After the midweek debacle which saw Wolves walk away with their first victory over the reds in 27 years, Liverpool came back from a goal down to secure 3 essential points in stoppage time.
Many fans were left scratching their heads at the midweek team selection but today was greeted with much more relief, and the performance matched it.
Gerrard, who was allegedly tired after his exploits against Wolves, was left on the bench. Konchesky, seemingly, was correctly left on the coach.
Rodriguez returned to the team in left wing, Meireles started in his proper position in central midfield, and Kuyt was returned to the right wing. Fabio Aurelio came in at left back, and Kyrgiakos made way for Daniel Agger.
No question that Liverpool started nervously but the game was far more end to end. With Rodriguez and Aurelio down the left wing, the reds looked to have far more width, and Aurelio’s clever runs made a mockery of the previous incumbent of that position.
The first half was relatively even, both sides creating some fine chances, Rodriguez’ header the pick of the bunch for the reds – it sadly hit the crossbar.
Meireles picked up an early injury and Gerrard was sent on in his place in only the 21st minute.
But it was Bolton who drew first blood, a sign that their current excellent league position is no fluke. Such are the injury problems at Bolton, that only 4 out of 7 substitutes were named by Owen Coyle’s side.
It was Kevin Davies who struck just before half time. As expected the goal came from a cross, Kevin Davies rising above Skrtel and Johnson – once again making a mockery of Liverpool’s new combined mix of man-marking and zonal marking.
Liverpool went off to some boos around Anfield.
The second half, kicking towards a lively Kop, the reds looked a different side from the weak-willed men of midweek. Torres in particular looked a different player to the one who has laboured through the season.
A Gerrard flick found the Spaniard who fired in to the net to equalise.
The reds continued to hammer down the Bolton door, Aurelio, Rodriguez and a deep lying Torres working on the left, with Johnson, Kuyt and Ngog chasing hard down the right. This was much more like how Liverpool should have approached the majority of Hodgson’s previous 29 games in charge.
But Bolton were still getting chances of their own on the counter attack, Klasnic could and should have done better from a defensive mix up.
In the 92nd minute the reds sealed a vital victory. Gerrard’s cross at the back post found Rodriguez and a Bolton defender who helped the ball goalwards, Joe Cole getting the final, albeit unnecessary touch. Replays suggested Cole was offside, but the refereeing team awarded the goal on the basis the ball came off a Bolton defender and Liverpool get their 25th point of the season at the half way stage.
Some festive cheer at last for Liverpool fans, the performance in general arguably deserved the victory. Liverpool travel to Blackburn and Man Utd (FA Cup) in a tough week ahead.
For tonight at least Liverpool fans can relax somewhat, rumours from inside Anfield suggest that Hodgson may still not be able to sleep quite so comfortably.