Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Liverpool 1 Fulham 0 in the Premier League at Anfield…
NOTHING happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!
It’s also absolutely fine because the only goal is a Liverpool goal from the spot. More of this sort of thing. Especially away from home, but occasionally at home too.
Much of the football I grew up watching was like this. Something that happened in front of your retinas while you discussed other matters. Every now and then, something possibly of substance could happen, but if you were lucky it was mostly serene progress towards a one-goal victory.
If you were unlucky it became deeply unpleasant.
Liverpool were lucky in that they never really needed to try their luck. I mean it was a penalty, but one of those penalties which falls into the category of “bloody stupid”. Innocuous fouls there shouldn’t lead to 78 per cent chances to score. We’ve had them in the past against us – not only was Andy Robertson’s on Danny Welbeck in injury time not a foul, but even if it had been it was an innocuous nonsense that might as well have been 40 yards from goal.
They get given. You get them and you must take them. But it is another exhibit that the penalty area should be a semi circle that ends where the D ends and starts against the goal line where the penalty area currently starts.
Boxes are overrated.
Boxes are overrated. But occasionally they help. Liverpool had four or five players engaged with massive positional flexibility, but while recently this has massively helped, tonight it hindered. There could have been greater clarity of approach for individuals. There is a fine line between flexible and floppy.
It didn’t matter in the grand scheme. Darwin Nunez looked like a man who needs some time on the pitch. Kostas Tsimikas the same. Luis Diaz seemed surprised by the ease he could go past people on one hand, but also surprised by where his teammates were on the pitch on the other.
And had there been an opposition that would stiffen sinews, either with scoreline or approach, then perhaps it wouldn’t prove to be floppy. All season Fulham have grasped moments in games perfectly. But tonight they can’t find their grasp either.
The strange thing is that it is must win. For Liverpool to cling to slender top-four hopes, it matters. For the season to end as it should in order to trampoline into next it matters. For the current vibe it matters.
You know all this, of course. But it is also nice to have one like this from time to time. If it became a habit it would be concerning. This Liverpool side, though, had conceded five in its previous two home games. The clean sheet was everything.
Everything is to come. The vibe? To come. The trampoline? To come. The consequences? To come.
Tonight The Big Nine which had become The Big Five has become The Final Four. Liverpool are unbeaten in seven. Win the four, in any way shape or form, and that becomes 11. It becomes closer to a third of a season than a quarter.
It means that Saturday matters. That’s the other thing with these — they fall in runs of games. Suddenly you get one which isn’t quite the plan, but winning them gets the same number of points as the others.
The Final Four. Saturday teatime set up perfectly. That’s the spirit. That’s the thing.
See you then to get it down to three.
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“We’ve got a win without playing very well. We’ll take that, five on the spin puts pressure on the teams above us to keep winning games.”
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— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) May 3, 2023