Captain Jordan Henderson grabbed a goal and an assist as Liverpool earned a hard-fought 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday to move 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League again.
The skipper headed his side in front after eight minutes and teed up Roberto Firmino for a thrilling late winner after Raul Jimenez had earlier equalised for the hosts.
Here are five talking points from an enthralling match at Molineux...
A captain's performance
Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves provided a particularly tough test for the Reds on a wintry night in the Midlands and it was Henderson who ensured he and his colleagues passed it.
It was the No.14 who spotted a potential area to exploit from Liverpool's first corner of the game - and then attacked that spot to head home the opening goal from the second one.
When the Reds were pegged back by Wolves' 51st-minute leveller, Henderson was at the forefront of cajoling his side to recovery and then, ultimately, victory.
With Wolves occupied by Mohamed Salah on the edge of the area, the ball came out to the captain, who calmly weighted a perfect pass through the chaos for Firmino to score an 84th-minute winner.
And, defensively, he led the team with nine possession regains and 100 per cent aerial duels won.
King of the assists
Another game, another assist from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Against Manchester United on Sunday it was his corner that Virgil van Dijk headed in for the breakthrough; against Wolves it was a similar delivery for Henderson to convert.
The right-back has assisted 22 Premier League goals since the start of last season - five more than any other player - with a league-high 10 of those coming from set-pieces.
Liverpool have netted eight league goals from corners this season - the joint-most with Arsenal - and can certainly add set-pieces to their attacking armoury, with Alexander-Arnold's dead-ball ability a key factor.
The 2-1 win at Molineux means the Reds are now unbeaten in their last 40 Premier League games and are tied with Chelsea for the third-best run in English top-flight history.
Only Arsenal (49) and Nottingham Forest (42) have ever gone on a longer such streak.
40 - Liverpool are only the fifth team in English Football League history to remain unbeaten in 40+ consecutive mat… https://t.co/Glfgc0S1AM— OptaJoe (OptaJoe) 23rd Jan 21:56
Liverpool's last loss in the league came against Manchester City at the Etihad in January last year - when the Reds went down 2-1 in their only defeat of the campaign.
Sadio sour note
Jürgen Klopp named an unchanged side for the third Premier League game on the bounce but the Reds were forced to make a change on 32 minutes when Sadio Mane was unable to continue.
The Senegalese forward, who has scored 15 goals in 31 appearances this season, took to the Molineux turf but was then able to stand up and walk off unaided.
The manager delivered an update post-match, reporting that Mane 'felt something' in his hamstring but Liverpool would have to wait on scan results to discover the full extent of the injury.
Minamino makes league debut
With Mane heading down the tunnel, January signing Takumi Minamino came off the bench to make his Premier League debut and his very first touch was to flick the ball over the head of an onrushing opponent.
From a pass fired out to him at pace by the Reds defence, the Japan international took a touch over Matt Doherty at his back, spun and carried the ball forward.
He enjoyed 40 more touches during his 57 minutes on the pitch, linking up most with his skipper, Henderson (10).
Deployed in a central position in the FA Cup victory over Everton earlier this month, he operated mainly on the right-hand side at Molineux.
The forward was often used on the left at Salzburg this season, before his move to Anfield, and Minamino's versatility across the attacking positions gives Klopp more options to ponder during the season's run-in.
Andy Robertson has highlighted the stunning form of Jordan Henderson and believes the captain has been 'driving' Liverpool forward this season.
Henderson once again impressed with a Man of the Match performance in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The midfielder opened the scoring at Molineux early in the first half before delivering the assist for Roberto Firmino's 84th-minute winner.
“Hendo, for me, this season has been different class,” Robertson told Liverpoolfc.com following the win. “He’s been one of, if not our best player this season.
“Sometimes over the years Hendo’s not got the credit that he deserves. But when you play with him, you train with him and see the way he acts off the field, it’s an absolute pleasure [for him] to be my captain and everyone’s captain.
“For us, he’s now getting the credit that he deserves and that’s what it’s all about for us because he’s getting the recognition that his performances deserve.
“And today just epitomises Jordan Henderson – the way he went about his business, the way he scored the goal and his assist.
“His all-round play the past couple of months has been second to none and he’s really driving us forward to the position we are in now.”
Henderson is leading a Liverpool side that sits 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League, while also possessing a game in hand on second-place Manchester City.
