LIVERPOOL 0 - 1 FULHAM
Fulham: Mario Lemina 45’
After five consecutive home defeats at Anfield, I’m going to be real with you guys - I’m not looking forward to another home game. We’re eighth in the league table and trail leaders Manchester City by 22 points. Sigh. Fulham themselves trail us by 20 points so this is an opportunity for us to, hear me out... maybe not lose a football game?
Bobby Firmino has a minor knock (who doesn’t, at this point?) and we have a backline of infants and Andy Robertson (Trent is benched). Naby Keita and Diogo Jota both start today however, and we’ll see a return to some sort of mutating 4-2-3-1 it seems, with Sadio Mane benched as well.
This game sees our 16th different center-back partnership and the youngest so far - and it shows. The backline is caught out a number of times by runners like Fulham’s Lookman who receives long balls and charges towards Alisson. Luckily his finishing is sub par.
Liverpool’s midfield are missing in action for the first ten minutes and then start gaining control of possession, but to little effect. Salah looks determined and wrestles away Fulham defenders frequently, creating a number of chances, but he is outnumbered, and also isolated. Reminder that he’s missing Firmino’s work rate behind him.
It takes until the 30’ mark for Keita to fire our first shot on goal, which is saved. At 45’, a Fulham free-kick is intercepted by Salah, but he gets immediately dispossessed at the edge of the box by Mario Lemina and we have a GOAL! The half ends 1-0 to Fulham.
The second half resumes with a slightly brighter performance by Liverpool, but their general play is disjointed and ultimately lackluster. Liverpool crosses are easily intercepted by Fulham, possession is lost almost as soon as it’s gained.
A bright moment occurs at 47’ where a Trent-like cross from Neco is shot expertly towards goal by a quick responding Jota - but Areola saves it. It’s been a better half for Neco overall, who, while still flawed, is playing in a more progressive role up the pitch almost like a right winger.
The closes Liverpool get is a Mane header at 70’ that hits the post, and then Shaqiri shoots the ball just over at 71’. Substitutes Fabinho, Trent and Mane are unable to make a notable impact. The game ends 1-0 to Fulham despite some 15 attempts by Liverpool.
Liverpool look tired and are playing at a level far from their usual ruthless edge. Fair play to Fulham for cranking out a result, made easy by the Reds.
It’s only March 2021 and there are ten more games to go. We have to sit through 900 more minutes of this. And then we take a long nap to wipe this season from memory. The sort of nap from which you wake and don’t remember where you are, or what time of day it is. Or that Liverpool had six (or more) successive defeats at Fortress Anfield in the 2020-21 season.