Talking Points – Liverpool 2-0 Fulham

Goals from Mo Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri saw Liverpool put the disappointment of midweek defeat behind them with a relatively comfortable victory over Fulham at Anfield.

Reds’ fullbacks create Fulham’s problems…

After being substituted at half-time against Red Star, it was an important game for Trent Alexander-Arnold – named in the starting line-up despite having a poor start to the season by his standards. A few wayward passes to start the game were soon cut out and it was the right-back’s incisive through ball that assisted Salah in opening the scoring. Alexander-Arnold sprayed around some lovely passes as the match went on and along with Andy Robertson was a key outlet as the Reds exploited overlaps left by an unorganised Fulham defence. Robertson, in particular, was superb and deservedly man-of-the-match. His cross from the left was inch-perfect for Shaqiri to double Liverpool’s lead and the assist capped off another assured display for the Scot. Alexander-Arnold will face a fight for his place in the side given Klopp’s liking for Dejan Lovren at centre-back, but Trent and Robertson will always play integral parts when the Reds are against a side that sits deep.

4-2-3-1 gets the best out of Fabinho and Shaqiri…

What a surprise. Klopp returns to the 4-2-3-1 that was so successful in wins over Red Star and Cardiff, and Liverpool win again. The double pivot of Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum that has been deployed in all three games was effective once more, and the pair is developing a good understanding of one going forward while the other stays, and continue to use the ball well. Fabinho is growing in confidence by the week and flighted a couple of great passes that nearly led to goals. He may commit a few fouls, but that helps disrupt attacks and the opposition from creating flowing moves, but for the most part, Fabinho’s defensive awareness is excellent. Shaqiri was thankfully back in the side, and the Alpine Messi picked up dangerous positions all match and is a creative threat as soon as he gets on the ball. He took his goal expertly and is really benefitting from the 4-2-3-1 system where three attackers will all make intelligent runs ahead of him. Hopefully, the 4-2-3-1 is here to stay.

Liverpool’s deserved fortune but VAR is a must…

As soon as the cross went in towards Aleksandar Mitrovic it felt like a goal was coming. What wasn’t expected was that the goal would be a Liverpool one just 13 seconds later. The offside call for Mitrovic was very tight and you could change your mind on every viewing, but what was certain was that the ball was moving when Alisson took the quick free-kick and therefore Liverpool’s goal shouldn’t have stood. However, what goes around comes around seemingly and the Reds were robbed when Sadio Mane’s goal was ruled out for offside in the draw against Arsenal last weekend. What is clear though is that VAR can’t come soon enough and really should have been in use in the Premier League this season. It’s scary that the closer we are getting to VAR being introduced in England, the more frequent poor officiating decisions are becoming. You only have to look at Charlie Austin’s post-match interview to know how some of the players are feeling.

Goals not aplenty but Klopp’s side keep the wins coming…

The winning margin probably should have been more than two – Sergio Rico making a few great saves for Fulham – but once Shaqiri made it 2-0, Liverpool seemed relatively happy to see out the game and take a 2-0 win. An attitude like this will see the Reds get nowhere near close to catching up with Manchester City’s goal difference, but realistically, that isn’t going to happen anyway. Therefore all Liverpool, and any team that wants to attempt the seemingly impossible, can do is keep winning matches and try and finish ahead of Man City on points. The performance against Fulham wasn’t anywhere near perfect but a win and a clean sheet will please Klopp, especially going into the international break. All Liverpool can do is keep on winning and pray for a miracle.

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