Has Anfield become a Minefield for Liverpool as they stumble to a sixth successive defeat?
Can Liverpool win at Anfield? Let alone winning, can they at least score at home?
Is their empty performance a result of empty stands?
As Liverpool stumbled to yet another loss at Anfield, this time at the hands of Fulham, going down 1-0. Post-game, I pondered on these questions with no clear answer coming to mind.
The last time, Jurgen Klopp’s men actually managed a goal at home was exactly a month back, the solitary one in the 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City.
Yes, such has been the gap and as a result performance game on game that continues to deflate.
Well, yesterday was no different as Klopp made seven changes to his team from the Chelsea game exposing a young defence to Fulham with Fabinho, Trent Alexander Arnold, Sadio Mane and Thiago benched amid others.
There was criticism on this decision from some quarters, with a certain thought process tilting towards – Has Jurgen Klopp already surrendered a top 4 finish?
Hence, he benched key players in this Premier League clash to keep them fresh for the mid-week Champions League return fixture against RB Leipzig.
In truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. At least there is still hope to progress in Europe.
Anyway, lets turn our focus on the game last evening as Liverpool went from once being the head to now being in unwanted headlines:
A spirited effort by the Cottagers as they draw first blood
In just the 11th minute, Fulham created their first opportunity as Lookman set down the left flank with young Reds’ defender Nico Williams not managing to even get close to the Englishman as he drilled his shot just wide of the Liverpool goal.
The Merseyside club had their own opportunity to score in the 15th minute after a good link up play between Mohamed Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri, with the Egyptian beating Fulham defender Aina to get into a shooting position only to be denied by keeper Aerola, who came rushing off his line and managed to turn the ball away just in the nick of time.
Fulham would then continue to toy with the young Liverpool defence through their incessant attacks and their opportunity would finally come in the 45th minute, when Salah failed to clear a free kick after it was deflected by fellow defender Andrew Robertson as Fulham’s Mario Lemina outmuscled the Egyptian to gain possession and drilled the shot in the far-bottom corner of goal.
The result, Liverpool 0 – 1 Fulham as the first 45 ended.
Liverpool show intent in the second 45 amid no goals
The Reds started the second half with much intent as Diogo Jota almost evened the score in just the 48th minute with the Fulham keeper again making a brilliant save.
Liverpool would have another opportunity to draw level in the 70th minute when substitute Sadio Mane’s looping header hit the cross bar after the Senegalese received a brilliant cross from Naby Keita.
Moments later, Shaqiri also managed a powerful strike at goal albeit going inches wide.
The Reds tried everything to draw level but the Cottagers put up a defensive display that was as impressive as their attacking intent in the first half.
As the referee blew the full-time whistle, Scott Parker, the Fulham coach was full of emotion amid what he could not accomplish as a player, he finally accomplished as a manager, a win at Anfield.
What’s next for the Reds as they wallow at no. 8 on the league table?
Liverpool were down to the seventh place in the league table after the Chelsea debacle and now have descended further to eighth as Tottenham with a decisive win over Crystal Palace climbed to sixth one above West Ham who are now in seventh, having played two fewer games than the Reds.
With wallowing at no. 8 now, is their ambition of a top 4 finish all but over?
Well with performances that are marred by constant defeats, one would think so albeit a silver lining amid the dark clouds is Liverpool is the only team that has more games left against bottom half opponents in the league vis-à-vis all teams above them in the table.
Could this serve as some solace for all Kopites including me?
In time we will know, as we draw our attention to the mid-week return fixture against RB Leipzig in the Champions League which the Reds already lead 2 nil.
A victory there is more than a possibility, as we back our team now more than ever.
Unity is strength – Let’s Go Reds – You’ll Never Walk Alone!