It was Liverpool’s eighth game of January and a win was needed in order to get their season back on track. Welcoming Championship side Wolves for the 4th Round of the FA Cup surely a win was on the cards.
After an awful display exactly a week ago against Swansea City in the league and being knocked out of the EFL Cup, the FA Cup was our only realistic chance of winning a trophy this season. It took two attempts to beat League Two side Plymouth Argyle in the previous round and after recent ‘Clear-the-air talks’ a response to their poor run of form in the new year had to happen.
Jurgen Klopp was expected to name a strong starting XI, however when I saw the team sheet I was a little disappointed. Suggestions of low morale within the squad makes you wonder why there weren’t more first team players starting. Surely the demolition of a Championship side with plenty of goals would have sent them bouncing all the way to face Chelsea on Tuesday.
Klopp’s decision is final. However for me, this alone highlights the lack of depth Klopp has. Something most of us would have hoped and thought would have been addressed already.
Liverpool: Karius; Randall (Coutinho 46′), Gomez, Klavan, Moreno; Lucas, Wijnaldum, Ejaria (Can 74′); Firmino (Sturridge 65′), Woodburn, Origi
Subs not used: Mignolet, Stewart, Milner, Wilson
- Klopp makes nine changes.
- Wolves score within first minute with Stearman header.
- Weimann adds another on the break before half-time.
- Referee waves away cynical penalty shout from Woodburn
- Origi claws one back with minutes left to play.
- Reds lose third consecutive home game for first time since 2012.
Within minutes Wolves won a free-kick, Costa sent an in-swinging cross met superbly by Stearman’s head. 1-0.
What actually happened was, the referee allowed the free-kick to be taken 10m ahead of where the foul was conceded. The linesman then forgot to lift up the flag when spotting 2 Wolves players, Stearman included, straying into an offside position.
Despite scoring in an offside position the goal stood. Liverpool were knocked for six.
Wolves threatened to score again, slicing through the lathergic Liverpool defence again. Liverpool continued to struggle to get a hold of the game and Wolves who had clearly watched the games Liverpool play against Plymouth, Swansea and Southampton. They knew and understood the blueprint.
Liverpool continued to struggle to create chances with Wolves camped on the edge of their penalty area, despite the best efforts of Ejaria, with the 19-year-old producing a series of dangerous flicks and tricks in the final third.
Wolves then delivered the killer blow, after a limp Liverpool attack, Costa lead the counter-attack threading the ball through to Weimann who rounded to Karius with ease. 2-0 to Wolves.
We are Liverpool Football Club, we have overcome far worse
Klopp was furious and rightly so. At half-time he had his opportunity to put things right. Liverpool Football Club have overcome far worse than this. Having 45 minutes to put things right Klopp brought off Randall who made his first and possibly last appearance for Liverpool this season. Sending on Philippe Coutinho as a replacement and a quick tactical switch to play 3 at the back, with Lucas playing deeper as a Centre-half.
The change allowed Moreno to stay away from our goal and play as a wingback and Woodburn to do the same on the other side. Providing they followed the tactical switch it would push the Wolves fullbacks out, allowing our attacking three more space against the two centre backs. The down side to that plan was that Moreno was involved in it, consistently drifting inside much to Klopp’s disgust.
We did gain some control, Coutinho who was now playing more centrally in order to gain more set up Moreno with an excellent through ball after combining with Ejaria, but the Spaniard was forced too wide to trouble. Klopp looked at then bench for inspiration and Sturridge was the answer. Now replacing Firmino, Sturridge had 30 minutes to answer his critics.
Liverpool were slowly growing desperate as the clock began to wind down. Ben Woodburn saw an opportunity attempting to win a penalty, possibly making too much from a challenge from Evans in the penalty area.
Wolves’ two-goal lead grew more comfortable as the contest played out, their defence was dropping further deeper. Corner after corner, still battling against a stubborn defence. Finally they committed a fatal error, with Sturridge able to head across goal for Origi to hammer home.
Sadly it wasn’t enough for the Reds, who exit their second cup tournament in four days as their campaign threatens to completely derail.
Will Klopp get it back on track? Will the squad respond?
The response and full justification will be to get three points against Chelsea on Tuesday night.