Liverpool – Fulham: Second-choice Liverpool couldn’t alter its woeful form as the Reds breathed further life into the relegation battle by falling 1-0 to Fulham on Sunday.
The Reds kept several regulars out of the starting lineup and conceded an Mario Lemina goal that would prove decisive at Anfield, where the reigning Premier League champions have now lost six-straight at home.
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Forget the injuries at the back, the woeful Reds attack has 10 goals in 12 Premier League matches since New Year’s Day, eight coming in three wins.
Liverpool is four points back of fourth and six clear of 11th-place Leeds but has played one or two more matches that the other teams in that group.
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Fulham’s 26 points are level with Brighton but behind the Seagulls on goal differential, one point behind Newcastle four shy of Burnley. Newcastle and Brighton have played on fewer game than the Cottagrs and Clarets.
Three things we learned from Liverpool – Fulham
1. Klopp buoys Fulham’s safety hopes: What does it say about Jurgen Klopp’s confidence in his reigning Premier League champions that he rested a wealth of regular starters for a UEFA Champions League second leg against RB Leipzig that sees Liverpool enter with a 2-0 away goal lead? Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara, Sadio Mane, and Trent Alexander-Arnold didn’t start and Klopp kept Roberto Firmino off the team sheet. This was a team who would win almost regardless of his Starting XI last season and defensive injuries don’t account for zero goals. Salah was worked over in defense on Fulham’s goal. That happens, but he usually does something at the other end to make amends. Not Sunday.
2. Fulham forges forward: How ridiculous this would’ve seemed in September, when Fulham’s defensive woes forced the club into acquiring a number of backs in order to try and preserve its Premier League status? The Cottagers only found one goal against a Liverpool back four starting three players with very little PL experience, as Josh Maja supplied some threat but a rough first half in the final third left the match alive for the hosts. That said, Scott Parker’s defenders were rarely in bad position even after Klopp deployed Sadio Mane to join Mohamed Salah. Fulham looks set to escape the bottom three.
3. No one fears the reigning champions’ attack: Liverpool has lost six of seven in Premier League play and has lost six-straight at home after going unbeaten at home the previous three seasons and drawing 10 times, seven of those coming in 2017-18. They lost five home PL matches total in the previous five league seasons. Liverpool has four goals in its last seven games, two which came in a 2-0 win over last-place Sheffield United. Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino have been available for almost every minute of that run, too, but teams are pounding away at the Reds attack and they aren’t being punished by a club lacking confidence and ideas.
Man of the Match: Joachim Andersen
The Lyon loanee (say that fives time fast) made a crucial late clearance and has been magnificent over the last two weeks.
Liverpool – Fulham recap
Kenny Tete’s searching cross was nearly put home by Josh Maja as the Cottagers came out of the gates with vigor against the second-choice Reeds.
Alisson made a mess of Maja’s 28th-minute header but saved his own skin on the follow-up, a second flub of the early stages at Anfield.
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Lemina gave Fulham into a deserved lead when Mohamed Salah was bodied atop the 18 and allowed the Gabonese midfielder a chance to rifle past Alisson for 1-0.
Alphonse Areola made a magnificent stop on Curtis Jones’ highlight-reel side volley just after the break, and the second half live in the Fulham half but the Cottagers were rarely truly troubled.