It’s going to be a slow process to get back to the kind of blistering attacking form of last season, so in the meantime wins like this are just what the doctor ordered.
Three points, a clean sheet, two good goals and some nice football in spurts. Decent day at the office.
Andy Robbo was terrific, Shaqiri showed again that we really benefit from his creativity and that he should start every week, but the most positive thing was how sharp Salah was. This was the best he’s looked all season after a slowish start to the campaign. Can he top the goalscoring charts again? If you think he can then sign up with bet365 with the code valid in 2019.
Nothing to be too perturbed about and it’s not a day to be looking at negatives.
Manager rating out of 10:
Jurgen Klopp, 7 -- Picked the right team to start the game and was rewarded with the win. He may have been tempted to bring Henderson back in but it was the right thing to ease him back gently as a second half substitute.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson Becker, 7 -- Didn’t have anything particularly difficult to do but at least Fulham kept him involved, which is more than some have managed this season. Distribution mostly excellent and it was his quick thinking that caught Fulham on the hop for the opening goal.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6.5 -- Better than he has been of late. Some nice cross field passing and one or two good crosses. Still a bit wayward at times and clearly not at his best, but he did alright and the ball down the line for Mo's opener was quality.
DF Joe Gomez, 7 -- Had one or two difficult moments with the physical Mitrovic but otherwise another fine display from the classy youngster.
DF Virgil Van Dijk, 8 -- It’s just too easy for him. Strolls through games just being utterly dominant. Wins every header, sprays passes around and oozes machismo. The only thing he’s not doing is scoring, which is perhaps why he used his captain’s privilege to pull rank on a free-kick that he smashed it into the wall. Might be a while before he gets to take another.
DF Andy Robertson, 8.5 -- Best player on the pitch. Everything he does is good. Not flashy, very unfussy, but just good with everything, whether its defending, crossing or passing. Brilliant ball to create the goal for Shaq and was a constant threat. Almost scored too, but was denied by a good save from the keeper.
MF Fabinho, 6.5 -- Kept it simple. Did ok but games like this are fairly easy.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 6.5 -- Same as Fabinho really. Disciplined, did his job, didn't really stand out.
FW Xherdan Shaqiri, 8 -- So close to completing defence splitting passes on so many occasions. Every time he gets the ball he's looking to make things happen. Has the vision and the execution to pull it off. Nice cool finish in front of the Kop to make the game safe. The crowd loves him. I love him. My Dad loves him more though.
FW Robert Firmino, 6 -- Looks a bit lost in this 4-2-3-1 system. As a 'nine' he's just perpetual motion, he never stops. Playing behind Salah though he just doesn't look as effective and there were times where he didn't seem to know where to run. Not sure why Klopp insists on using Mo through the middle every time he plays this system, but I'd like to see Mo on the right, Shaq in the hole and Bobby up top.
FW Sadio Mane, 6.5 -- Very erratic. Had some good moments and some terrible ones. An elephant like touch cost him a one v one with the keeper in the first half but he almost scored a screamer in the second with a rasping 25 yard drive. Nobody blows hot and cold quite like Sadio.
FW Mohamed Salah, 8 -- Sharp. Took his goal superbly and had some “vintage Mo” moments where he tied defenders in knots dribbling in the box. He’s had a few performances where it looked like he was back in the groove only to then follow it up with a below par display, but hopefully he can find some consistency now.
MF Jordan Henderson, 6 -- Replaced Wijnaldum for the final 20 minutes or so. Heavily involved, as he always is. Will presumably be starting again after the internationals.
MF James Milner, NR -- Late introduction for Shaqiri. Not really time to make much impact.
MF Naby Keita, NR -- Came on fro Fabinho in stoppage time.