Football Features

“The Reds’ War Machine is roaring back to life” – Five things learned as returning fans lift Liverpool to Anfield win over Wolves

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 21:40, 6 December 2020

In an incredible night of football, Liverpool devastated Wolves 4-0 at Anfield.

The win took The Reds level with Spurs atop the Premier League (though José Mourinho’s men remain top on goal difference). What did we learn?

1. The fans have restored Anfield’s invincibility

Liverpool had been a bit sluggish lately. They got smacked around at Anfield by Atalanta, they were held by Brighton (and should have lost). Something was off, and it felt as though this could be the start of a wobble.

But then we got the game tonight, and suddenly it was like Liverpool from last season had returned. Wolves couldn’t get close to the Reds. And it all felt like fate as this was the first game where fans were allowed back into Anfield ever since that game against Atlético Madrid, where the invincibility of this great stadium was shattered.

After months away, missing the chance to see their players lift the Premier League trophy for the first time in 30 years, the Anfield faithful returned with new vigor and fully restored the hallowed halls of Anfield to their unconquerable best.

Because when you look at it, there’s no way that Liverpool should have won this game, with the players they had out, with the ferocity of their opponents, this simply should not have happened. And yet it did. They were the better team and picked up a huge win, why? because the Liverpool fans give their team an extra level of energy, an extra gear to go to. The Reds simply refuse to let them down.

2. Caoimhin Kelleher’s calming presence

Part of what made that Anfield defeat to Atlético Madrid so maddening was that it came almost exclusively because of Adrian in goal. Two massive errors led to two killer goals. And whenever he’d come in, he’d look shaky, but if Alisson was out what else could they do?

Well now they can call on Caoimhin Kelleher. The 22-year-old Irishman made his Liverpool debut in the Champions League this week and now made his Premier League debut and was just very, very solid.

Kelleher wasn’t diving all around his goal, he was just keeping goal. Doing the basics well, every time (he did make one pretty tasty save, to be fair) That’s something Adrian struggled with but it is one of Alisson’s greatest strengths. Kelleher replicates that sense of calm as he leaves his line to collect crosses or passes the ball well off each foot.

“He is calm, his personality is calm,” Klopp said after the match and he’s absolutely correct. That sense of calm is what Liverpool need back there. There cannot be another Alisson, but Liverpool couldn’t ask for a better back-up than Caoimhin Kelleher.

3. Wolves lack Raúl’s reference

Wolves gave it a good go at Anfield, and for the first-half they seemed to be in it really. They gave as good as they got, they just couldn’t make the most of any of their attacks. No matter how often Adama Traoré, Daniel Podence or Pedro Neto would beat their men and send balls into the box, nothing seemed to come of it.

The reason was simple: the lack of Raul Jimenez was brutal. The Mexican striker was seriously injured a week ago against Arsenal and Wolves today showed why they will struggle without his reference to bounce their mobile attackers off.

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4. Trent’s back

Something people often wondered would be how Liverpool would cope without their phenomenal creative wizard Trent Alexander-Arnold. The full-back went down with an injury against Manchester City and he’s missed the subsequent month of action (but only four Liverpool games thanks to the international break).

Still, the Reds did seem to lack something without him, and won just two of those four games, losing and drawing the others. Well, now he’s back. He came off the bench today with the score at 3-0 and within just 10 minutes he had created a goal with a cross of almost incomparable beauty. Poor Andy Robertson spent the whole game running up and down the left-flank putting in cross after cross with no joy and then this kid rocks up and does that so effortlessly.

It’s great for Liverpool, but very scary for everyone else.

5. Liverpool’s War Machine is roaring back to life

Despite the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, Liverpool hit a gear against Wolves that we’ve not seen much this season. Perhaps only Leicester have felt it so far and Leicester always get slapped by Liverpool so that’s a tricky one to gauge.

Wolves just couldn’t get going at Anfield. Every time they got past Liverpool’s midfield Fabinho shut them down. The elegant Brazilian strode about the pitch doing his best Van Dijk impression with a game-high 5 clearances.

Andy Robertson was great, Caoimhin Kelleher was commanding, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah simply electric (Salah’s goal was sensational). Gini Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson picked their moments to strike decisive blows. Alexander-Arnold returned with a bang.

Liverpool pushed forward, giving Wolves nothing but pouncing on every defensive mistake or break of the ball to gouge their visitors. This was their War Machine roaring back to life. This was them finding that stride which saw them gallop away from every other Premier League team last season.

Be afraid, be very afraid.