|Johnson o.g. 11|
|Suarez 38||Fletcher 49|
This was a lucky win today which at no point looked comfortable. Simply not good enough.
The team line up was not to everyone's liking. I can understand leaving Steven Gerrard on the bench as his rehabilitation continues but it seemed harsh not to include Craig Bellamy given his outstanding midweek contribution.
A stuttering start from the Reds allowed Wolves to settle into the game, something which should never be afforded to the away side at Anfield. This was thanks for the most part to our woefully inept midfield failing to dominate. There seemed to be no lessons learned from the Spurs game as our boys meandered around the pitch with no real urgency. Inexplicably, Wolves threatened from a couple of set pieces in the first 5 minutes before we eventually yawned and stretched our way into the game.
We took the lead in the 11th minute in truly poxy circumstances although maybe we were due some luck given the decisions against us in recent weeks. Stewart Downing set up Charlie Adam and his wayward looking shot was deflected in off the head of Roger Johnson. The argumentative Wolves captain also claimed to have been fouled by Andy Carroll in the build-up to the goal, with replays showing he may have had a case.
Scoring an early goal at home to one of the weaker sides in the Premier League would normally settle us down and even open the floodgates on a good day. However there's a distinct lack of conviction in our play at the moment and once again today we failed to take the upper hand.
The next half an hour saw both sides exchange half-chances with the Carroll and Suarez linking up well on occasion. Without dominating possession or creating anything clear-cut we never really looked like adding a second goal, but then one came out of nowhere.
Wolves were guilty employing a high line all afternoon and some fine vision from Jose Enrique saw us take advantage. He chipped a simple ball over the top which Luis Suarez latched on to with only the keeper to beat. Rather than take the shot on first time, he dillied and dallied somewhat before eventually firing past Wayne Hennessy on his near post. It goes down as a good goal I suppose but a half-decent goalkeeper would have comfortably saved it.
Suarez then had another decent opportunity, firing wide after good work from Stewart Downing but the first half finished with the stats showing Wolves had 52% possession. This should never happen at home to someone like Wolves but with a midfield as lacklustre as ours, it's always a possibility.
The second half began with an almost inevitable goal from the away side. Substitute Steven Fletcher fired home completely unmarked from 8 yards after Hunt crossed from the right. It was only fair for a Wolves side that never deserved to be two goals down on the balance of play.
Queue some huffing and puffing from the Reds. Andy Carroll hit the post from a Stewart Downing cross, and then the winger himself failed to finish in a one-on-one with the keeper. Wolves replied with Chrstophe Berra going close as the game descended into an unsightly scrap.
Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard were introduced late on in a game where we ended up hanging on for the victory. I've mentioned our profligacy in front of goal in previous match reports this season and this will surely come back to haunt us sooner or later. However it's our inept foursome in midfield that's more of a worry.
Once again Jordan Henderson offered absolutely nothing on the right side of midfield today. I don't want to be too hard on the lad because I know he will go on to be a fine central midfielder. He's been asked to a play in a position that is clearly foreign to him and Kenny must acknowledge and rectify this. It's simply not working for him out there and while Dirk Kuyt is no flying Dutchman he's obviously the best option in that position.
Today as per usual, Stewart Downing was Mr Anonymous. He flitted in and out of the game, occasionally offering a threat down the left but never really convincing. He seems to be one of those players that will do ok when we're playing well, but will never instigate or take things upon himself. I'd like to see him demand the ball far more often and take some responsibility.
The major concern at present is the midfield pair of Charlie Adam and Lucas. Zero mobility and dynamism and surprisingly, given Adam captained his previous club, zero responsibility. Allow me to trot out some embarrassing statistics from today's encounter. Wolves attempted more passes (450 to 425) and had a higher overall success rate (74% to 70%). Now here's the really embarrassing bit. That bastion of midfield dominance, Jamie O'Hara, attempted more passes (83) than Lucas (36) and Adam (40) combined. I felt a little bit of sick in the back of my throat as I checked and double-checked those figures.
It's clear to me that the root of our problem lies in the centre of the park and as yet we don't know where Steven Gerrard will fit in to all this. The partnership of Lucas and Adam does not offer anything close to what is required to challenge for a top four finish but given the regularity of Kenny's team sheet this season, I don't see him changing it. With a trip to Moyesie's Dogs of War next week action must be taken now.
Subs: Kuyt for Henderson (71), Gerrard for Suarez (81)
Unused Subs: Doni, Flanagan, Coates, Spearing, Bellamy