That was painful. Despite a much changed side (including many of the players fans have been clamoring to see inserted into the line up), a similar pattern appeared for Liverpool FC. Look slow and out of sorts early, make a crucial mistake the leads to a goal, and then pile on the pressure but fail to finish. The hope for a top four finish is drifting further and further away as Liverpool lost for the sixth consecutive match at Anfield.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
Naby Keita and Diogo Jota
Both players made their first start since December, and both went the full 90 without injury. Yay.
The Brazilian keeper was a rock behind a porous back line. He made a couple of big saves early in the match to keep Liverpool in the game.
The big lug was given a big task today. Paired with a youngster on either side of him in Rhys Williams and Neco Williams, Phillips did his best to hold down the fort. He was dominant in the air again, winning 5 headers. Despite his limited speed and athleticism, he did his best to cover a lot of ground as Neco Williams pushed high up the right flank (which looked like a tactical decision). Late in the match, as Liverpool were throwing the kitchen sink at Fulham to get an equalizer, Phillips stayed forward and threw his body around to try and win the ball in the box any way he could. Phillips is not likely to stick with Liverpool in the long run, but he is taking his chances to prove he can play for a mid-to-lower Premier League side long term.
Anyone Tasked With Scoring Goals
Yet another game with disappointment in front of goal for Liverpool. It has been a month since the Reds scored a goal at Anfield. There have been plenty of clear cut chances, but the players you would expect to bury them have been misfiring badly.
Mohamed Salah played as the point player for much of the match, but rarely threatened the goal despite getting the ball in good areas several times. He just seems to be looking for the perfect shot these days instead of hitting a quick release.
Diogo Jota moved into decent positions, but only had one shot. What a shot it was, though, an absolute rocket on the volley that was well saved. Hopefully as he works his way back into fitness and form, he can get more involved in the attack.
Sadio Mané came on in the second half and continued his streak of poor finishing. He had a looping header that came off the post, and then whiffed on another shot inside the six yard box.
Xherdan Shaqiri came close a couple of times, but failed to put anything on frame. His free kick dipped just a little too late, dropping just over the bar. He hit a curler in the second half that whipped just outside the post as well.
Top 4 Hopes
Liverpool are currently languishing in 7th in the table. They are one point ahead of Spurs, who have two games in hand. They also sit behind West Ham and Everton, who also both have two games in hand, and a resurgent Chelsea side with a game in hand. With Liverpool’s current form in the league, they would need a miracle. It now seems their best chance to qualify for the Champions League next season is to win the Champions League this season. Gulp.
Credit to the Opposition
After a very poor start to the season, Scott Parker has gotten his Fulham side playing well over the last couple of months. Today, the Cottagers set up to exploit the space behind Liverpool’s ponderous defensive line. They were quick on the counter, and created several very good shooting opportunities. With some better finishing, could have really walloped Liverpool today. With the win, Fulham give themselves a chance to break out of the relegation zone.
What Happens Next
Liverpool travel again to Hungary for their “home” game against RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Wednesday. Liverpool have a 2-0 lead in the tie. At least the game isn’t at Anfield?