’t written off the Reds’ top-four chances just yet…

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, March 15, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (R) celebrates with team-mate Sadio Mané after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

The Mirror’s Samuel Meade assessed the victory as another step forward for Klopp’s side, and one which will help Liverpool’s pursuit of rediscovering the winning habit:

The Reds played like a side who are in the process of trying to remind themselves who they are.

[…]

Winning whilst playing well is for tomorrow, today they need to simply get back into the habit. It was a shaky win, but when you’ve only won once in seven league games confidence isn’t going to be sky high.

Richard Jolly, writing for the Independent, thought this was another “reminder of what they are still capable of”:

It can be ranked alongside the January triumphs at Tottenham and West Ham as reminders of what they are still capable of.

Penning his thoughts for Goal.com, Neil Jones noted how the Reds are now building up some useful momentum which could help spark a positive run:

They may not be flying, but they are certainly fighting still.

[…]

A hint of a momentum, in a campaign which has stalled since the Christmas decorations went up.

The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle sees the Reds gradually regaining the attributes lost and feels this can provide the spark needed to make a genuine fight from now until the end of the season:

But there are encouraging signs, not least the extra security provided by Fabinho in midfield and the no-nonsense defending of Nat Phillips that combined to help Liverpool repel the Wolves response.

Klopp’s side have regained a little steel, a little resilience, a little substance.

The BBC’s Steve Sutcliffe thought Klopp’s side showed “plenty of flickers of quality” which mean you cannot write the Reds off just yet:

But this result shows they cannot be discounted from being involved in the final reckoning when it comes to European places. As the first half developed so too did Liverpool‘s confidence.

And there were plenty of flickers of quality from the Reds, who had looked as though they were ready to pick up from where they left off last season when they so resoundingly won the reverse fixture 4-0 at Anfield in December.

Key to to the Reds properly challenging for a top-four finish over the last nine games will be making a vast improvement at Anfield, in the view of the Liverpool Echo’s Paul Gorst:

The green shoots of recovery might just be starting to sprout for the champions inside the final 10 games.

If they can rectify this unbelievable slump at Anfield then there might be something to salvage from the wreckage of 2020/21.

 

There was praise for the match-winner and a feeling that Jota’s return gives hope for a strong end to the season…

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, March 15, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (R) celebrates with team-mate Sadio Mané after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

Karl Matchett, writing for the Independent, was impressed by the sharpness of Jota’s finish and also noted how the goal-scorer excelled in his defensive work:

His direct running and willingness to take the shot on early was the big factor, catching Rui Patricio out a little at the near post with his weaker left foot.

[…]

Defensively it’s also worth noting his hard work for the team in much deeper areas: he often fell into the left-back area and the spaces in front of defence to help close out gaps, despite nominally starting as the Reds’ centre-forward.

Jones thinks Roberto Firmino has a tough task on his hands to get his place back, with Jota looking “more in tune with this team’s requirements” currently:

Liverpool have certainly missed him, and he certainly looks more in tune with this team’s requirements than Roberto Firmino has of late.

The Brazil forward was again absent with a knee issue here, but he faces a battle to regain his starting spot even when he is fit.

The Guardian’s Paul Doyle felt this game showed how key Jota will be to Liverpool’s end to the season on the domestic and European fronts:

His 10th goal for the Merseyside club since joining from Wolves last summer was his first since regaining fitness after a three-month lay-off and not only did it give Liverpool maximum points from a vibrant contest, it confirmed how important Jota is to Liverpool’s hopes of salvaging joy from a miserable season.

And the Mirror’s John Cross pondered on how differently Liverpool’s season would have panned out had Jota avoided injury:

It was Jota’s tenth goal of the season in all competitions for Liverpool and it does make you wonder what might have happened if he had not missed so many games himself through injury, not playing between December and March when his new team’s season fell apart.

 

Journalists were impressed with the Phillips-Kabak partnership and singled out other bright displays…

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, March 15, 2021: Liverpool's Ozan Kabak (L) and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Adama Traoré during the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe was pleasantly surprised at how “comfortable” the partnership looks already, and feels the recent consistent lineups have been key in that:

He [Klopp] could not have envisioned how comfortable the centre-back duo would look together, assisted though they are by Fabinho’s human shield. Kabak is looking more at ease with and without the ball in each fixture, while Phillips looks like he would try to head a recently fired cannonball.

[…]

Advantages such as continuity, familiarity, tempo, and the inclusion of quality players in their correct positions used to be considered reasonably important rather than an ‘excuse’.

Jolly assessed the performances of the new and improving Phillips-Kabak partnership as the biggest positive on the night:

Their last outstanding display at Anfield was a 4-0 thrashing of Wolves and while Liverpool did not touch such heights, they could take solace in solidity, their new-look defensive duo of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips keeping a third clean sheet together.

Matchett saw positive signs with the defensive duo and felt Kabak was particularly impressive:

The Nat PhillipsOzan Kabak partnership has started nicely, though, and the latter in particular took a big step here with another assured display.

His covering work was good, playing out from the back was done in accomplished fashion and he made several good challenges and clearances when stepping out of the deep line to avert any sustained pressure.

Fabinho’s performance in front of the central defenders impressed Gorst, who assessed that the Brazilian was “inspired” in his work protecting the Reds’ backline:

And perhaps the same can be asked of Fabinho, who once more sparkled at the base of Liverpool‘s midfield.

The Brazilian was inspired in the engine room, winning the ball, using it intelligently and, most crucially, providing a double-glazed screen for the impressive duo of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips at centre-back.

Though impressed with the defenders, Matchett assessed Sadio Mane “the best player on the park” and feels the Senegalese just needs a goal to give him the belief to get back to his best levels:

The Liverpool No. 10 was the best player on the park. He should have scored at least twice, he wasn’t in his absolute best form, but he did everything else – on and off the ball – that the manager could have asked of him.

[…]

A fine performance which leaves him just needing a league goal to be back to something like his finest.

Not all reviews were positive though, as Meade labelled Alisson’s performance “unconvincing”, with the Brazilian “giving off a sense of uncertainty” in the back-line currently:

Conceding goals in going to knock any goalkeeper’s confidence, but Liverpool‘s No 1 certainly does not look as assured as he once did.

[…]

But even basic actions are giving off a sense of uncertainty.

Now it’s a three-week break for the Reds, with international fixtures for some and a long spell of training and recuperation for others, before the final stretch with both league and Champions League wins to aim for.


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