Given that the Merseyside derby is up next, followed by the visit of Manchester United, Liverpool needed to break their recent habit of failing to win in September and did so, although not in quite the fluent manner preferred.
Wolves, who had been badly exposed by Queens Park Rangers a week earlier, were still rocky under pressure and could not really complain much about being two behind inside 38 minutes, particularly after Luis Suarez had turned his marker one way and then the other before thrashing home the second. The goals rewarded Liverpool's rangy, vibrant attacking forays, which were easily the best aspect of their performance. But Mick McCarthy's side would not lie down, deciding instead to meet attack with attack and a goal early in the second half ensured that Kenny Dalglish's side, while not in danger of succumbing to a third consecutive Premier League defeat, were never certain of victory until the last whistle.
"Wolves put us under pressure," Dalglish said. "I don't think Mick was too happy after the QPR game but that was a total contrast and they deserve credit for the way they went about it today.
"But I think we deserved to win. We had a bit of luck with the opening goal but we have not had a lot of luck recently so I think we deserved some. With a bit more in the second half, when we hit the bar and their keeper made an unbelievable save, we could have had more goals."
While Suarez was the outstanding player, Dalglish pronounced himself "delighted" with Andy Carroll, whom he restored to the front line despite the claims advanced by Craig Bellamy in the Carling Cup win at Brighton in midweek. "It's funny how Andy has a decent game and I don't get a single question about him," Dalglish said, adding a postscript to Friday's pre-game press conference, when attempts to discuss the effectiveness of his £35 million buy from Newcastle United brought a tetchy response. "Apart from not scoring a goal I thought everything about him today was good."
Shame, then, that the last impression left by Carroll was somewhat comical, as he failed to manage a shot in three or four attempts to set one up after Steven Gerrard, adding another 10 minute of game time to his recuperation, had picked him out unmarked.
Earlier, Carroll had hit the bar with a header from a Stewart Downing cross, although his height was never used as a particular weapon by Liverpool. Most of the time they were dangerous enough with the ball on the ground.
The first goal came when Charlie Adam took advantage of a generous invitation to shoot after 11 minutes. Roger Johnson, trying to get to his feet after a challenge from Carroll, tried to block the shot with his head yet succeeded only in deflecting past his goalkeeper, who may well have had it covered anyway, had it not been going wide.
Carroll, who might have scored soon afterwards when Wayne Hennessey smothered his header on the line, linked well enough with Suarez to encourage Dalglish to persevere with their partnership.
The second goal, though, came not from Carroll's pass but from a precise through-ball by Jose Enrique. Timing his run to foil Wolves' attempt to catch him offside, Suarez bolted away. Christophe Berra gave chase but, after shaping to pass square, Suarez wrong-footed him by moving the ball back to his left foot and found a gap between Hennessey and his near post.
Boldly, McCarthy switched from one striker to two for the second half and Steven Fletcher, the substitute, found the target within minutes, capitalising on some slack Liverpool defending.
After that, Wolves played a full part in an end-to-end game but the chances came largely at their end, Hennessey blocking at point-blank range from Suarez and brilliantly tipping a Downing shot wide. Dalglish's verdict, on that basis, was correct.
Liverpool (4-4-1-1): Reina; Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique; Henderson (Kuyt, 71), Lucas, Adam, Downing; Suarez (Gerrard, 81); Carroll.
Wolves (4-5-1): Hennessey; Stearman (Doherty, h-t), Johnson, Berra, Ward; Hunt (Guedioura, 81), Henry, Edwards (Fletcher, h-t), O'Hara, Jarvis; Doyle.
Referee Kevin Friend.
Man of the match Suarez (Liverpool).Reuse content