FULHAM 1 - LIVERPOOL
Liverpool: Salah 79’ (pen)
Fulham: Reid 25’
Today’s away game at Craven Cottage should ideally be an easy one for the Reds to bag. Great to see Alisson back as the #1 keeper, and Alexander Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench. One hopes that Ox can get some minutes in, preferably to offer workhorse Gini Wijnaldum some rest after the shifts he’s put in recently. Our favourite back-up Irish keeper Caoimhín Kelleher, who deputized wonderfully in Alisson’s absence, is on the bench as #2 today - so things aren’t looking great for Adrian I guess? Curtis Jones starts in midfield today with more points scored for Liverpool’s Academy. Let’s focus on that and try not to think about Diogo Jota who’s out for up to two months with a knock to his knee (sob). Up the Reds!
Fulham starts the game full of energy, throwing bodies forward. They have 2,000 fans in the stadium and seem determined to put up a fight. Alisson is forced to make a save as early as 3:46 from Ivan Cavaleiro, who follows that up with another chance at 13:42, which Alisson saves once again. Liverpool have registered barely a shot, let alone on target, and look sloppy, indecisive, and low on energy. Fabinho narrowly avoids a bizarre penalty call following VAR review for a sideways tackle, which wasn’t a clear and obvious error for sure. Even Possession God Gini seems unable to retain the ball. At 25:00 a corner kick to Fulham is mishandled by Liverpool’s defense, and Bobby Reid capitalizes with a powerful shot straight in to the corner of Alisson’s net - GOAL! Liverpool’s midfield and backline haven’t looked capable of absorbing Fulham’s pace and pressure. Salah has a chance at 43:00 but shoots it wide, while Robertson’s free-kick at 48:00 causes Firmino and Mane to tumble into each other, but no goal. On the whole, the home side have looked hungrier, and Jurgen Klopp looks angry as hell. The half-time talk is not going to be fun, lads.
After a fairly awful first half, the second hasn’t amounted to much. Liverpool are still struggling to find their edge, and our only fit center-back Joel Matip is subbed off with a back issue, with Takumi Minamino coming on. Henderson slots in to partner with Fabinho in the backline - apparently that’s where we’re at now. Trent is replaced by Neco Williams at 68:00 - he’s had a poor game. Fulham have more or less taken their 1-0 lead and decide to sit back and run the clock down. A free-kick by Wijnaldum ricochets off Adarabioyo’s arm, and a penalty is given somewhat harshly to Liverpool - GOAL! at 79:00 as Mohamed Salah converts.
Overall, Liverpool have seemed genuinely taken by surprise by Fulham’s intensity and drive from early on in this game, and have struggled to find their rhythm. Matip’s substitution could mean that we have zero fit* center-backs at the moment - a major cause for concern, if his injury is significant. We leave Craven Cottage with a point, and are second in the table on goal difference - a situation that could change next game.
[*Edit: first-choice senior]