Wolves vs Liverpool: Mohamed Salah goal makes him leading Premier League scorer as Wolves lack cutting edge

Wolves 0-2 Liverpool: Goals from Salah and Virgil Van Dijk mean that Jurgen Klopp's side will be top on Christmas day

Jack Watson
Friday 21 December 2018 22:54
Liverpool FC: A look back at 2018

Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the Premier League over Manchester City to four points by beating Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 at Molineux.

Mohamed Salah scored his 11th of the season and Virgil van Dijk scored his first league goal in Liverpool colours after the break to seal the three points.

It was not a vintage performance from Jurgen Klopp’s side, but in a busy Christmas period, it was good enough to seal an important win that piles the pressure on Pep Guardiola’s men on Saturday.

Here’s five things we learned from Molineux

Liverpool make Christmas number one

Klopp and his players now have the relaxing job of kicking back and beginning the Premier League weekend with their task already done. Liverpool were not at their best but Salah’s goal takes the Reds four points clear at the top of the table.

Given City have made incredibly light work of Crystal Palace at the Etihad over the years, it is unlikely that Pep Guardiola’s side are going to drop any points as they address the four-point gap.

The win also means that Liverpool will spend Christmas day at the summit of the league and well-placed to enter 2019 as league leaders ahead of playing City three days into the new year.

Mohamed Salah becomes league’s top scorer

Salah’s 18th-minute goal to give Liverpool the lead in the first-half moves him above his league rivals as the division’s top-scorer.

Three goals in eight games to start to the season had him ranking lower in the individual league than he would have wanted, although that is a compliment to the Egyptian’s ability given that early form is deemed sub-par.

His 32 league goals last campaign was to finish two goals ahead of Harry Kane and claim the golden boot in his inaugural Premier League season.

Mohamed Salah became the Premier League leading scorer

Wolves punished for failing to make chances count

At 0-0 you sense that Wolves were creating enough chances to take the lead. Even at 1-0 down there was still enough enthusiasm to surge forward and try to play on the front foot.

Adama Traore was unable to profit from sloppy defending with a series of wide shots and Romain Saiss also went close, but there was always a clinical edge lacking from their play.

This was in contrast to Liverpool, who scored with arguably only their significant chance of the match when Salah showed a ruthless edge to convert Fabinho’s low cross.

Wolves, to their credit, never eased their relentless pressure on Liverpool when they were in possession, but there were very few difficult saves that Allison was forced to make.

Liverpool show strength in depth

Whether Liverpool win silverware under Klopp or not remains to be seen, however, as well as restoring hope at Anfield, the German has seen a complete shift in the quality of their squad depth.

Three years ago Klopp’s bench shortly after taking the job looked like this: Ryan Fulton, Kolo Toure, Connor Randall, Joe Allen, Jordon Ibe, Divock Origi and Christian Benteke.

On Friday night, this is what he was working with: Mignolet, Clyne, Wijnaldum, Sturridge, Lallana, Shaqiri, Origi.

Naby Keita’s 57th-minute injury could have been a serious problem for the side, losing a player that cost over £50m will always be seen as a bad thing, but Adam Lallana came on and barely deterred the quality of the side. The strength in depth will certainly serve them well over the bust Christmas period and could give them an edge over their league rivals.

Liverpool have impressive strength in depth

The Traore conundrum

During the start of the season when Nuno Espirito Santo named an unchanged team for the first nine matches of the season, and by setting a Premier League record in the process, Helder Costa was the preferred forward over Traore.

The Spaniard’s fearsome pace made him the ideal player to bring on late in the game to stretch sides and turn things around as an impact player, however, he has since worked his way into the starting XI.

Although the number of chances he squandered and the ease at which Liverpool were able to deal with him could prompt the manager to consider starting with Costa or Ivan Cavaleiro.

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