Fulham 1 – 3 Liverpool – The Postmortem 

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Dissecting Liverpool’s Crucial Victory Against Fulham

This was a game that had the entire Liverpool fanbase very nervous before kick-off, after a strange and uncharacteristic couple of weeks. Recent results in the FA Cup, Europa League, and Premier League, were all rather disastrous leading into this weekend trip to Craven Cottage, therefore, to come away with all three points and a very controlled performance will play very well into what comes next.

Below is how the team lined up, with match details following.

The Starting Eleven

Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander Arnold, Jarell Quansah, Virgil van Dijk (c), Andy Robertson, Harvey Elliott, Wataru Endō, Ryan Gravenberch, Luis Díaz, Diogo Jota, Cody Gakpo

Subs

Darwin Núñez – Diogo Jota (74 mins), Mohamed Salah – Luis Díaz (74 mins), Alexis Mac Allister – Ryan Gravenberch (74 mins), Joe Gomez – Trent Alexander Arnold (80 mins), Dominik Szoboszlai – Cody Gakpo (86 mins)

Goals

Fulham 0 – 1 Liverpool – Trent Alexander Arnold – 32 mins

Fulham 1 – 1 Liverpool – Timothy Castagne 45+2 mins

Fulham 1 – 2 Liverpool – Ryan Gravenberch (Harvey Elliott) 53 mins

Fulham 1 – 3 Liverpool – Diogo Jota (Cody Gakpo) 72 mins

Important Match Stats

Possession – Fulham 39% – 61% Liverpool

Total Shots – Fulham 12 – 15 Liverpool

Crosses – Fulham 17 – 17 Liverpool

Corner Kicks – Fulham 1 – 4 Liverpool

Goalkeeper Saves – Fulham 4 – 4 Liverpool

The First Half

The opening period of this game was a measured and impressive display by the illustrious visitors, who had clearly been warned by their German manager to keep the opening stages tight. With territorial control being asserted very early, it was very much another case of the reds attempting to break down a stubborn deep block, without offering up too many opportunities to be countered.

Photo: IMAGO

The starting lineup was an eye brow raiser, however, when considering the busy week ahead, it was clearly an indication of what was needed rather than that which was desired. The balance of the team looked immediately correct, with a Japanese bruiser offering a shield, whilst his more front footed midfield partners advanced up the west London field. Trent Alexander Arnold was the creative hub who was keen to orchestrate the tempo of Liverpool’s numerous attacks, whereas the front line looked effective if unspectacular.

Chances were created for the likes of Luis and Diogo, though it would not be until midway through the half that a pair of free kicks would allow the deadlock to be broken. Harvey Elliott had a horrible first attempt hit the wall, before the vice-captain took it upon himself to launch a 25-yard strike into the top corner.

The pre game dreams of a home-grown hero prevailing, had become reality and finally the reds were ahead in a domestic league game. Unfortunately, the final few minutes of the half were the attacking bright spot for the hosts, who were able to score on a helpless Alisson Becker. A low driven shot was nestled into the bottom corner, after some poor defensive work failed to clear the second ball.

The half ended with the score level at 1-1 and the result very much still in the balance.

The Second Half

On resumption of the second half, no changes were made and the good work and overall domination of the away side was continued after the break. With more gusto and confidence about the likes of Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota, penetration and opportunities arose with more intent and aggression. Mundane football had been replaced by a want for more decisive action and suddenly, the Merseyside giants looked dangerous again.

The reds second goal was a wondrous strike from an attacking midfielder that has largely underwhelmed in his first season at Anfield. Ryan Gravenberch latched onto an assisted pass by Harvey Elliott, before firing an unstoppable blast into the top corner, one which may have outdone the sole Liverpool goal in the first half.

Photo: IMAGO

From this point onwards, complete domination of the encounter was attained and eventually Diogo Jota ended the game as a winnable contest. Cody Gakpo deserved a goal involvement and his assist for his Portuguese teammate allowed the most venomous man on the park to take the score to an unassailable 1-3.

With substitutions introduced and renewed competition in the ranks, suddenly the hope which was lost in the last fortnight was finally restored. Vibrancy and passion seemed to seep into the playing squad as well as the coaching group, with the hopes of a Premier League assault continuing to build until the final whistle and confirmation of three points.

Final Thoughts

This was a game that needed a good response and three points, which was secured with aplomb.

This week is perhaps the most critical in the Anfield tenure of Jürgen Klopp, with trips to Everton and West Ham to come in the next six days. This season is not over and today proved that there is still fight in this wounded red animal yet.

Everton next, with a short trip across the park to Goodison.

Steven Smith

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