After the bungle in Belgrade, the Reds needed a response. It might not have been the most resounding reaction, but Liverpool finished off Fulham without too much trouble 2-0 at Anfield.
Fulham gave Liverpool some problems in the first half with the Reds starting a bit slower than expected. In fact, Ryan Sessegnon got a fortunate bounce that saw him get past Joe Gomez and through for a good look at goal before slicing his shot wide of the target.
Yet the moment that delivered the Reds with the go-ahead goal came after the defence held its nerve on a free-kick that ended up in the back of the net but was ruled offside. Alisson immediately pulled the ball from goal and restarted play with a blistering counter-attack as Trent Alexander-Arnold released Mo Salah down the right, racing behind Fulham’s back line and finishing with his left for his sixth of the season.
Early in the second half, the Reds doubled their advantage when Andrew Robertson sent a looping cross to the far post where Xherdan Shaqiri was all alone to volley it into the side netting inside the far post. From then on, the result was never in doubt.
Another win, while still not firing on all cylinders, another clean sheet, and the unbeaten streak in the league continues. Heading into another international break the Reds remain just behind Manchester City in the table by two points.
Here are four findings from the match.
With some standout individual performances over the last 10 months, it might seem that Andrew Robertson’s rise has almost been under the radar. Since he got his chance to start at left-back, he has become nearly undroppable. His contributions in recent weeks have been amongst the most valuable for the side.
Against, Fulham the Scot raced up and down the flank in typical fashion, providing defensive strength and attacking width. His graft is as strong as anyone at the club. Multiple times he overlapped Sadio Mané and latched on to lost causes, whipping crosses in from the by-line. His deep cross to assist Xherdan Shaqiri for the goal capped a more than deserving day for the full-back.
After last season’s performance, Mo Salah has come under extra scrutiny this term. However, his performance remains consistent with last year’s start and both he and Sadio Mané are just two goals behind leader Sergio Aguero. Against Fulham, the Egyptian showed the speed and sharpness of his more familiar form.
For the goal, Salah produced a signature streak in from the left, as he opened his body, and slotted it home with his left foot. It was a 14-second counter-strike from restart to celebration. Even before the goal, Salah was everywhere, forcing two saves at close range and causing Fulham no shortage of trouble. The only shame is that his form has begun surging right before a break in the schedule.
Sure, Xherdan Shaqiri scored his second goal for the Reds but the Swiss attacker is starting to show just how valuable he can be to Liverpool. In a side that has shown a lack of creativity in midfield, the summer signing brings a spark to the team that no other player currently can provide. His performances have rarely been dull.
Already a bargain, Jurgen Klopp may find it increasingly hard to leave the little attacker on the bench. With two goals and two assists in just eight appearances, his play certainly warrants more minutes. Given the freedom to drift at the tip of the midfield, he causes havoc and turns the front three more decidedly into a front four. He just keeps getting better.
City Stay in Sight
Despite Fulham fighting off relegation, Liverpool continued their unbeaten streak and stayed on the heels of league-leading Manchester City. At this time last season, the Citizens were already breaking away from the pack toward the title. They are still the club to catch but the Reds remain in the hunt after 12 matches.
What is most encouraging is that Liverpool have yet to completely click, continue to grind out victories, and endure a more rugged run of fixtures than the other Manchester side. While the hope of the Cottagers providing an opportunity for a hiding did not come to fruition, Liverpool have become so much more solid defensively that they do not need to batter teams any longer to win. Regardless, that fact is welcome as the Reds stalk City.