And Jürgen Klopp's trophy-hungry squad are leaving it all out on the pitch in fixture after fixture in order to deliver more silverware to Anfield this term.
"We are a team that don’t find excuses, we are a team that gets on with it," Robertson stressed.
"Are there some games you go in tired? Are there some games you go in with an injury when you are playing with pain? Of course there are. But like I’ve said, we are going for something that’s never been done before.
"We are playing for a club that is a fantastic club to play for. The fans are really enjoying it, we are all enjoying it, so why wouldn’t we put ourselves out there?
"Pain barrier or tiredness, it’s just about breaking through the barriers and it’s about just giving your all for the badge and for your teammates in there – and that’s what all of us are doing just now.
"Then we rest and maybe hobble about for a couple of days and then we go again. It’s a fantastic group of boys in there, an honest group who work so hard for each other and that’s why we are getting the results just now."
Jürgen Klopp will preview Liverpool's FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury Town at a 1.30pm GMT press conference today.
The Reds face the League One side in the fourth round on Sunday evening.
Ahead of the game, Klopp will speak to the media at Melwood – and you can see everything he has to say via our live YouTube stream.
Simply return to this page shortly before the start time to tune in.
Roberto Firmino secured a 2-1 victory for Liverpool at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday – watch his winning goal in our free video.
After Raul Jimenez had levelled proceedings at Molineux in the early stages of the second half, Firmino decided the encounter with a clinical left-footed finish in the 84th minute.
You can relive the moment in the video above.
To watch, simply register for free if you have not already done so.
Filter© Copyright 2020 Liverpool FC . All rights reserved
Liverpool came through an incredibly difficult test at Molineux to record yet another win, 2-1 this time over Wolves in the Premier League.
Premier League, Molineux
January 23, 2020
Goals: Jimenez 50′; Henderson 8′, Firmino 84′From all-action to all-rounder
Box-to-box, holding mid, goalscorer extraordinaire. Possibly not extraordinaire, not with two for the season, but it was a very timely intervention from the skipper to pop up with a header (or a shoulder) and get the Reds on the front foot.
Of course, Henderson’s not really in the team to be on the end of moves, he’s there to disrupt them from the other team – and once again he was exceptional in this regard.
Henderson continually picked up the loose pieces, won challenges, directed his team-mates off the ball and ensured there was cover all over the park.
Henderson’s form and confidence is sky high and the captain is leading us to glory once again.Containing Adama
One of the most relentless and difficult opponents to face this season for any Premier League defence, Adama Traore provided an exhibition in how to be the focal point of a team’s attack and be non-stop and direct without diverting away from the skill-set he has in the slightest.
Traore was awarded Man of the Match by UK TV, but in truth this felt more down to the number of times he was the outlet and in possession, rather than because he was magical and hugely productive all game long.
Most of the time, while Liverpool struggled to contain the former Barcelona man, they did do well with his deliveries, with the centre-backs clearing the majority of his 10 crosses.
Van Dijk cut out his clips and cut-backs on at least six occasions—three with his head, three with his feet—while Gomez also got on the end of a couple to clear the lines.
Andy Robertson had a bit of a torrid night due to Traore always getting the ball, and perhaps he was tired when he cost the Reds a goal: poor position to start with, poor decision to step forward and tackle and certainly a poor execution of that challenge, which left the Reds totally open and skewed on the cover.
That meant Traore’s assist, but thereafter his impact was once more minimal until the very last moment of the game, when Wolves skied their big chance for 2-2.Minamino’s Premier League debut
One beautiful early flick over a defender’s head showed his awareness and technique, but he came on at a time when the Reds were largely concerned with controlling the game and getting to the break.
After the restart it was quickly apparent that he and Oxlade-Chamberlain had switched sides, perhaps with the intent of replicating the pace down that left flank which Sadio Mane usually provides, but with the Reds in more of a 4-4-2 shape off the ball.
A difficult start to the second half saw a lot of running and not much else for the Japanese attacker, but one snap-shot forced Rui Patricio into a save on the hour mark.
One mitigating factor must be noted though: Other than perhaps playing Man City, it could hardly have been a more tricky introduction for the new No. 18—a Merseyside derby alongside plenty of youngsters, and the toughest test the Reds have faced in a long time.Biggest test of 2020
Little doubt in the minds of players and fans, that this fixture was the most difficult one that Liverpool have had to get through in ages, perhaps since Man City came to Anfield.
