Kenny Dalglish picked up his first victory in his second spell in charge of Liverpool FC today as his Reds side swept Wolves aside with a 3-0 win at Molineux.
Just 24 days after the same side lost tamely at home against the then-bottom-of-the-league Wolverhampton outfit, Liverpool turned in a performance so far removed from that tepid and listless defeat that it is difficult to believe the new manager has had only a couple of weeks to turn around the Reds’ on the pitch fortunes.
Dalglish made just one change from the side which drew against Everton last week, with the oft-maligned Dane Christian Poulsen coming into midfield for Jay Spearing. Wolves also made one midfield change from their last match with Karl Henry replacing Mark Jones.
The first half was a scrappy affair for the most part, with Wolves keen on launching the ball towards forwards Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher at every opportunity, looking for the runs of the midfielders coming onto the second ball to pressure Liverpool around the edge of their own penalty box. For all their rugged approach to attacking however, the home side failed to create any chances of note and Reina remained largely untroubled in the Liverpool goal, save for a few crosses and set pieces he needed to pluck out of the air.
On the part of Liverpool, Glen Johnson and Lucas linked well down the left side to tee up a chance for Poulsen, but his shot was blocked, before a Meireles strike from the edge of the box rolled just wide of the far post. Fernando Torres had perhaps the best opportunity of the opening exchanges when he turned neatly inside his marker but his left footed effort was beaten away by Wolves ‘keeper Hennessey.
Liverpool had dealt well with everything Wolves had thrown at them and were certainly matching them for desire in the midfield scrap but the Reds were also passing the ball about well at every opportunity; difficult enough a feat considering the state of the pitch.
Meireles and Lucas in particular were causing problems for the Wolves defence with their runs from deep and it was one such run from the former which led to Liverpool’s first goal; Poulsen set Meireles away down the inside right channel and as he drew out the goalkeeper, the Portuguese schemer simply rolled the ball across the six yard box for Fernando Torres to tap home.
The half time lead was a deserved one for the Reds, who had played the better football without totally dominating the game.
Against Everton Liverpool were caught cold after the break as they conceded in the opening minute; this time round there was no such danger as the Reds came out looking for a second goal of their own – which Dirk Kuyt should have given them just minutes into the second period as he ran clear through, only to be denied by the Wolves goalkeeper.
Liverpool didn’t have long to wait though as Meireles scored his second goal for the Reds in consecutive games. A cross into the Wolves area was headed away to the number 4, who smashed in a first time volley which looped perfectly over Hennessey into the top corner of the net.
From that point on Liverpool were largely in control of the game and though the defensive line dropped deeper to combat Wolves crosses from wide, the counter-attack threat remained and the Reds always tried to get players forward in attack at every opportunity.
Wolves gave ex-Red reserve player Adam Hammill a debut with twenty minutes remaining and he could’ve scored with almost his first touch, swiping at a pull back just moments after Liverpool sub Shelvey could’ve done the same; his shot from a Meireles pass flying wide of the post.
Liverpool closed out the game by passing through the Wolves midfield and a magnificent passage of possession football led to the final goal; an excess of thirty consecutive passes leading to Kuyt bearing down on goal before he turned inside the last defender and the ball broke for Torres to lash high into the net with his left foot.
Plenty of positives for Liverpool with just their second away win over the season lifting them, temporarily at least, into the top half of the table and with Fulham at home to come during the week, the Reds will look to build up some momentum now with a run of results.
Meireles had a fantastic game for Liverpool with his runs from deep and finding space in the final third between Wolves’ midfield players, and his link-up play with Torres was a fine sight to behold for Reds fans starved of attacking intent in the first half of this season. Lucas was also a key player in the heart of the pitch and combined some good passing with his usual hard work and timely challenges.
Dalglish’s team have put in some improved performances since he stepped in as manager without getting the results – today Liverpool achieved both to rack up a convincing win away from home, keeping a clean sheet in the process.
With Steven Gerrard due to return from suspension and increased speculation over transfer targets such as Luis Suarez coming to the club, Liverpool’s season has never looked brighter than it does right now, testament to the fine job King Kenny has done in the short time since his arrival.