Johnson (og) (11), Suarez (38)
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Objective achieved namely the victory that every red wanted to see after two consecutive league defeats. It caps a week that started badly with defeat at Spurs however progress in the Cup and now this means things are rosier.
Throughout the course of the season we will be called on to display a variety of attributes. Sometimes we will be able to play football and sweep all before us however sometimes we need to dig deep, fight and hold what we have. In the second half Wolves, no doubt inspired by Mick McCarthy’s half time ear bashing / inspirational speech (delete according to choice) came at us however we did what the circumstances required of us and displayed an adaptability that should stand us in good stead for the variety of on field challenges and problems that will served up to us between now and May.
Kenny made two changes in defence from the Brighton game bringing in Skrtel, back from suspension, and Enrique for Robinson and Flanagan respectively. Adam, again back from standing on the naughty step, Downing, and Henderson replaced Maxi, Kuyt and Spearing in midfield. Andy Carroll, despite all the flack, replaced Bellamy up front. Steven Gerrard was on the bench again, slowly does it!
At the start Wolves took the initiative pushing us back but without chiselling out too many bona fide opportunities in the final third. The nearest they came was a scuffed, off balance effort from O’Hara that Reina collected easily. However, slowly but surely the game found the level that many expected and things began to swing our way, a corner here, a charged down shot there and on eleven minutes we finally got our just deserts although, given the nature of the goal, Wolves will probably disagree.
Kelly’s cross was cleared and eventually ended up at Adam’s feet. His shot from outside the area was deflected off Johnson into the net. Adam turned away and celebrated as if as if the deed was his however it was an definite own goal, the ball was going wide before Johnson’s bonce intervened. Wolves, seemed to have good reason to dispute the goal as during Kelly’s cross Carroll clattered and felled Johnson however, although this is sly on the visitors, it was a long overdue piece of good fortune for us. Is it any coincidence that the referee’s surname was Friend?
The goal seemed to buoy us and dishearten Wolves and set off a procession of chances. Carroll was to the fore, heading down Downing’s corner which Hennessey had to dive low to stop, and then providing a dangerous cross that Suarez was unlucky not the get a boot onto. Suarez was perpetual motion giving the Wolves defence plenty to think about he was continually making positive runs and flirting with their off side trap. After a few abortive attempts he hit pay dirt running onto Enrique’s through ball. The Wolves defence got back however Suarez swirled and shuffled produced the footballing equivalent of a rabbit from his sleeve and then a glove puppet from the other, said “look over there” and thus completely bamboozled Berra allowing our man to wrinkle out a gap and thrash it past Hennessey.
Suarez nearly got a second through picking up Downing’s through ball and waltzing through a static Wolves defence before prodding it wide with the outside of his left foot. However, whatever McCarthy said at half time it seemed to have the desired effect. I guess when you are 2-0 down with half the game to go there s only one route you should take and it paid dividends with Fletcher getting on the end of Hunt’s cross. Almost immediately we responded with Hennessey saving point blank from Suarez. Then Carroll hit the post from Downing’s cross.
Carroll’s form hasn’t been the best this season but, for no special reason he seems to be the focus of attention this week perhaps he’s been, unfairly held as scapegoat for the Stoke and Spurs defeats? However in this match, although looking a little behind in the anticipation stakes at times, he got into some good positions and can consider himself unlucky to not to be on the score sheet? More importantly it was a tiny reminder to his critics to not give up him and not be so premature in their judgment.
As the second half unravelled it was clear that Wolves were more of a force to be reckoned with and Doyle should have made more of Jarvis’ cross however, for every chance they had we made one (I think I’m trying to say it was end to end stuff) for example Downing and Carroll (that lazy git again!) combined to set up Lucas whose shot was inches wide. Suarez was eventually substituted by Gerrard. I think he saw this game as a good opportunity to increase his goal tally and in kicking a water bottle showed his frustration at being pulled off! However, in doing so he also missed just how much the fans had appreciated his performance!
Gerrard had a few shots and some good runs however it was more a case of shoring things up and winding things down to ensure that Wolves were kept at bay and not allowed to nick a point. We should be pleased we did this but it was a small reminder, for Gerrard and the team, that it is still work in progress. Nonetheless, for player and team, it was an encouraging day.
Liverpool: Reina; Jose Enrique; Carragher; Kelly; Skrtel; Henderson (Kuyt 71); Downing; Lucas; Adam; Suarez (Gerrard 81); Carroll Substitutes: Doni, Coates, Flanagan, Gerrard, Spearing, Kuyt, Bellamy
Wolverhampton: Hennessey; Stearman (Doherty 46); Ward; Johnson; Berra; Edwards (Fletcher 46); Henry; Hunt (Guedioura 81); Jarvis; O’Hara; Doyle Substitutes: De Vries, Elokobi, Doherty, Hammill, Milijas, Guedioura, Fletcher