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Title race over as focus turns to Paris – 5 talking points from Liverpool 3-1 Wolves

Liverpool once again came close to winning the Premier League title in an eventful afternoon at Anfield, but there’s more to come this season.

Liverpool 3-1 Wolves

Premier League, Anfield
May 22, 2022

Goals: Neto 3′; Mane 24′, Salah 84′, Robertson 89′


A tense end to the title race

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 22, 2022: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It started sometime towards the end of the first half. Any relaxed sense of ‘it’s out of our hands’ disappeared.

Random supporters throughout the ground, the lucky few with a working internet connection, jumped up in celebration.

Nothing of note had happened on the pitch so this only meant one thing. Aston Villa had scored against Man City.

This mixture of tension and excitement spread throughout the ground and inevitably to the players.

Steven Gerrard’s name was sung around Anfield momentarily before the fans realised they needed to get behind the team in front of them. A team which was entertaining as usual but, most importantly, not yet winning.

Breaks for injuries added to the nerves. Wolves lost two of their better players in Pedro Neto and Jose Sa by half-time, and Liverpool lost their fulcrum, Thiago. But in terms of the overall impact, the three subs should have left Liverpool the stronger of the two sides.

Conor Coady is supposed to be a Liverpool fan? It was a very professional performance from him.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 22, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The next part happened fairly quickly. This time it was the Wolves fans celebrating (for some reason) as City scored three goals in five minutes.

It may have been a coincidence, but the winning Liverpool goal only came once City had taken the lead for the first time against Villa.

There was a brief false alarm when some in Anfield thought Villa had scored, but by the end of the game, everyone knew the Premier League title would not be part of Liverpool’s trophy haul this season.

 

A goal down again

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 22, 2022: Wolverhampton Wanderers' Pedro Neto celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was the fifth time in six games that Liverpool had gone a goal behind.

It felt similar to the previous game, against Southampton, in which Nathan Redmond opened the scoring before the Reds came back to secure the win.

Sa’s big boot to Raul Jimenez caught the defence out, and Neto was too quick for the recovering defenders to catch.

Liverpool struggled with the pace of Neto who kept getting in behind the high defensive line. Later in the first half, he sprinted through to set up Leander Dendocker.

The Liverpool defenders won’t have been too unhappy to see him go off.

As was the case against Southampton, they were able to come back into the game and win this battle, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to win the war.

 

Thiago’s injury

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 22, 2022: Wolverhampton Wanderers' Pedro Neto (L) is challenged by Liverpool's Thiago Alcântara during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Thiago lit up this game with a brilliant assist for Sadio Mane‘s goal, before leaving the game with an injury just before half-time.

If this means he’s also out for the Champions League final, he’ll be a big miss.

He’s a street footballer, with all the skills, the control and the technique that comes with that, but one who also has the vision and awareness to make this count in the 11-a-side game.

His assist for Mane’s goal was the perfect example of this. The knowledge of his team-mate’s run, the imagination he has to even think about making the pass he did, and then the ability to pull it off.

Before he went off he ran the game from that left-sided midfield position. Whenever any Liverpool player thinks they might be in trouble or feeling pressed and pressured by the opposition, they just pass it to Thiago.

Hopefully they’ll be able to do so once again on Saturday.

 

Salah’s golden boots

2J9CMB7 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah holds up the Premier League Golden boot award after the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Sunday May 22, 2022.

Mohamed Salah‘s late goal ensured he ended the season as the Premier League‘s top scorer along with Son Heung-min on 23 goals.

Son finished the season with the same number of goals as Salah having scored two against Norwich in Spurs’ final game.

Salah also won the Playmaker of the Season award, though, thanks to his 13 assists.

He edged team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold who racked up 12. Next was West Ham‘s Jarrod Bowen with 10.

 

To Paris

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 22, 2022: Liverpool'selebrates after scoring the second goalhamed Salah cg2 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The players, fans and everyone involved with the club can now turn their focus to the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris next weekend.

In terms of pressure situations, they don’t get much higher than the period in the game against Wolves where the title could be won, and this could be useful preparation.

The knock-on effect from the effort put in during this last league game could go one of two ways.

It could have taken so much out of the players that they will be tired, mentally and physically, for the game against Real Madrid after an already gruelling season.

Or, it could prove to the team that they can perform in such high-stakes situations. They have already won two cups this season after all.

Given the way Klopp can motivate his players, you would hope it’s the latter.

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