Adama Traore was a big part of it, but not the only part; set-piece delivery was good, the wing-backs pushed on constantly and the runners from deep—Neto, Doherty, later Jota—often caused problems on the second balls after crosses.
The Reds didn’t enjoy possession and territorial dominance the way they usually do and weren’t able to constantly counter-attack, especially after losing Mane’s pace.
But, even so, this incredible team once more found a way to win.
Bobby Firmino’s clever footwork and 10th away goal of the season lands a massive three points, and inflicted what must be a hugely demoralising and deflating blow to other clubs who were hoping for a few dropped points.Cup and game in hand
Sixteen points clear again, count them. 22 wins from 23 games. Count them, too.
It’ll be a hectic time again now for the Reds, but only for a few short weeks until the winter break, so keeping the relentless form going is critical.
Hopefully, too, another warm body or two might boost Jurgen Klopp‘s options; James Milner and Naby Keita should be reasonably close to returns, while Xherdan Shaqiri will presumably be called upon at some point, too.
The biggest hope of all will be that Mane’s injury is not too serious, and these next couple of matches, at least, are ones the Reds should be able to come through without him in any case.
Another test down and the Reds keep marching on.
Liverpool could lose six of their remaining 15 games and still win the title… the suggestion, Klopp said post-match makes him “feel sick.” They won’t lose six and they might not lose any…
Jurgen Klopp acknowledged Liverpool had come through a very difficult challenge away to Wolves, but stressed the hard work was far from over.
The Reds were made to work hard, suffer under pressure and have to find another late winner to see off Wolves 2-1 in the end in the Premier League on Thursday.
The boss was full of praise in his post-match press conference for his team for dealing with the somewhat unique challenge that Wolves present, with a 3-4-3 set-up led by the speed demon outlet of Adama Traore.
“We knew beforehand it would be a really, really tough game,” Klopp told journalists.
“Wolves are so different to everything else you face this year. The way Nuno sets it up is really good.”
Even with the late win it wasn’t a night without drawbacks; one of the big questions at full-time was on the injury sustained by Sadio Mane.
The Reds’ No. 10 went off midway through the first half and Klopp doesn’t expect he’ll feature much across the next few games, suggesting it may be a hamstring strain.
“Don’t know exactly. It’s probably a muscle; he felt something, a hamstring. We have to wait. We will see.”
Klopp further praised the “worldie” strike from Firmino which won the game and stressed the importance of being ready for the upcoming games.
Rotations can be expected for the weekend cup game, which may give a chance for one or two who were on the bench tonight—including Premier League debutant Takumi Minamino, who Klopp felt did “exceptionally well” in difficult circumstances.
Roberto Firmino’s late strike moved the champions-elect 16 points clear at the top after a 2-1 win at Wolves.
It came after Alisson ensured they extended their unbeaten league run to 40 games with vital saves from Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez.
Jimenez had earlier hauled Wolves level in the second half after Jordan Henderson’s opener.
Liverpool are closing in on a first title in 30 years but Klopp insisted he is not fixated on their position.
Klopp said: “I don’t think about it, I had to ask about exactly the amount of points, that’s the truth, I really forgot in the week.
“That’s three games in seven days which is a lot. We lost Sadio Mane and that’s the pressure I think about. All the rest is no pressure.
“We said it before it would be a really tough game, Wolves are doing so unbelievably well, they are so different to everything else you face.”
“They scored a super goal and had a big chance from Ali saves,” Klopp added.
“We scored our wonderful goal after a set-piece but not a second or third means everything is open and then it gets intense.
“We had chances, Mo and Bobby in front of the goalkeeper and then a worldie from Bobby, it was a super goal.
“This ball can go wide and we know the sound of that. That we have different options to score gives us the opportunity to stay in the game.”
Liverpool must wait to discover the extent of the injury sustained by Sadio Mane during Thursday’s 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Reds’ No.10 was forced off in the first half at Molineux due to a hamstring issue, Jürgen Klopp confirmed post-match.
The boss said: "We don’t know exactly [what the injury is], it’s the muscle. He felt something in the hamstring. We don’t know yet, obviously, we have to wait. We will see."