In a game that Liverpool could easily have lost, after a listless first-half display, they ran out 3-1 winners, after trailing at half-time. Goals from Gakpo, Robertson, and Elliot eventually tamed a Wolves side, who in the first half, hunted in packs, and easily overran their opponents to take a deserved lead.
Early kick-offs rarely illicit a stellar performance from Liverpool, but for 45 minutes, this was a horror show. Hesitant, lethargic, lacking in purpose, all over the pitch, Liverpool were put to the sword by a rampant Wolves and were rewarded with a goal inside five minutes. Huge gaps at the back, leading to a relative tap-in for Hwang. Those gaps persisted, and but for a little luck, and profligate finishing by the Molineux outfit, Liverpool could so easily have conceded at least three, as they did in this fixture last season.
A midfield of Jones, who struggled throughout, Mac Allister, who played as though he’d travelled halfway around the world, after playing at altitude in the last 48hrs, (funny that), and Szoboszlai, were never at it. Klopp surprisingly only made one change to the trio at half-time, bringing on Diaz for the World Cup winner. There was immediately more forward intent to Liverpool, and pressure put on Wolves to win back the ball, a strategy entirely absent in the first half, eventually saw Gakpo score from close range, after an assist from Salah.
Showing the belief to go on and win, whilst Wolves simply sat behind the ball, further chances came and went, as Elliot and Nunez provided their team with the energy that the side lacked in the opening 45 minutes. Nunez probably should have scored from close range, choosing to take a touch, rather than a first-time shot, which allowed the Wolves keeper to smother, but he gave Liverpool a point of attack, and eventually possession and pressure told. However, not many would have imagined it would be Andy Robertson to put Liverpool in front.
Robertson, at fault during the week against England, found Salah on the edge of the box, continued his run, and receiving the ball just yards out, stroked it sublimely into the net. Like a seasoned strike, he allowed the ball to simply run across his foot, as he glanced it home. Robertson’s goals are infrequent but often decisive, and putting his team ahead after the 80th minute, brought obvious delight, to both himself, his teammates, and to a travelling Kop, again subjected to tragedy shouting by a grim Wolves crowd.
With the addition of 8 extra minutes, Elliot, who again brought some dynamism and much-needed energy to midfield, secured the three points for Liverpool. Though technically an own goal, his strike, deflecting off a hapless Wolves defender, before striking an upright, and trickling into the net, was richly deserved. The extra minutes provided chances for further goals and also saw the introduction of the latest acquisition, Ryan Gravenberch, who became the 800th player to represent Liverpool.
So a hard-fought, and not entirely convincing, 3-1 victory, saw Liverpool top the Premier League, however temporarily. It also demonstrates this team has the grit and personality to win difficult games, when far from their best. A quality they’ll need in abundance if they are to maintain a realistic challenge for the title.