Player ratings as Reds shambles continues with heavy loss
Wolves capitalised on another awful Liverpool performance to run out 3-0 winners at Molineux thanks to Joel Matip’s own goal and strikes from Craig Dawson and Ruben Neves.
Matip deflected cross off the post and in just five minutes into proceedings before Dawson smashed home as the Reds failed to clear a free kick.
A clinical counter attack in the second half saw Neves stroll into the box to convert Adama Traore’s pass, lifting Wolves out of the relegation zone and into 15th, nine points behind Liverpool in tenth.
Julen Lopetegui’s side made a brilliant start as they went 2-0 up inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Hwang Hee-chan collected Matheus Nunes’ punt over the top and his cross found its way past Alisson, deflecting off Matip, onto the post and in.
The lead was doubled in the 12th minute. Ruben Neves’ free kick was collected in the box by Matheus Cunha, whose cross flicked off Joe Gomez and into trouble. Max Kilman’s header was blocked but Dawson eventually lashed the ball powerfully into the roof of the net.
Liverpool’s recent malaise continued at Molineux with some horribly sloppy play, with Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo completing just seven accurate passes between them in the first half. Jose Sa was required to keep out Nunez, who saw his curling effort beaten away after being played in by Thiago.
Matip’s rough afternoon as some sleepy defending nearly allowed Nunes to net Wolves’ third, but the 24-year-old could only shoot straight at Alisson.
Liverpool found some renewed attacking vigour in the second half as Naby Keita fired towards goal and into Kilman via a deflection. The visitors asked for a penalty but were left frustrated without one.
Goalscorer Dawson was in a generous mood at the back as he gifted the ball straight to Gakpo. The Netherlands international picked out Salah on the right, but his finish lacked force and drifted harmlessly wide.
Nunez latched onto a long ball over the top to bare down on goal, but he shot straight at Sa before Wolves killed the game off with a third goal on the counter attack.
Substitute Joao Moutinho won possession and sent a raking ball through to Adama Traore. The winger timed his pass perfectly for the untracked Neves to waltz through a
GK: Jose Sa – 7/10 – Made a few saves at important junctures in the game.
RB: Nelson Semedo – 7/10 – Solid in defence and cleared his lines frequently.
CB: Craig Dawson – 7/10 – Did belt in an absolute barnstormer of a strike but was also culpable of the odd defensive brain-fart here and there.
CB: Max Kilman – 8/10 – Made a couple of crucial blocks in the box and enjoyed causing some chaos in Liverpool’s box at set pieces.
LB: Rayan Ait-Nouri – 7/10 – Often on hand to clear danger out at the back and displayed some quick feet at times.
RM: Hwang Hee-chan – 6/10 – Played an important role in the opener, with his cross hitting Matip and going in. Industrious before being forced off through injury.
CM: Ruben Neves – 8/10 – Consistently broke play up with tackles to keep the visitors at the bay. Got forward to run onto Traore’s pass and finished well past Alisson.
CM: Mario Lemina – 7/10 – A little looser with the ball than most of his teammates but didn’t lack work rate.
LM: Matheus Nunes – 7/10 – Sharp on the ball and helped keep Liverpool’s right hand side of Salah and Alexander-Arnold quiet.
ST: Pablo Sarabia – 6/10 – A nice dribble here and there, but a few others impressed more-so than Sarabia.
ST: Matheus Cunha – 7/10 – Made a few darting runs and looked a threat in behind.
Adama Traore (42′ for Hwang) – 7/10 – His pace opened up the game late in the game. Held the ball long enough before setting up Neves.
Joao Moutinho (60′ for Sarabia) – 7/10 – Wonderful ball through to Traore set up Wolves’ third. Kept Wolves ticking over until full time.
Raul Jimenez (60′ for Cunha) – 6/10 – Had a couple of shooting opportunities and pressed well up front.
Julen Lopetegui – 8/10 – Managed to effectively nullify Liverpool’s attacking threat while exposing their extreme defensive frailties.
