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Liverpool looked far from convincing as they snatched a point late on against Fulham in a topsy-turvy 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage.
The hosts came out of the blocks much quicker than their title-chasing opponents and deservedly took the lead through Aleksandar Mitrovic's powerful header on 32 minutes. A flurry of substitutions early in the second half reinvigorated the Reds, who drew level through new boy Darwin Nunez.
Mitrovic put Fulham back in front from the penalty spot with 18 minutes remaining after Virgil van Dijk had him over in the box, before Mohamed Salah – who else – rescued a point in the closing stages. It was a disappointing start to the season for Jurgen Klopp, who got four key things wrong on a discouraging afternoon in west London.
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Arsenal showed last night the effect a new signing can have on a team. So why did Klopp choose to keep Darwin Nunez on the bench until the 50th minute?
The Uruguayan centre-forward has been on fire in pre-season and scored last week against Manchester City in the Community Shield. His omission from the starting line-up confused Liverpool fans on Twitter and Peter Crouch in the BT Sport studio.
Nunez showed what Liverpool were missing once he was introduced, taking just 13 minutes to get on the scoresheet. The Reds lacked a real cutting edge up top in the first half, so it's unclear why Nunez was made to wait for his introduction, which was as spectacular as we imagined when he did finally get on the pitch.
What did you make of Liverpool's performance against Fulham? Let us know in the comments section below.
Granted, Liverpool don't have mountains of options in midfield at the moment. But a midfield three of Fabinho, Thiago and Jordan Henderson against a weak-looking Fulham looked uninspiring from the get-go.
With a combined age of 91, they're not getting any younger. So it was no surprise that the Reds looked invigorated following the second half introduction of Harvey Elliot, who provided the pre-assist for Nunez's goal.
Either Klopp will need to trust his youngsters more in the future, or the German boss needs to dip into the transfer market to give himself more options.
Didn't deal with Palhinha
If Liverpool's midfield was insipid and uninspiring, Fulham's was full of energy and vigour. And that was in no small part down to the influence of Palhinha.
Signed for £20million from Sporting Lisbon in the summer, the 27-year-old ran the show at Craven Cottage, hustling, bustling and generally terrorising his opposite numbers in the middle of the park.
Liverpool failed to get a grip on the Portuguese footballer, who dominated proceedings. One social media used summed it up best, saying: "Palhinha looks like he was held back a year in school and is playing against kids younger than him." Ouch.
There's not a lot Klopp could have done about Alexander-Arnold's defending at the back post for Fulham's first goal. But it's an area both player and manager seriously need to address going forward.
For all of his positive attributes going forward, the Reds right-back needs to be much stronger and authoritative in the air, especially against hardened opponents like Aleksandr Mitrovic.
The Serbian bullied Alexander-Arnold to score the opening goal of the day in a piece of play that will almost certainly be repeated in the not-so-distant future. TAA desperately needs to improve that area of his game, and it's something that Klopp needs to sort out.
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- Liverpool FC
- Premier League
- Fulham FC
- Jurgen Klopp
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