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Positives and negatives: Liverpool 4-3 Fulham

Written by Cameron Ramsey on 4th December 2023

Nobody quite knows what to think or feel. We don’t think we’ll ever be able to press our finger on our seventh L of the season but Cam’s put his digits to work to see if he can be the voice of reason.

That was unbelievable. Batshit, enthralling, Marco Silva’s Fulham shook hands with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and they proceeded to lump one another without relent for 105 gripping minutes of prime Premier League entertainment. It doesn’t get any better than that.

A game that will go down in the annals as a modern-day classic, until it gets old, obviously, victory was cruelly ripped from the visitors by the hosts’ late, late resurgence but the Whites, accept it or not, can keep them chins up with heads held high. That’s football, that’s Fulhamish, it’s that conflicting sensation in the pit of the stomach we know all too well and yet, we’ll still be back for more madness on Wednesday evening.

All eyes on Nottingham Forest, or eye if you’re Bernd Leno. From what I’ve heard, the away end was riddled with tourists and Reds fans – what a surprise. But if you’re in attendance midweek, I implore you all to open those gobs and give it some beans. The boys will react, they’ll be hurting more than ever and we have to back ’em, no bullshit, no excuses.

Positives

Heartbroken, but proud

Teams should not tread Anfield’s turf if they’re not prepared to go to war and though our emotions will take some considerable time to heal, matchday 14 does not reflect Fulham’s do-or-die resilience and defiance. We were so, so close to securing a famous victory against a Liverpool side that hadn’t tasted defeat at home for ten games prior kick-off, we were within touching distance of settling for a ferociously deserved point but it just wasn’t to be. We battled tooth and nail, it wasn’t enough, however I feel an overriding sense of pride in this loss because we didn’t bottle it, nor did we submit once the Reds took the lead.

The Whites should be credited, not criticised. Klopp’s headliners were made to sweat for maximum points, each of their four goals were unstoppable and for what it’s worth, Silva’s warriors left absolutely everything on the pitch. Even Raul Jimenez got busy up top, he graduated from a brisk stroll to a moderate jog! We held our discipline, the entire match was a pressure cooker, end-to-end, and our enthusiasm didn’t decline.

We were committed throughout, we forced one of Europe’s heavyweights to the wire and we were relevant from the opening whistle to the closing bitter end. This was Fulham’s most convincing outing of the season, we exhibited football that truly belongs in the top-flight and I refuse to be pissed off because of Liverpool’s freakish finishing.

We are a team that’s adapting, we simply didn’t overcome on this occasion. We can live with that and we can certainly work with it. We are fashioning multiple goal scoring opportunities, we’re converting a majority of them, too, and if we’re geared to puff chests as we did in Merseyside in the coming weeks, with a congested festive schedule to navigate, we will find ourselves on the right side of these results because our stimulating performance on Sunday afternoon suggests that we can and will trouble sides in this division, even the elite that just presume they aren’t going to be tested by lowly little clubs like Fulham.

Wilson’s justified start

Pulling level where it all began, Harry Wilson stirred up a frenzy in the 24th minute. Liverpool would’ve expected a walkover following Trent Alexander-Arnold’s sublime opener (which has actually been attributed to Leno, but whatever), however that wasn’t to be the case. Fulham slickly manoeuvred possession along the left, we’ll touch on the interplay that led to the goal soon but Wilson’s positioning was spot on and his diversion was instinctive. This is why the Welshman, in my opinion, should be a starter.

There’s plenty of competition in the fold. Silva’s selections have to be considered although Harry offers a little extra than Willian, for example. The Brazilian was clinical from the spot on last Monday but other than that, his outings have been distinctly average. Of course, Wilson wasn’t named at Willian’s expense, but his interchangeability enables him to take up central positions freely, he’s adept on either flank and his only objective’s to commit his marker. We have to utilise him at this period of the season, we know all too well that he’s a hot and cold performer but currently, he’s coming to boil nicely.

Prodding his first league goal of the season against his boyhood club will be a huge boost to Wilson. He could’ve possibly grabbed a brace if his first touch was stronger following Alexander Iwobi’s knockdown although beside that, his overall input was expansive, routine and now he’s back on the score sheet, he’s due a spell where his goal involvement expands even further and for that, we will be there.

