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Reds’ “wake-up call” ahead of “hell of a test” vs. Spurs – Media on Fulham 1-1 Liverpool

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The media expressed sympathy for Liverpool‘s injury crisis but felt the 1-1 draw at Fulham exposed just as concerning issues with away form and “frailty.”

The Reds missed the chance to move clear at the top of the table with a disappointing afternoon at Craven Cottage.

Mohamed Salah kept his nerve from the penalty spot to earn a point, after an awful first half left Liverpool trailing to Bobby Decordova-Reid’s clinical strike.

Nothing went right for the Reds on the day and the frustration at dropping points was further compounded by more rotten injury news with four more players out.

It sets up a huge clash against Tottenham at Anfield on Wednesday night, but before attention turns to that, here’s how the media assessed Sunday’s draw.

 

Reporters were sympathetic to the injury situation, noting how the Reds are facing an increasingly impossible task…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's Curtis Jones looks dejected after the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Neil Jones, writing for Goal, stated that this injury crisis is as concerning as the way in which the Reds are dropping points at an unusual rate:

“The dropped points are piling up – that’s 11 now, if you’re counting – but just as concerning to Klopp will be the injury situation.

“Because it’s getting worse by the day.”

ESPN’s Tom Hamilton wrote that Liverpool absolutely must reinforce the squad in January, or the Reds can wave goodbye to any silverware this season:

Liverpool will monitor Matip now, with the centre-back already missing six of their 12 top-flight games this term due to injury, but this means Liverpool must now buy in January if they are to maintain their multi-front trophy attack.”

The Liverpool Echo‘s Ian Doyle explained why Jurgen Klopp should consider bringing in another midfielder, as well as a centre-back:

“With Naby Keita’s unreliable fitness evidenced by another absence, it may well be that Klopp will be compelled to reinforce in the January transfer window, whether it be to strengthen the strained centre-back resources or add another more creative option.”

Jones pondered whether Klopp made a mistake playing Diogo Jota in the dead-rubber Champions League draw with FC Midtjylland:

“The Portugal forward has been in dazzling form since his summer arrival from Wolves, and many will question the wisdom of putting Jota through 90 minutes against Midtjylland, given the game had little riding on it except for prize money.

“Certainly, his team selection in Denmark raised eyebrows.”

The Independent‘s Miguel Delaney assessed the match as one that was “crying out for Thiago Alcantara” to provide the craft and creativity to open Fulham up:

Curtis Jones was a bright spot for Liverpool in this regard. In a game that was crying out for Thiago Alcantara, he was providing the most perceptive moments, and looked likeliest to create.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 6, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson, wearing a rainbow armband, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hamilton praised Fabinho and Jordan Henderson‘s centre-back efforts, but highlighted that the two are therefore a big miss in midfield:

“While Fabinho has done an admirable job at centre-back, and Henderson also helped cancel out any Fulham darts in the second half, their turn at the back means Liverpool missed their presence in midfield.”

The Liverpool Echo‘s Paul Gorst also applauded Fabinho‘s form but explained that the Brazilian’s prolonged spell at centre-back will be “counter-productive” in the long-term:

“Whether you now consider Fabinho a de-facto one or not is subjective, but having him continue playing outside of his best position in midfield is surely counter-productive, long term.

“In fairness, the Brazilian has been in inspired form throughout this run, reinventing himself to the point where he has shipped just the one goal in 1,035 minutes across all competitions in the heart of the Liverpool defence.”

 

Journalists nonetheless felt Liverpool should have played better and are displaying a worrying “frailty”…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino look dejected as Fulham score the opening goal during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp‘s side missed their chance to not only go top, but “stamp their mark” on the title race, wrote David Lynch for beIN SPORTS:

“With Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham all dropping points over the weekend, this was Liverpool‘s chance to stamp their mark on the title race.”

It was a result and performance which showed that the title race is wide open this season, according to the Mirror‘s Darren Wells:

“Indeed the hosts could well have been out of sight by half-time were it not for Liverpool‘s goalkeeper, and the Reds’ inability to find a winner was another stark reminder that this season’s title race is wide open.”

Delaney thought Scott Parker’s plan – crowding midfield and forcing Liverpool wide – worked well and could have provided a blueprint of how to play against the Reds:

“Parker had come up with a system that was giving Liverpool absolutely no space in the centre, and also forcing them down avenues out wide.”

BBC Sport’s Phil Dawkes was realistic to note that injuries are killing Liverpool, but still thinks there is a “frailty” about the Reds in general this season:

“But there is also a frailty to the Reds this campaign, particularly in games away from home, in which they have now conceded 12 goals – a tally only surpassed by the struggling West Brom and Sheffield United – and failed to win in five.

[…]

“That they did not is down to too many sloppy passes, too much hesitancy in defence and an inability to get the ball to their stellar front three with any accuracy or regularity.”

Doyle believes the Reds’ away form is now becoming a serious issue and bemoaned consistent slow starts as the key problem:

“While Liverpool can boast a perfect Premier League record on their home turf, their ongoing inability to take such level of performance on the road is why they go into Wednesday’s top-of-the-table showdown with Tottenham Hotspur behind the Londoners on goal difference rather than two points ahead.

[…]

“Of course, it doesn’t help that Klopp’s side are gaining an unwanted habit of being slow starters in such fixtures, here grateful for the interventions of the fit-again Alisson Becker that ensured Fulham didn’t have more than a Bobby Decordova-Reid effort to show for their stirring efforts in the opening half-hour.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's Curtis Jones during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Meanwhile, Jones found a positive in Curtis Jones‘ emergence during this period and tipped the talented midfielder to reach “the very top”:

“Klopp at least knows he can count on Curtis Jones, the teenager having been Liverpool’s brightest spark on Sunday. At 19, the young Scouser has the tools to go to the very top.”

 

Members of the media felt a point was far from a terrible result given the context around the game…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mail‘s Ian Ladyman reflected that this wasn’t such a bad result given the performance and a never-ending injury list:

Liverpool, too, will not be overly disappointed.

“Keeping all that in mind, Liverpool may have been happy to get back home undefeated on the day. Given the way Fulham played for the first 40 minutes, the home team could have been two or three goals up.”

Richard Jolly, for The National, thought Liverpool deserved a point for their pressure and determination to force a way back into the game:

Liverpool merited the draw for the pressure they exerted, the possession they had and the performance of Curtis Jones after the break.”

And looking ahead to Wednesday night, Jones says Liverpool face “a hell of a test” against a fully fit, fresh and confident Tottenham side:

“Wednesday should be a hell of a test.

Tottenham may have dropped points themselves on Sunday, throwing away a half-time lead to draw at Crystal Palace, but they will arrive at Anfield confident, with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min ready to expose any frailties Liverpool may have in their backline.”

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