Match Review: Fulham 1-3 Liverpool

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  • Fans at Elephant & Castle, waiting for the LFC v Fulham match

Match Review: Fulham 1-3 Liverpool

Thank goodness, we breathed easier this weekend.

No early goal conceded, no need to turn around a deficit, and no last-gasp scoring to secure the points, things went more or less according to the intended script during this tricky Sunday trip to Craven Cottage.

That will do a whole world of good for the confidence of the entire Liverpool camp. Players, managers, staff, and supporters alike.

The team delivered a professional performance in terms of controlling much of the game and finishing when it mattered against a decent Fulham side.

The Merseysiders’ games over the past few weeks are a strange study in contrast. The Reds recently created plenty of chances (20+ per game) but could not win because of a lack of clinical finishing.

This Sunday, it was “only” 14 attempts and 7 shots on target. Ironically, those were enough to comfortably clinch all three points.

Perhaps a few eyebrows were raised at the sight of the Liverpool bench which was filled with the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones, Darwin Nunez and even a certain Mo Salah; quality players who by themselves, make up a terrific team.

But on the back of countless recent injuries, this has now become a question of shrewd squad management and everyone will be called upon to play a part in this crucial home stretch of the league.

Making his full comeback from injury was Trent Alexander-Arnold who started his first Premier League game since Burnley in February.

You could easily notice the Scouser in our Team was now on the pitch by the sight of long diagonal balls flying across.

Trent redux

During the reverse fixture back in December, he opened the scoring with a sumptuous free kick at the Anfield Road end. He repeated the feat on Sunday with another peach of a set piece.

His curler on the 32nd minute from some 25 yards out glided into the top corner, well beyond the reach of Fulham keeper Bernd Leno. Unstoppable by any keeper for that matter.

Confidence was pretty high in the Liverpool camp at that point. Chances created so far were from the away side who exerted much control of the proceedings with Cody Gakpo in particular relentlessly driving the charges down the left flank.

It was therefore against the run of play that Fulham managed to put a blot on our copybook during added time of the first half.

Sensing some hesitation among their opponents, the Cottagers successfully forced the issue when Liverpool tried to run down the clock to half time.

Amid the confusion of the Reds trying to clear the ball from their penalty box, Timothy Castagne blasted it past Alisson Becker and Wataru Endo to equalise just before the break.

Still, Liverpool were undeterred and went again during the second half which they practically dominated.

Key to such control was the intense pressing in midfield, especially by Wataru Endo who was back to his own self during that second half after having been somewhat off pace recently.

If you like long-range goals, Liverpool against Fulham now look like the encounter to watch. That thrilling 4-3 at Anfield back in December also saw all Reds goals scored by memorable strikes from distance.

After Trent, Ryan Gravenberch carried on the trend with a 19-yard rocket on the 53rd after being fed by Harvey Elliot who doggedly intercepted in midfield a Fulham attempt to clear the ball.

An emphatic first premier league goal in Liverpool colours for the Dutch, created by ex-Cottager Elliot who unsurprisingly received a lot of stick from the home supporters during this match.

Putting it to bed

From that point, it became a question of taking the game beyond Fulham’s reach to avoid a nasty repeat of what happened at the other end of the East Lancs Road recently.

In particular, Gakpo was determined to make it happen; he also played a big part in Liverpool’s intense pressing in midfield.

His incessant efforts paid off on the 72nd when he ran the ball from the halfway line despite an attempted block by Tosin, before feeding Diogo Jota who in typical fashion, slotted it low past Leno.

Ironically, the Portuguese was immediately sub’ed off after scoring his 100th goal in English football, probably with the upcoming Everton game on Wednesday in mind.

It is with a renewed spring in their step that the Reds will approach this week's derby, which is the complete opposite of the jaded look our players took to  Crystal Palace last Sunday.

Some then said that the wheels had come off the Reds machine. A bit premature, wasn’t it? Guess what… we are still up there in the table with the same number of points as Arsenal, 1 more than Man City who admittedly have one game in hand.

Win the Merseyside derby and it will be 4 points ahead of Pep Guardiola’s team who will surely feel quite some pressure by the time they next play.

As for Liverpool, it has been a different week from the previous one despite a win at Atalanta and the bonus of a clean sheet were regrettably not enough to overturn the damage of one week before.

And now back to winning ways in the Premier League against a Fulham side which after all, gave Liverpool a run for their money during the reverse fixture back in December.

A week of rehabilitation we are tempted to say.

Mike Chung.