Fulham 1-3 Liverpool: ‘Jurgen Klopp’s clever changes keep Liverpool in title fight’ – Danny Murphy

Home » Fulham 1-3 Liverpool: ‘Jurgen Klopp’s clever changes keep Liverpool in title fight’ – Danny Murphy

It has been a tough couple of weeks for Liverpool but they are certainly not feeling sorry for themselves.

Instead, their performance against Fulham on Sunday said to me that they are still fighting like mad for the Premier League title.

Going into the game, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp had said he felt his side have been too easy to play against recently, so he will be very pleased with what he saw from them in their win at Craven Cottage.

Right from the start, Liverpool’s tempo was better than in either leg of their Europa League defeat by Atalanta, or their home loss to Crystal Palace last weekend.

This time, whenever they lost the ball, they were closing Fulham down and hunting in packs, and it was their intensity which gave them a platform to go on and win the game.

Refreshed midfield gives Reds a lift

The engine room of your midfield is crucial for any successful team, but especially with the way Liverpool play – which as we know is with high-energy and on the front foot.

It is a big ask for their players in those positions to continually do that week in, week out, especially playing as many as games as they have been in so many different competitions.

So, I thought it was clever of Klopp to change his midfield three on Sunday, and that is nothing against the trio who played in their 1-0 win in Italy on Thursday – they have all played their part this season, to help put Liverpool where they are.

When you begin the game looking lethargic and flat, like Liverpool did against Palace last week, it is really hard to then lift your levels.

In contrast, they always appeared sharp against Fulham, and the aggression I saw from midfield Harvey Elliott, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch played a big part in that.

Despite the scoreline, the Reds still weren’t perfect in the final third – there were occasions when they played the wrong final pass.

That kind of wastefulness has been the story of their disappointing results in the past fortnight but, this time, they got the job done.

No drama for Liverpool this time

Going a goal up though Trent Alexander-Arnold’s brilliant free-kick must have felt a bit odd for Liverpool, because they have fallen behind so often this season.

It was important because it meant that, when Fulham replied just before half-time, it did not feel like the end of the world.

It was only 1-1 so Liverpool were not chasing the game, and they never looked like they had that frantic feeling you can get when you fall behind and suddenly try to do everything at 100mph.

Instead, their second half display turned out to be a much more controlled performance, which was exactly what they needed.

Fulham had a go, of course, because they are a good side and very dangerous at home, but I was impressed with the way Liverpool kept them at arm’s length.

In a tricky away game at a crucial stage of the season they were able to maintain their levels, retake the lead and see out the game comfortably.

Recently, it has felt like every Liverpool game has had some drama in it but here there was none.

That is another aspect Klopp will be delighted with, and I am sure he would love it if Wednesday’s Merseyside derby goes the same way.

Why the derby is a game Reds should win

Going to Craven Cottage was tough – Fulham have taken four points off Arsenal this season – but Everton will offer a different kind of test.

Liverpool don’t have a great record in this fixture recently, with only two league wins at Goodison Park since 2012 – the other nine visits all ended in draws.

From personal experience of playing there with Liverpool, first and foremost you have to manage the atmosphere and the emotion of the occasion.

That takes a strong mentality but Klopp’s side have already shown us they have got that, and they also have a lot of players who have played in this game before.

I’d say the main difficulty for them this time comes from Everton’s win over Nottingham Forest earlier on Sunday, which gives them some breathing space at the bottom of the table.

They are no longer under huge pressure to beat Liverpool, which could have had an adverse effect, and they can play with more freedom now.

Still, if you look at recent form, Everton have struggled against top-class opposition, and Liverpool are certainly that.

Klopp also has the stronger squad – unlike Sean Dyche he could swap out four or five players who played at the weekend and not be weakened – and on the back of Liverpool’s performance at Fulham, I absolutely think they have got what it takes to win this game too.

They will still have to manage the early stages of the derby – the emotional part of it – but then their quality should take over, or at least I hope it does.

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