GK: Alisson – 6/10 – Made a couple of stops but was largely powerless to stop anything soaring past him.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 4/10 – A little too weak in defensive situations and set piece delivery was off.
CB: Joel Matip – 2/10 – Gave away a goal with bad positioning early on. Tried to bring Liverpool forward and played one or two nice passes, but kept gifting Wolves opportunities.
CB: Joe Gomez – 4/10 – Did win plenty in the air but struggled with Matip doing little help beside him.
LB: Andy Robertson – 5/10 – Didn’t lack fight and took on four shots without success.
CM: Naby Keita – 4/10 – Got into some very promising positions but poor finishing let him down consistently.
CM: Stefan Bajcetic – 5/10 – Showed some grit in midfield to clean up loose ball but was overwhelmed like the rest of Liverpool’s midfielders.
CM: Thiago – 4/10 – Fired some nice passes into the frontline but didn’t offer much when Wolves pressed forward.
RW: Mohamed Salah – 4/10 – Took on a couple of shots but neither were totally convincing. Needs more help around him.
ST: Darwin Nunez – 4/10 – Got in on goal a couple of times but failed to make Wolves pay. A familiar story.
LW: Cody Gakpo – 3/10 – Needs to show some physicality and get off the fringes of the game. Little to no impact.
Jordan Henderson (65′ for Keita) – 5/10 – Barked at his teammates a bit but the game had pretty much gone already.
Harvey Elliott (77′ for Bajcetic) – N/A
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (85′ for Gakpo) – N/A
James Milner (85′ for Thiago) – N/A
Kostas Tsimikas (85′ for Robertson) – N/A
Jurgen Klopp – 3/10 – Needs to find some remedies to this awful run Liverpool are on. They look sheepish and without direction at a crucial part of the season. Will welcome the imminent returns of a few injured first teamers.
Player of the Match – Ruben Neves
Jonas Eidevall hails dominant Stina Blackstenius performance in north London derby victory
Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall has heaped praise on forward Stina Blackstenius after her sensational showing in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Tottenham.
The Swede opened the scoring after just a few minutes and continued to lead the line with real dominance all game, creating plenty of chances for those around her in what turned out to be a comfortable victory.
Blackstenius’ performance did not go unnoticed by Eidevall, who took the time to praise the forward after the game.
“Every game poses different challenges, but Stina gave exactly what we needed at the start of the game by posing a threat from balls in-behind against a very compact Spurs’ team,” Eidevall told Sky Sports.
“I think it was very nice to see her take the first finish on her first touch when she first spots the goalkeeper a little bit out of position.”
On the wider performance, Eidevall continued: “I was very pleased with the performance. There are still some aspects of our game we need to get better at compared to the first half. I think our players were brilliant and were very well positioned in the second half. I think we could have controlled the game right from the start.
“I think it starts with the way we attack. We were well positioned. I think we constantly overloaded them out in the wide areas and set up players that can play forward with the ball. We are good at arriving into the box with pace. In the first half and the last ten minutes, we got a little bit complacent and a bit of standing still which suits Spurs’ really well. We didn’t get into that trap in the second-half and that was pleasing.”
The win keeps Arsenal in the WSL title race, moving the Gunners up to 35 points, two behind leaders Chelsea having played a game more.
Emma Hayes’ Blues are in action on Sunday against fellow title hopefuls Manchester City, who can blow the title race wide open with a win.
Why do Liverpool fans boo the England national anthem?
Few managers of the modern era have developed a bond with their club’s fanbase as strong as the link between Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
A rapidly stacked trophy cabinet has obviously helped Klopp win over Merseyside but the humble and honest German coach has forged such a deep connection with the people of Liverpool by taking time to understand the history and beliefs of the city.
However, even Klopp was left a little perplexed by the deafening swell of boos which his supporters delivered in response to the English national anthem ahead of the 2022 FA Cup final.
“I know our people that well that they wouldn’t do it if there was no reason for it,” Klopp reasoned, before admitting: “And I’m not here surely not long enough to understand the reason for it.”
Don’t worry, Jurgen, we’ve got you covered.
