No easy games
There is no easy game in the Premier League especially away from home. Coming off of a huge game in the Champions League does not help the case as games like the one in Munich are tiring physically and mentally. Fans looking for 5 or 6 goals did not consider these factors. Liverpool ended up playing down to the level of their competition which resulted in a lull after our goal and kept Fulham in the game.
Fulham is on their way back to the Championship and some of their play throughout the game showed why. Aside from Babel’s pace and quality, they did not pose a threat. As Klopp even said after the game, Liverpool’s start was rusty. As they warmed up to the game, we started getting into dangerous situations but extremely poor deliveries into the box by Robertson and TAA prevented us from capitalizing. Liverpool was able to stay wide and stretch the Fulham defense but did not get what they wanted out of it. Lack of clinical finishing and that final pass hurt us again and just like Klopp said, Fulham deserved the goal while the Reds deserved the win. They did get the win but caused more hair loss and heart burn in the process.
Mo needs a goal
With his work rate and effort, I truly believe Mo is a goal away from going back to being his clinical self. While Mane playing with a level of calm and confidence that keeps reminding us of the Salah of 2018, Mo is struggling to find the finishing touch. Salah missed a few more chances today and they were ones he would have finished last year. When he was one on one with a beautiful pass from Mane, I expected that ball to end in the far corner as it would have last year. Sometimes rushing it, sometimes taking one extra touch, Salah is not himself.
This is not to say he is contributing to the team’s success. On a Fulham counter, it was Salah’s relentless sprint back that saved Liverpool from a 3 on 1 attack by Fulham. It was him creating the chaos and panic before the penalty and he continues to be a threat on the ball.
We have to wait and the goal will come soon. My hope is it comes in a big game like the next one against the Spurs.
Lallana continues to provide value
Cozzy kept talking about what we need from Lallana and Sturridge over the second half of the season in our podcasts and how we will need their contributions.Adam is definitely delivering valuable contributions. With the absence of Henderson and Keita, he got his chance again. His sense of urgency and intensity made a huge difference. He kept winning the ball back with his press and his movement kept opening up space for others to run into.
This will be important in the last stretch of the season as he will be getting more opportunities and minutes even if some will not be as a starter.
Robertson and Trent struggle with their deliveries
A huge part of the Reds game is the use of their full backs pushing up. Especially with teams dropping back and staying tight on defense. Liverpool was able to overload and take advantage by staying wide but this is where they need precision in the deliveries coming from their full backs to be able to capitalize on the runs being made by the attacking players.
The concern is that the lack of sharpness is fatigue. We had a similar issue in our midfield last year where we did not have the depth to rotate and keep players fresh. While additions of Keita and Fabinho have helped solve that issue even when we have injuries, there are no replacements to give Robertson and Trent time off. Injury to Gomez and loaning of Clyne has left the right back position with no backup and Robertson’s natural backup is Moreno. I think most of us would rather have Robertson play at 50% rather than Moreno.
Goal differential is from days like today
We have talked about it on our American Scouser podcast several times as it is Hilary’s favorite topic. The goal differential… Today was a perfect example of why the Reds cannot keep up with City in that category. We seem to have a tendency to play down to the level of our opposition at times and be content with the lead as long as we keep possession and control of the game. City seem to be more methodical in their attack and they do not take their foot off the pedal. This might leave them vulnerable at times defensively but with the quality they have on the field, they manage to outscore their opponents and usually end up just pounding away 4-5 goals. I think we have the same quality when it comes to attacking but lack the ruthless attitude of scoring and continuing to step on the throat of the opponent. We seem content with just taking the lead and keeping the opponent down.
Few bonus points this week based on some of the discussions I have seen after the game already
- Was it a penalty? Yes… Even though Mane made the most of it and probably is not getting to that ball, stupid move by Rico to pull him back
- VVD or Alisson’s error? Two players who rarely make mistakes combined for this goal. Even though Alisson could have come out to clear the ball initially(VVD would have easily shielded off Babel off as he was in position), still have to put the error on VVD. Once he saw that Alisson was not there, he needed to be able to do better to clear it. With his solid play overall, he is human. I am just glad it was not what cost us points as it would have been so unfair on a player who has meant everything to that defense. He is definitely the best center back in the world at the moment.
- Where is Shaqiri? Looking like he has fallen pretty hard in the pecking order. With Ox coming back 100% after the international break, it is very possible that he might even lose his spot on the bench soon.