Paul Tomkins, Andrew Beasley, Daniel Rhodes, Chris Rowland and other TTT regulars will give their thoughts on the match for 24 hours after the game, and there’s post-match statistics and videos too.
After a fairly abject first half, where an ageing Liverpool team shorn of some younger stars looked slow and entitled (and lacking the title of the assistant manager’s new book), Liverpool were the better team in the second half, and could have come away with all three points after twice being behind to an excellent Fulham side, who appeared to “want it more” initially.
While he needs time to adapt and improve, Darwin Núñez simply has to start games now. He’s a chaos machine.
Roberto Firmino remains a lovely player who can offer a lot, but a slow and ageing (if talented) midfield of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago makes for four players in that key area who hog the space, prefer passes to feet and rarely run in behind.
Harvey Elliott’s youthful vigour also feels necessary right now, even if it’s yet another injury to Thiago that may force the change.
Elliott and Núñez joined Luis Díaz (until he faded) in providing something extra, although James Milner looked like a lamb in his 20s in a game where Fabinho appeared to be about 37 and woefully off the pace. I already had a strange hunch that Milner may play more minutes this season, with him the obvious fourth sub to use in almost any game situation.
While it was ultimately a dive, I think Fulham’s penalty was one of those where a lazy dangled leg (summing up Liverpool’s day at times) is still impeding a striker, contact or not. I’d like to see them given consistently, however, such as to Mo Salah too. Díaz was not given a free-kick on the edge of the box as he tried to stay on his feet when more clearly fouled, and that’s where refs remain utterly dumb.
It’s just a shame that Liverpool won the woodwork count, offside-goal count and the near-miss count, but couldn’t claw back a victory from twice being behind.
Defeat would have been harsh on a fast and fiery Fulham, and there must be some kind of statistical anomaly for Liverpool to play a hyped-up promoted side on the first day of each of the last four seasons, which is a 7/1 chance x a 7/1 chance x a 7/1 chance x a 7/1 chance. You never want those teams on the first day: you want them when they’ve blown their wad by November.
Even so, their cup-final hunger was not met by Liverpool in the first half, where the Reds simply did not show up, Díaz aside.
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