Neil Atkinson’s post-match review for The Anfield Wrap after Fulham 1 Liverpool 3 in the Premier League at Craven Cottage…


THE better side. Feet on the ground, head in the sky

I mean, God. I mean, yes. I mean two teams play and the better side wins by two goals. The better side scores first. The better side is never behind.

Liverpool were the better side.

That, though, hasn’t meant anywhere near enough for far too long.

Therefore, today has led to an overwhelming sense of relief; Liverpool being better than Fulham in most phases led to a logical outcome.

This isn’t to be reductive – part of being better was having well more flair and that stems from Trent Alexander-Arnold who was given Sky Sports’s POTM award. I am not sure on that, but am sure he made it a pleasure to be alive.

What he does is incredible and it being treated as mundane is going to result in my incarceration. He sends it 80 yards and the punditry class shrug. He angles it 50 and they praise the touch of the receiver. He tackles it to feet 30 yards away and they act like it is an accident.

Right now he is the finest deep-lying passer in the world and this isn’t an accident and, to be clear, he comes from the place where I play snooker, where Paul Senior grew up, our city. This must be the place.

The greatest player on the planet right now, the most alien, most astonishing is Kylian Mbappe. He is the business. But even in this brief window of his return we get to see that possibly the next most alien is Trent Alexander-Arnold. Trent has been in our office and studio and shown unreal humility, but fuck humility for the next five games. We need the greatest to think he is the greatest.

And bang. There. Today. Our man makes is once.

This must be the place.

Liverpool need to be slaughtered at half time, especially the senior players. The failure to get into the break at 0-1 makes me want to go out – and to quote Nigel Blackwell – commit mass murder.

Lads – this isn’t difficult. It goes or we waste time and then it goes. Then we win throws and then, I’ll shock you, it goes.

Instead, Liverpool invite pressure almost as though it is a laugh. This isn’t Liverpool’s inexperienced players or flightier attackers. This is dyed in the wool winners of everything. And yet the ball comes back and ends up in the back of the net and my brain falls out of my ear.

This must be the place.

The second half is drop dead gorgeous, you know. Imagine they had won the last five, imagine Timothy Castagne’s goal was a 30-yarder, imagine they’d been hard done to and you could barely imagine better. They verge on being the Liverpool team of my dreams, the one I want to share with you.

Ryan Gravenberch makes it two sumptuously and they really are dominant. It just doesn’t feel it live because of the recent history, the daft nonsense before the break and because of the wider pressure.

But the point is the manager has had another excellent half time, reasserted what is good and we have benefited from it.

Two eventually becomes three and that is Diogo Jota being the best version of himself there and knowing exactly where he is on the pitch. The third is deserved and the points are deserved.

In October, this would in general barely elicit a word. The better side does the business. So what?

But it isn’t October. It is the business end and the mundane now feels exceptional and I am OK with that – five more mundane results for us suits me down to the ground.

Yet today was quite the examination and Liverpool came out of it in good nick. Just. But still. We have to start from here again.

This must be the place. Pick me up and turn me round.

Now Goodison Park on Wednesday where we need the better side to prevail. Never for money, always for love. Our side need to be ready and so do we. This is quite the week. One down. Two to go. You got a face with a view.

The better side. The form book back in through the window. A face with a view.


Download The Anfield Wrap’s free app for Liverpool FC podcasts, video and writing all in one place…

Recent Posts: