Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Torres 36, 90 Meireles 50
Another small step on the road to recovery. A much improved performance and away from home. It’s probably too early to read anything into this re continuity and consistency but things have been looking up and yesterday was the first tangible sign of this. Wolves seemed intent on repeating their performance at Anfield by denying us space and time however, even though that game was less than month ago, this was a different Liverpool side.
Kenny made one change from the Everton game bringing in Poulsen for Spearing.
It was a robust start with challenges and tackles holding no quarter. The first causality was not a Liverpool player but Berra who I think “headed” one of his own players, stitches were required. However he managed to save the day for Wolves in the first chance of note. Johnson threaded a neat ball between two Wolves defenders to find the onrushing, untracked Lucas. His cross found Poulsen whose shot was charged down by Berra. That was an attacking move involving two holding midfielders and a defender. Such freedom to roam was to be theme of the match.
All in all it was a good opening for us we took the game to Wolves probing for openings forcing them, the home side, to get players back behind the ball in numbers. Because of this perhaps we needed to mix things up a bit and sure enough the next chance game from a Meireles long ball. This was picked up by Torres however, Hennessey, in the Wolves goal, saved well. Next it was Torres’ turn to return the compliment back heeling to Meireles. His shot, from the outside of the area, flashed across the goal. After this Maxi executed a good turn and shot, from Torres’ pass.
It’s been suggested this season that Torres has been ploughing too much of a lone furrow up front but the most noticeable thing about yesterday was that we had created four decent chances from different players, Poulsen, Torres, Meireles and Maxi and others seemed to be encouraged to go forward. Perhaps Kenny is finally addressing the loneliness of the Spanish striker issue by allowing players more leeway to get forward and support him whereas under HRH they “knew their place”, seemingly, keeping to a rigid system which often lead to Torres being isolated?
Our pressure got it’s just deserts in the fiftieth minute when Meireles picked up Poulsen’s pass and closed in on goal. The shot was on but he took the easier and safer option and squared to Torres on the edge of the six yard area, 1-0 a deserved lead as the teams went in for half time. After scoring Torres handed the ball back to Stearman who had attempted to rough him up on and off the ball…. enough said!
To the second half and inevitably memories of last week, when we conceded two goals in the first seven minutes, came back. However, no repeat performance this time. After only five minutes Berra headed away Torres’ high ball however it fell to Meireles who produced a stunning looping effort from the edge of the area into the top corner. It was superb strike that seemed to defy gravity (why didn’t it end up in row Z?), no keeper would have got near it.
Much attention has been focused on the impact Kenny has made on Fernando Torres. However perhaps they should also stop to consider Raul Meireles, that is two cracking goals in two games? More relevantly, and I’m sure Kenny would cede to this, those who heralded Meireles at Anfield last Sunday and yesterday should remember that he is Roy Hodgson signing emphasising that perhaps both players and managers need time before their full potential is realised?
I guess being 2-0 up with 40 minutes to go there is always the danger of complacency, sub-consciously sitting back and inviting the opposition on to you? There was an element of this Fletcher went close with a shot that Reina could only beat away luckily there was no one following up. Wolves had a number of free kicks however, rather than sitting back and opting to weather the storm, we adopted a “best form of defence is attack” mode. Torres and Meireles combined again to set up Shelvey (on for Poulsen) his first touch allowed the Wolves defender to take closer order and then he was forced to hurry his shot which ended going over the bar. A goal for Jonjo would have made for a nice symmetry he was signed from Charlton and later in the day Nathan Eccleston, on loan to the same club from us, scored for them against Plymouth. Wolves continued to be game. Zuber headed wide and Hammill, an ex red, missed a sitter, Doyle and Fletcher continued to test us however we held firm which, after recent back four performances, must be a massive plus?
With a few minutes left Wolves seemed resigned to their lot and we wound down the clock making umpteen passes to the strains of “The Fields of Anfield Road”. As ever when everyone is resigned to the result concentration slips and Kuyt broke free. His attempt on goal was thwarted but, in a rare piece of luck for this season, the ball broke kindly for Torres who smashed it into the roof of the net to complete a moral boosting day for the players and fans. Me? “pass and move” or whatever, I’m just glad that it was a Liverpool game that I really enjoyed and it seems ages since I’ve been able to write that.
Wolverhampton: Hennessey, Stearman, Ward, Berra, Zubar, Henry, Hunt (Hammill 72), Jarvis, Milijas, Fletcher, Doyle, Substitutes: Hahnemann, Craddock, Mouyokolo, Jones, Hammill, Davis, Vokes
Liverpool: Reina, G Johnson, Agger, Kelly, Skrtel, Meireles, Maxi (Aurelio 81), Lucas, Poulsen (Shelvey 73), Torres, Kuyt Substitutes: Gulacsi, Aurelio, Kyrgiakos, Cole, Spearing, Shelvey, Pacheco