Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Wolves 1 Liverpool 3 in the Premier League at Molineux Stadium…


WENT away. Rode rollercoasters and battered waterslides.

Loved Aston Villa. Took casinos. Just took them. Loved Villa post. Came home. Starved. Starved. Ravenous.

The 12.30pm of my dreams. The manager can not like it, but I wanted to watch them. I wanted to love them always forever, near or far, closer together.

Then that. All the that. Let’s be clear – Pedro Neto is ace. And Wolves have players, proper footballers who love direct, strong running and Molineux is always always worthy of respect.

Liverpool are poor. Liverpool are dreadful. But – and this is critical – Liverpool aren’t hopeless. Hopeless is a pejorative, but last season it was also just a straightforward adjective. Liverpool were hopeless at Molineux and other gaffs last year.

Today we were never hopeless. Perhaps if Cunha scores after Neto’s excellent work we could have been. All the way through though, I believed the game would, to some degree, bend back to our will.

It’s hard for Jarell Quansah. He lacks a bit of pace on the turn but then so do Liverpool. It’s hard enough for Joel Matip too, although he should do better for the goal. It’s hard for Joe Gomez because for 45 minutes he is playing against the best player on the pitch.

And he isn’t the best player on the pitch. The man he is filling in for was against Villa and is missed – Trent Alexander-Arnold links all of Liverpool’s phases, but for 45 Liverpool are disjointed.

But not hopeless.

There are flashes. Diogo Jota has joy. Cody Gakpo gets a serviceable chance. Craig Dawson is a magnificent man, but he doesn’t want to have to turn around and turning around is in his future.

We get to half time. Thank the lord we get to half time, but I am not discouraged because we got there in one piece and the fightback begins.

Jürgen Klopp runs down the tunnel with intent. I love to see it. Every second counts. They have limited time at half time, and I imagine it like a pitstop in F1. Well drilled. Everything ready to go. The best possible turnaround time.

The change of shape works. Alexis Mac Allister is taken out and I am delighted where the final score ends up precisely for him keeping his slate clean.

Luis Diaz makes a difference, but Liverpool are just better organised. Dominik Szoboszlai and Curtis Jones grab the game by the scruff of the neck and it is now a Liverpool game.

Mo Salah is more involved; no longer isolated playing outside-to-in, instead playing inside-to-out. Suddenly he is Max Kilman’s problem, not Rayun Ait-Nouri’s and that changes everything.

Then two things happen. The first is Gakpo equalises and the second is Darwin Nunez. It’s strange – Gakpo gets his goal but Nunez verges on unplayable yet again. He is too much – he makes the adjective “handful” feel insufficient. He’s an armful, a truckful, he’s something that needs to be orbited.

And Mo Salah knows and loves it. He makes football easier for his teammates by virtue of the sheer presence. Near or far, closer together. The sheer thud of his beat, of his stomp. He’s a lead weight on a rubber sheet. He is a way home.

Jose Sa makes a mess of his kick and Wolves and Sa himself never recover. They haven’t been able to breathe for 15 and Liverpool break them. Andy Robertson runs in a straight line, Mo Salah is the best player in the world and then the Liverpool captain, who I would follow into the very jaws of hell, opens his body and slots the absolute sumptuous bastard.

He wheels away having stepped up like Souness, like Yeats, like Hansen, like Dalglish. Liverpool Football Club needed Andy Robertson and he needed that. Always, forever.

Christ this is a love song. The ball works its way to Nunez after Liverpool have drawn a desperate and exhausted Wolverhampton Wanderers on and he shrugs off the magnificent Dawson like he isn’t there, finds Salah and then there is Harvey Elliott with a bit of deserved luck – for him and for Liverpool.

Elliott runs to the Liverpool end, clearing obstacles like the winning horse in the National and there too suddenly is Curtis Jones and the whole enterprise is Scouser than the World In One City Awards I went to last night – which I felt was the Scousest thing I had ever known but that record lasted only 18 hours.

Because Liverpool. Because you win like this at grounds like that in circumstances like these and you hear the tick of the rollercoaster going up as it approaches its peak. You get punched in the face by the waterslide and you know that Jürgen Klopp made a gamble and you know that Liverpool just took the house and starved, starved, ravenous, sated.

Sated because the ride starts now, sated because everything bounces along, sated because it killed first half and then really killed second half and because near or far, closer together.

Sated because have you had the best night out of your life yet? Because, you know what, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones, Dominik Szoboszlai and Darwin Nunez think you haven’t and Mo Salah and Andy Robertson think they are right. Sated because I am hungry. Starved. Ravenous.

Our subs change this game like the correct tyres for a wet track. This Liverpool are not perfect yet – far from it – but they are learning all the time how to make marginal gains. And perfect is overrated.

The rollercoaster ticks upwards. The water flows downwards. The house always wins. But sometimes it doesn’t and when you can take the house, take it. Near and far and always everywhere and everything. That’s what I want.

The secret to quiet happiness is limiting your aspirations. Fuck quiet happiness. I want noisy joy unconfined with you. The 12.30pm of my dreams.

Five down. Five! We’re on this ride together. And there is no one I’d rather be on it with.

All my love. Couldn’t be happier to be back. Into these.

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