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Fulham 1 Liverpool 2 (Mar 17 2019)

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Report by
Dave Usher

 

It feels churlish to keep harking back to last season considering we’re doing so much better this year (we've already got more points and have seven games left!), but watching this I couldn’t help but think that we’d have scored six in a game like this last year without even breaking sweat. I know, I know, I’m even annoying myself with this 17/18 season nostalgia, but I can’t help it. Fulham were dreadful and they were there for the taking. Frankly, it’s ridiculous that we needed a late penalty to get over the line.

 

This should have been a routine win with a big dent put into the seven goal advantage City have over us. Instead it was a torturous last 15 minutes that has probably knocked six months off the end of my life. We won’t play a worse team all season (Huddersfield are shite but at least they can get behind the ball and make it difficult) but it’s typical Liverpool that they can make it look easy against Bayern Munich and then almost royally fuck things up against Fulham.

 

Sometimes games are just really difficult because the opposition dig in and are well organised, or because the players just can’t really get going. Neither was the case here. We played well in most aspects of the game and it never looked flat or disjointed. Fulham may have had men back behind the ball but there were still gaps all over the place and we had no problems playing through them. 

 

Up until the final pass, cross or shot I thought we looked good. We passed it around, switched the play quickly, found space between the lines, won it back quickly when we lost it and basically did everything you’d want to do up until the decisive moment, which was usually shite. That's why I think we'd have killed them last season.

 

I’m singling out Mo as the worst offender but it wasn’t just him. Both full backs got into some great positions but their delivery just wasn’t up to the usual standard, while Bobby started the game brightly but faded, seemingly bothered by whatever injury it was he picked up late in the first half.

 

It was mostly Salah though. He’s definitely let the recent lack of goals get in his head now. He’s missing easy chances, he’s going it alone when he should be passing, dribbling when he should be shooting, and too many of his shots are going straight down the keeper’s throat, whereas last year they were finding the top corner.

 

The worst moment of the game for him was when he completely ruined a glorious counter attacking opportunity because of a terrible, inexplicable decision. He had two players to his left and only needed to come inside to open everything up, but instead he went the other way and lost the ball. That just doesn’t happen if he’d been scoring regularly.

 

I said a few weeks ago that the Salah we’re seeing now is the Salah we thought we were getting when he signed him. A very good player but not the superstar he morphed into within a few weeks of his arrival. Sadly, “Superstar Mo” left the building in Kiev and barring a handful of cameo’s hasn’t been seen since. I keep saying it, but we need him back sharpish if we’re going to get over the line in either of these competitions we’re chasing.

 

We’d be well clear at the top with last year’s Mo and that’s just so incredibly frustrating. It’s not his fault and he’s trying his best, but whereas last year everything just happened naturally and he didn’t have to think about anything, this year has been the opposite. He’s not playing on instinct and some of his decision making has been dreadful. Sometimes it feels like he's really close to exploding in a flurry of goals again, other times it looks like he couldn't hit Harry Maguire's arse with a banjo.

 

 

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Thought the goal was completely on Van Dijk.  You’re winning 1-0 and for one of the few times in the game you’re running back to goal under pressure.  Just put it in the stands or hook it over your head.  It was an unnecessary risk that was a bit out of character for him.  As soon as he sees Alisson hasn’t come out for it he should just deal with it and bollock Alisson for not being awake when the ball is in touch.  The game being too easy led to Van Dijk doing that.  If that was against city or in a champions league final he doesn’t do it and everyone needs to be treating every game from now to the end of the season like that.

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Virgil should have cleared it in my opinion. That would have simplified everything. But a dreadful hoof from Milner. And terrible indecision from Allison.

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Games after CL are always difficult. I thought we did not had that many clear chances. But they were indeed abysmal.

 

Dave, what’s going on with Shaqiri? 

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3 hours ago, The Guest said:

Thought the goal was completely on Van Dijk.  You’re winning 1-0 and for one of the few times in the game you’re running back to goal under pressure.  Just put it in the stands or hook it over your head.  It was an unnecessary risk that was a bit out of character for him.  As soon as he sees Alisson hasn’t come out for it he should just deal with it and bollock Alisson for not being awake when the ball is in touch.  The game being too easy led to Van Dijk doing that.  If that was against city or in a champions league final he doesn’t do it and everyone needs to be treating every game from now to the end of the season like that.

