Before I get into anything else, I wish to send Rui Patricio the most heartfelt wishes for a full and rapid recovery. When I first saw Coady clatter into him I was still celebrating Salah’s goal; but on replay, as I saw the Wolves’ keeper’s head snap back, it was easy to forget about the offside. Which, by the way, was much closer than they made it up to be on TV.
Get better soon, Rui.
It seemed almost cosmically inevitable that, at least from Wolves’ perspective, were the Reds to finally string a couple of wins in a row together (I’m counting Leipzig for this purpose) by grabbing all three points at Molineux, it would be Diogo Jota who would be the culprit. The Liverpool frontline has been misfiring badly lately, but Jota’s return to the squad has coincided with an increased overall threat level, and his goal today was no surprise. Contrary to the commentator’s remarkably poor description of it, the strike itself was absolutely gorgeous, coming as it did without controlling the ball first and applying an almost MacGyverishly dramatic and highly toxic level of backspin to the finish. Physics did the rest, and it was ultimately the sole reason Patricio’s deflection failed to route the ball around the post. You often see these kinds of shots in Snooker, less so on the football pitch.
Jota simply hasn’t caught the confidence disease. Give him a couple more games to get back into full playing shape coming back from his injury, and he might well prove the antidote.
Patricio’s late injury gave us an unfortunate opportunity to see some of the new rules in play, including the (welcome) unlimited head injury substitutions. It also broke Liverpool’s momentum, and it was only Fabio Silva’s lack of experience combined with an unexpected nudge in just the right moment from a teammate that stopped him from actually heading a ball in and the hosts from drawing level on the 105th minute. In that, Wolves players effectively did in the attack what they did to their keeper in defense.
Even so, one must give credit to those young centerbacks that are forming up a decent partnership in the Reds’ defense, as both Kabak and Phillips continue to improve both independently of each other as well as a unit. It’s hard for me to decide to which of them to award man-of-the-match, but it has to be one of those two. Maybe Phillips for his crucial last-second interventions and general fearlessness, maybe Kabak for a couple of his own and his impressive positioning. Take your pick, really.
To try and regain a top-four spot will require a few more wins, but it’s definitely within reach, as Liverpool seems to have an easier schedule than all those that are above them for the remainder of the season, at least on paper. It would take a streak. But all winning streaks start with one victory. Now let’s try to make it two.
Or three, if we’re still counting Leipzig.