In a game where both teams decided they would pretty much go without a midfield, Liverpool shook off what looked to be an all too familiar first half -- decent chances and possession, a missed penalty call, no goals -- and then torched their opponent's overexuberance in the second half. It came out to be a an easy victory over the second 45, something we haven't experienced in far too long. We're not used to seeing Liverpool be ruthless and efficient, but dear lord is it welcome.
It was always going to be something less than a vintage performance. The exertions of the past week saw to that, and it was just a matter of could Liverpool find enough to get a result and move on. They did, and that's something they haven't done in....well, the memory fails me.
-I don't think there's a sport where confidence matters more than football. You can just seen when a player is fighting it and hiding, and when he's feeling it and willing to be counted. So it looks with Andy Carroll. While it won't go in the overly dominating, example setting performance for a striker, it is far better than we have seen from the #9 and hopefully is a first step. His contribution on Saturday, his play then clearly sparked something in him. He was lively, battling, and frankly Wolves didn't have much of an answer. Whoever the color guy was, his name escapes me (memory down two now) said that Carroll was doing what he does -- which granted isn't all we'd like but he wasn't getting the response from his teammates. There were a lot of knock downs and headers that were put where they should be. Maybe his teammates were just in shock that they were and didn't react properly in time. But his goal was very well taken, and from there you could see the belief oozing from him. There was one turn at the halfway line later, that sadly led to a blasted shot well wide, but it was something he wouldn't have tried even a week ago.
Now Liverpool have a question. Kuyt appears to be back on form, and Bellamy has pretty much become indispensable. Luis Suarez's banishment to the hinterlands is over, how do they all fit? It is unlikely that they would ever field a straight up 4-2-4. Do they try Suarez and Carroll together again? The 4-3-3 with a front line of Suarez-Carroll-Bellamy that's really only been trotted out, and quickly discarded, at Fulham? Do they put Carroll back on the bench and erode the confidence that took far too long to find?
I don't have any of those answers.
-After going down one, Wolves were just far too desperate, which made picking them off that much easier. While they are in real trouble and going behind probably engineers panic at the thought of more points escaping their grasp and causing them to fall into the Championship, it was only a one goal lead and didn't require the crying of "Havoc!" and sending everyone forward. That said, Liverpool's counter attacking was superb at times.
-A perfect Charlie Adam game. Some blissful passes, and some Python-esque tackling and marking.
-When Jay Spearing calmed down in the second half, or maybe just realized his main job was to cover for Adam, he had a pretty strong match.
-So much for Jose Enrique's dip in form, no?
-Mick McCarthy may want to get familiar with Monster.com. Is that what unemployed people still use?
And with that, Liverpool vault up to 5th, depending on what Arsenal and Newcastle do tomorrow. No matter those results, thanks to a Chelsea stubbing of their toe at Swansea, Liverpool are only four points out of fourth with both the Russian play thing and the Gunners still to come to Anfield. Despite their best efforts, Liverpool are very much still in the chase for fourth, though with a nasty looking run of matches to come.