[Fulham 2-2 Liverpool]
Here is what you will hear about this game: Fulham played well and based on this performance, maybe they will finally be able to stop their constant promotion-relegation cycle and stay in the Premier League this season.
Here is the truth: Liverpool gave it away. Fulham didn’t lay down and let themselves be steamrolled, but that would have been unexpected of them or any other Premier League side, especially one following promotion. In truth, it was the Reds who gave The Cottagers an opportunity, which they took with gusto.
Take the first half. It was one of the worst Liverpool played in a fairly long while, and it had little to do with Fulham; the Reds’ midfield couldn’t seem to string a few passes together, and the team created, quite literally, nothing. The Reds ended up with no chances of any kind. If anyone needed confirmation of the pre-season concern that the midfield might be the team’s weakness this season, this first half certainly added fuel to the fire. It was a horrendous performance, and Mitrovic was all too happy to provide an emphatic exclamation mark with his well-taken, powerfully headed goal over a craven (pun certainly intended) Trent near the half-hour mark.
The hosts’ center forward later acted his way successfully to a penalty and second goal, nailing himself an excellent season opener. But it was ultimately Liverpool who gave him the opportunity to shine.
2nd Half Subs Made a Difference
There were moments in the second half when Liverpool seemed to wake up from their slumber, and when they did, the game quickly changed tenor. In a way, it was frustrating to watch, because it made the rest of the game even more painful. Those stretches showed how easy it could have been to finish this game with a healthy winning margin. Nunez might end up as the new Fernando Torres, although he got a bit lucky with both his audacious backheel goal and his assist to Salah. The latter set a new record of scoring in the opening game for five seasons running.
Unfortunately, these are the kinds of games that lead to losing the league by a point in May. It used to be that a team could afford the occasional slip-up, especially in these early stages of the season, but when 90 points don’t even get you close, this is no longer the case. Or maybe I’m just being cranky because I had to wake up at 4 AM to watch a howler.
Congratulations to Fulham, then, but other teams won’t make it that easy for you. As for the Reds – wake up, please. Charity Shield aside, please remember that we’re playing for keepsies now.