As a port city which has welcomed countless immigrants over the years, many Liverpudlians have an ancestral reason to not consider themselves English. The xenophobia and racism which remains a plague on these shores are not exactly a set of welcoming, open arms.
The term ‘Scouse’, which is a traditional stew, was originally used as a derogatory term for Irish immigrants that could only afford to frequent soup kitchens. But the city’s inhabitants have harnessed the slur and the sense of otherness it was meant to hold.
Engraved in in the wall of the Museum of Liverpool is a quote from the former Gronby councillor Margaret Simey in 1999 which reads: “The magic of Liverpool is that it isn’t England.”
Liverpool’s port points west, which was particularly unhelpful during the 1980s when trade with Europe on the other side of the Isles was being prioritised. Naturally, this only stoked the flames of a dire relationship between Liverpool and the British government.
“Never Trust A Tory” is another common banner which can been seen circulating the Liverpool end on trips to Wembley.
This distrust has only festered over the last decade of Conservative rule. Labour – the more left-wing opposition in England to the Conservatives – have not had a prime minister in power since Gordon Brown in 2010.
Unlike the rest of the country, Liverpool have not given in to the blue invasion. The Labour Party has received more than 50% of the city’s votes in every general election between 1992 and 2019.
This unwavering favouring of Labour came immediately after Margaret Thatcher’s unpopular reign as Conservative party leader and prime minister. Thatcher’s Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe argued that Liverpool should be left to “managed decline”, as revealed by cabinet papers from the era which fed the distrust of that regime on Merseyside. In the wake of the Toxteth Riots, Howe urged Thatcher “not to over-commit scarce resources to Liverpool”.
The Conservatives and Thatcher were also in power at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and their handling of the situation, over a course of a decades-long quest for justice, also enraged a wounded city and its people.
The Tory hatred wasn’t always so suffocating. When the Iron Lady became prime minister in 1979, Sir Malcolm Thornton was first elected as Conservative MP for Liverpool Garston.
However, the distrust very much extends to the modern era as Boris Johnson, when prime minister, was asked to apologise for publishing an article in the Spectator which accused Liverpudlians of “wallowing” in their “victim status” while he was the publication’s editor in 2004. Shockingly, he did not offer a sorry amid his blustering response.
At Liverpool’s first FA Cup final triumph in 1965, the travelling Merseyside support belted out “God Save Our Gracious Team”. For many reasons, Liverpool fans have opted for a blunter approach over the subsequent years.
Reece James withdraws from England squad due to ‘ongoing issue’
Reece James has left the England camp and returned to Chelsea due to an ‘ongoing issue’.
The right-back was expected to start Sunday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley after Kyle Walker played all 90 minutes of Thursday’s 2-1 win away at Italy. But James has failed to prove his fitness and will reconvene with Chelsea at their Cobham training base.
A statement from England read: “Reece James has withdrawn from the England squad and will not feature against Ukraine on Sunday.
“The full-back has returned to Chelsea for assessment on an ongoing issue.
“No replacements are planned as Gareth Southgate’s squad, including the suspended Luke Shaw, continue their preparations at Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground.”
Though James’ fitness record is patchy and he was suffering with a hamstring injury earlier this month, he joined up with the England squad this week having played 90 minutes in two of Chelsea’s final three games before the international break and was expected to be fit and healthy.
He came on as an 85th-minute substitute on Thursday for Bukayo Saka as 10-man England sought to hold onto their lead.
James missed England’s 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign after sustaining a knee injury in the autumn.
Chelsea will be hoping that James’ problem isn’t serious ahead of a busy month that sees them face the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Real Madrid.
James has already missed 17 games for Chelsea this season – 15 for his knee problem, one for a hamstring issue and one because of illness.
Prior to this season, James has been reported as to having nine other injuries during his time in the Chelsea senior setup, missing a total of 51 matches for the Blues.
On this edition of Son of Chelsea, part of the 90min podcast network, Daniel Childs reviews Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Everton & Graham Potter’s performance. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!
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