King Kenny‘s back

Sound the bugles! Roll out the red carpet! His majesty hath returned and he is perfect. Kenny Tete, the King of the right-sided realm reclaimed his statutory post in Silva’s XI and his stately presence was apparent to all. Tete hadn’t featured since our mid-September win against Luton Town, his deputy, Timothy Castagne, stood in remarkably well in the Dutchman’s absence but there’s a clear first-choice between the two. Kung Fu Kenny, how we’ve missed him so.

Both Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz pitted themselves against Tete, they’d surely have the legs to bypass a player with a dodgy groin but he isn’t just a guy, he is that guy. His covering and awareness put the dampeners on the Reds’ activity along the right, he was goal-side whenever the hosts attempted to probe and when he’d isolated his target, there really aren’t many better fullbacks, anywhere, in one-on-one situations. When he had to recapture possession, he was clutch.

At the back, as ever, Tete had his duties on lock and in advanced areas, especially as he restored parity before the break, he was very much in the right place at the right time. He didn’t jump the gun as Jimenez’s deflected nod fell in his path, he composed himself to flick past an sprawling Caoimhín Kelleher and while VAR tried so desperately to rule out his first goal of the campaign, all was legal and above board.

Tete would probably admit that he enjoys firm challenges more netting rare goals but his celebrations would’ve fooled you. He really relished that moment, he’d had to endure months on the outside looking in, fully aware of Castagne’s excellent handiwork but surely, even in defeat, there is no better way to announce oneself again. A goal and a fine defensive display, that’ll settle the nerves and shake off the cobwebs alright.

Lively along the left

Mohamed Salah was poised to record his 200th goal for Liverpool – Antonee Robinson put a stop to that. Iwobi’s filled in wherever and whenever and with Jedi in support, the adjustable attacker-come-midfielder was magnificent. Our left side is frequently hailed as our main source of invention and it was hugely enticing at Anfield, as the Reds’ struggled to contain it.

Intercepting at will, galloping at a pace only he can sustain, Robinson was a nightmare to track and in the build-up to Wilson’s goal, he provided the assist with precision. Pinpoint crosses just aren’t Antonee’s thing, but he was bang up for it. His concentration was constant, his energy was too much to handle and he combined with Iwobi tremendously well to manufacture meaningful passages out wide.

Antonee was on smoke, he slammed the door shut on Salah and Alex was also a mover and a shaker ahead of the former Toffees man. Iwobi is one of the silkiest ball carriers I’ve ever seen in a Fulham shirt. He didn’t blister across the surface but he manipulated possession to our advantage, a simple change in tempo and direction offset Liverpool’s defensive composition and he’s a naughty little dancer when nutmegs are on the menu.

I ain’t never laid eyes on a mugging such as Iwobi’s on Alexander-Arnold but blimey, I am going to repeat it on loop. His footwork’s crazy, a freestyler on a professional stage but roastings aren’t all there is to it. Iwobi put a shift in to keep up with Antonee’s invested efforts, he drove the Whites upfield with to relieve stress and pressure and with his head up, he was such a calm distributor amid the non-stop madness. Ant and Alex, I could get used to that pairing for sure.

Negatives

You. Just. Don’t. Stop. Those.

A battered and bruised Bernd could do nothing whatsoever with Liverpool’s quartet of worldies. Argue amongst yourselves, no ‘keeper in existence would get anywhere near them, and our groggy German, with one functioning peeper, didn’t stand a chance. All of them were sensational. I’m not even sure this can really be counted as a negative. It may only be so because only Fulham could concede four goals of such outrageous quality, whilst scoring three themselves, and I don’t think much more can even be said about it either.

Without them, Liverpool would’ve been limited. We were sound defensively and for all of them other than the set-piece stormer, you’ve people claiming we should’ve closed them down. Behave. these goals were struck on impulse, we had to remain rigid and bank up as Liverpool attacked and if a player has a pop from range, basically on a whim, what can be done about it? 79% of the time, probably, they don’t fly in. On Sunday, they bloody well did.

TAA’s free-kick had the shape of Kim Kardashian’s left arsecheek, his second – while it came from a blatant foul on Bobby Decordova-Reid – was hit with venom on an unreachable flight path, Wataru Endo’s first-time peach echoed Joao Palhinha’s at the City Ground last season and Alexis Mac Allister took the piss with a shitpinger from 45,000 yards out. Look at me, tossing myself into a coma over goals we didn’t even score ourselves, but the bottom line is plain and simple: You. Just. Don’t. Stop. Those.

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