Liverpool 2-2 Wolves
FA Cup 3rd Round, Anfield
January 7, 2023
Goals: Nunez 45′, Salah 52′; Guedes 26′, Hwang 66′
Alisson adds to defensive woes
The back four has been an issue for a number of months, and the Virgil van Dijk news which became public knowledge earlier this week added insult to an already painful injury.
Liverpool have conceded the first goal in 14 of the 26 games played in all competitions so far this season, a worrying statistic given that the habit began to creep in during the quadruple chase in May.
Alisson was arguably at fault for both goals on Saturday, following on from an unusually tough evening at Brentford, but if there is a man in the side who can be excused a minor blip at this moment in time it is surely the Brazilian No. 1.
Promising flashes from the new boy
It was a pleasant surprise to see a shiny new £44 million winger in the starting lineup, and in a tricky environment, Gakpo can be more than happy with his opening display.
There has been plenty of talk about where he will slot into this Liverpool side given the current options and his versatility, but the absence of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota presents something of an empty pathway for the Dutchman to mark his territory early doors.
He caused defenders a world of problems in the first half and linked up well with Nunez – all extremely positive signs in an otherwise concerning display from Liverpool at home to an inferior side.
Lack of excuses
Liverpool started with a side you’d expect to see in an important league game, and the opening 20 minutes reflected such.
Goncalo Guedes’ opener, however, took the wind from our sails far more than it ought to given the respective lineups.
Wolves, currently battling for their lives towards the foot of the table, fielded a much weaker side than would typically be expected, but a full-strength Liverpool gave them far too much encouragement and, very nearly, a free pass into the hat for the fourth round.
Goals from Nunez and Mohamed Salah got Liverpool back into the game, but the inability to see it out against a side with significantly bigger fish to fry is not the morale boost we were hoping for going into a game which ought to be a formality in the circumstances.
Nunez nicks one
It has been a bizarre few weeks of Nunez coverage in the media, but it was a real joy to see him get on the scoresheet and revel in it as much as he did.
The price tag was always likely to attract attention but anybody who has watched the Uruguayan in recent weeks can scarcely argue with the impact he has made in every game he has stepped foot in.
He bamboozles defenders and dazzles supporters in equal measure whenever he tests the opposition, and despite the disappointing result his goal could potentially be the most positive event to come from the evening.
His reaction showed real defiance – a man clearly unphased by the noise surrounding his form in front of goal – and although the game didn’t have the end we hoped for there is every chance that the goal could put Nunez back on the path he was strolling prior to the World Cup.
Another game in a packed schedule
As is often the case in these situations, and even more so given the frantic nature of the 2022/23 schedule, a replay is extremely unwelcome.
Liverpool already have a fixture that needs to be rearranged against tonight’s opponents, ironically on what possibly would’ve been the date of the replay, and should we progress against Real Madrid we face a real headache when it comes to squeezing the league game in between now and May.
Liverpool were afforded the luxury of a 12-day gap between league fixtures, and the full-strength version ought to have put Wolves to bed.
It is a problem completely of their own making.