In a game that ended totally void of tension, Liverpool comfortably beat the Premier League’s bottom side, Fulham, in Sunday’s early kick-off.
Liverpool not at their best, but remain unbeaten
Serious questions were raised after Liverpool’s shock Champions League midweek defeat to Red-Star Belgrade, with supporters raising concerns over a series of slack performances, which remain largely unpunished by Premier League opponents. Liverpool seem to have the quality to brush aside the majority of the sides outside of the top six, a natural quality that doesn’t come from playing well but just having exceptional levels of ability which, so far, has been easy enough to remain unbeaten. Whether Liverpool will be punished for some slack play, as Fulham briefly threatened to do in this match, still remains to be seen.
Thirteen seconds that changed the game
Only thirteen seconds stood between Aleksander Mitrovic powering a header into the Liverpool net and Mohamed Salah scoring his sixth goal of the season; the quick turnaround was due to the linesman’s flag disallowing Mitrovic’s goal, a contentious decision which was met with the quick-thinking of Alisson Becker who played Trent Alexander-Arnold who found Salah through on goal who punished some dozy Fulham defending.
Not many people can agree on whether Mitrovic was onside or not, which not only showcases how badly VAR is needed in the Premier League but also, paradoxically, how it might not be able to give a definitive answer either. Fulham may still feel aggrieved with the goal though as the Liverpool keeper clearly took the free-kick with a moving ball – when you’re down the bottom, luck just doesn’t go your way.
Shaqiri is an excellent rotation option for Liverpool – especially at Anfield
Shaqiri’s goal against Fulham, a lovely cushioned volley from inside the box, has once again shown what an excellent option he has been for Liverpool this season. When Liverpool play a team that their fans (and Klopp) will believe they can comfortably beat, Shaqiri is dispatched to play in an attacking midfield option, effectively lending an extra body to the well-publicised trio of Firmino, Mane and Salah. He may not be at the same level of ability as the now-departed Philippe Coutinho but he definitely has the same ideas, the same quick feet and excellent vision for a pass. He may not be as powerful an option against the big sides, with his forward runs leaving space in midfield, but against the lesser sides that is a risk definitely worth taking.
Despite improvements, Fulham still not good enough
It is a surprise to many that Slaviša Jokanović is still in charge of Fulham after six, now seven, consecutive defeats. They played much better than they have done for quite some time at Anfield, with an interesting raft of changes being deployed including a return for Alfie Mawson and a surprisingly lost starting place for Jean Michaël Seri. They let themselves down though with extremely lazy defensive in both of Liverpool’s goals but can count themselves unlucky for both the Mitrovic goal being disallowed and also for a Ryan Sessegnon chance which squeaked inches wide after he was set through on goal.
It could have been different for Fulham on another day but it is frightfully clear how their confidence has deserted them – the last half an hour of the game was a training match in which Fulham’s players could not have looked more demoralised.
Chambers as a defensive midfielder
The biggest surprise of Jokanović’s changes for this match was the deployment of Arsenal loanee Calum Chambers as a defensive midfielder. His interceptions and tackles were solid in the first half as Fulham frustrated Liverpool but once his side conceded, Chambers began to become sloppy in both the pass and the tackle. However much Fulham may complain about the refereeing decision to disallow a goal for them, the referee also made a mistake in not sending off Chambers for a horrible challenge on Salah – as a midfield audition for his boss, this wasn’t particularly convincing from the England international.