 

I agree with pretty much all of that actually, especially how it might have been too easy and he wouldn't have done that against better opposition.

 

I still think it was proper shit from Alisson though.

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33 minutes ago, Arnaud said:

Games after CL are always difficult. I thought we did not had that many clear chances. But they were indeed abysmal.

 

Dave, what’s going on with Shaqiri? 

 

Last seasons record following champions League games. 

 

Four wins.   Tight 1-0 against palace.   Big wins against Arsenal,  West Ham and Bournemouth.

 

Three defeats to spurs Utd and Chelsea.

 

Six draws against Burnley,  Newcastle,  Chelsea,  Everton x2 & Stoke.   Seven goals scored in the nine games we fucked up in. 

 

 

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If this had been one of those post CL 'flat' performances where we looked leggy and nothing came easy to us, it would have been easier to understand. It wasn't like that though. We had energy, we were flying around, we passed it well, got into the right spaces, did everything you'd want us to do. 

 

Then it came to the final pass or shot and it was just crap. So frustrating to watch but ultimately we got away with it and we keep rolling.

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5 hours ago, dave u said:

 

I agree with pretty much all of that actually, especially how it might have been too easy and he wouldn't have done that against better opposition.

 

I still think it was proper shit from Alisson though.

I thought he was trying to play the percentages.  How many times do you see keepers dive at a ball and take a striker out giving a pen away.  I know he pulled off that brilliant one against United but he rarely commits like that.  He makes himself big and stops a lot of those one on ones doing it.  He tried the same with this and just got massively unlucky.  I think my point is that Milners was a fuck up that can happen to anyone and Alisson’s was also a situation he was forced into.  The whole thing could have been dealt with by big Virg playing safe because he was the one in control of his situation.  It’s a testament to the standard we hold him to though.

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Their goal was greatly influenced by the wind. We had a gale behind us second half and the sliced clearance from Millie held up. This caused some uncertainty between VVD and Alisson making a pass back more difficult.

 

All 3 might have done better but there are mitigating circumstances.

 

And on Mo, whilst he is clearly suffering from a lack of confidence, the fact opposition teams are double teaming him leaves space for others - eg Sadio. He will score soon and everything will be fine...

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The goal is on Virgil for me. He let Babel get close to him by slowing down and putting his arms out as if to say "where are you Allisson" when the ball was about 10 yards outside the area, then he compounded that with a poor header. Still as The Guest said it's a testament to his high standards.

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19 hours ago, Arnaud said:

Games after CL are always difficult. I thought we did not had that many clear chances. But they were indeed abysmal.

 

Dave, what’s going on with Shaqiri? 

 

The Swiss press reckon he’s been carrying a groin strain since Xmas, but we leave him on the bench as a decoy, presumably because there’s no-one else...

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1 hour ago, cinco veces said:

 

The Swiss press reckon he’s been carrying a groin strain since Xmas, but we leave him on the bench as a decoy, presumably because there’s no-one else...

Just read on the BBC that he's out of the Swiss Internationals with a groin strain!

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Good report, Dave.  Not turning possession & chances into goals would have cost against a decent team. Still, Big Virg's mistake for the season is now behind us, Mo has got to start scoring again soon and the break should see Hendo (& Lovren?) fit again.

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Mo isn't up to the standards of last season but that 60-70 yard run to get back and cover the defence when Fulham broke from a corner was fucking great, don't think I've seen that from him before.

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This is such a weird season, record points yet some really slack play in so many games. We've been saying since the start of the season that just wait until we click but it's never really happened other than the odd game. I watch the warm-ups when the full backs get to the bye-line and cross for the forwards or have a shot and 9 times out of 10 they miss, so we shouldn't be too shocked when they do the same in the match. But it's so annoying - we hit the first man again and again and again or hit it straight at the keeper again and again and again. Every other fucking side manage to put it through the defender's legs to put it on a plate for their strikers so why the fuck can't we!!! Dave's right that if we had 2017-18 Salah we would be walking the League but the same applies to Firmino. The 2019 version is a pale shadow - there was one break in the 1st half when he had about 3 different team mates available to put through on goal and he passed it straight into touch for a goal kick. "WTF was he thinking of" I bellowed at the mrs.

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