31 January 2012

Liverpool 3-0 Wolves

Carroll 52'
Bellamy 61'
Kuyt 78'

The result implies dominance, and Liverpool were fairly dominant throughout, but 3-0 did not look likely at half-time.

Sure, had Liverpool taken one of their multiple first half chances, most notably from Kuyt in the third minute, or had Anthony Taylor given Adam an absolutely dead certain penalty in the 35th, the side might have strolled to victory sooner. But after 45 minutes, Liverpool were ruing a lack of control in midfield, poor finishing, and worse refereeing. Not for the first time.

The second half destroyed that notion of further futility quite quickly, as all three strikers made the score sheet. Quickly changing ends after a Wolves corner, with Bellamy nearly set free by a long-range Enrique pass, Liverpool quickly scored from the resulting throw-in. A quick throw from Bellamy, an inch-perfect cross from Adam, and Carroll beating his marker, volleying a low shot past Hennessey. All before the defense had settled thanks to Enrique shifting defense to attack in a moment's notice. Not for the last time.

Nine minutes later, Liverpool's in-form striker sealed the result, finally thanks to the first opposition goalkeeper error of the season. From his own half, Spearing spread to ball to Bellamy on the left flank, given more than enough space to cut in from the left, curling a shot which Hennessey, by all rights, should have parried behind. Maybe what goes around truly does eventually come back around. Kuyt hit the capstone with 12 minutes to play, again started by Enrique and set up by Adam. The left back embarrassed Frimpong just outside Liverpool's box, beating the midfielder with both strength and pace, before blistering a cross-field 60-yard pass to a wide-open Kuyt on the right. The Dutchman passed to Adam and moved into space, and Adam returned the favor after three defenders converged on the ball, with everyone surprised Adam didn't attempt to go it alone when in possession in the penalty box. Kuyt's low finish from a narrow angle was cool, collected, and excellently placed.

Scoring was the most notable second-half improvement, perpetually the most needed improvement, but Liverpool's improvement began with better control in midfield. With Spearing busily chasing all over the pitch in the first 45 minutes, Wolves found it easy to carve through Liverpool at times. I'm adamant that Adam does some good things which are overshadowed by more obvious bad things, but covering for his midfield partner and staying in position are clearly not his strong points. However, in the second half, Spearing seemed more comfortable staying at home, playing more like Lucas usually plays: sitting deeper, covering defenders by sprinting from one flank to the other rather than eagerly charging forward and pressing high up the pitch, which can leave gaps at the back.

To be fair to the home side, they weren't the worst opposition Liverpool's faced this season. Unlike Aston Villa's 90 minutes of insipid torpor, Wolverhampton at least threatened a few times, especially during Liverpool's shaky first half. Edwards' flick forced a decent save from Reina in the 12th, Fletcher headed onto the roof of the net from a quick corner in the 28th, Kightly curled a shot wide in the 40th, and Ebanks-Blake nearly blasted in a hapax legomenon consolation from absolutely nowhere in the 86th.

Nonetheless, Liverpool will have few matches easier than this. It's welcomed relief to comprehensively beat a side that Liverpool expects to beat, one of the rare times that's happened this season, especially over the last few months. 3-0 for the second-straight match on this ground. "Can we play here every week?"

Bellamy was again Liverpool's star man, a constant threat, with twice as many shots on target as the next closest player and now Liverpool's top scorer in the league with his sixth goal in his last six league starts. But at least he had competition from other attackers this time. Carroll continues to improve, looking like a switch might have flicked: constantly closing down defenders, finding more attackers with flick-ons, and notching Liverpool's opener after getting behind covering midfielder Jonsson. Henderson was surprisingly energetic after his exertions in the last two matches, while Kuyt finally got his 50th league goal, scoring for the second-consecutive match. Both deeper midfielders were better after the break, Spearing for the reasons mentioned earlier and Adam for two more assists to extend his team-leading amount.

Winning becomes a habit. Too often, we've seen Liverpool disappoint in these matches and come out worse after the interval after failing to take advantage of a bright start. Not today. No matter the opposition's deficiencies, more of that please. It'll be needed with the run of fixtures Liverpool have ahead.


David Whitmore said...

Hapax legomenon!!!

vinnie said...

Bellamy is dependable as usual, but am really delighted with Carroll, not just for the goal but his performance throughout the 90 mins. he may not look like £35M goal scoring machine but he resembles the oh-so-underrated Heskey, working hard for the team for now. hopefully more to come in the future, that is why Dalglish has faith in his players

Alcatrazzledazzle said...

Awesome write up per usual. Does anyone else think Bellamy is externally powered by sight of the ball? It seems like every time he's competing in a chase down for possession, once he sees the orb in front of him he turns on extra boosters.

Anyways my point is Bellamy's power should be studied as a potential renewable resource.

cezar said...

It should be noted that Carroll won the header in our box that led to Enrique's pass to Bellamy, that led to the throw-in to Adam, that led to Carroll's goal.