Liverpool were awful from the start but improved as the game went on, with sloppy displays mixed with some game-changing cameos in a 2-2 draw at Fulham.
Fulham 2-2 Liverpool
Premier League (1), Craven Cottage
August 6, 2022
Goals: Mitrovic 32′ pen 72′; Nunez 64′, Salah 81′
Alisson – 6 (out of 10)
There was little to suggest that the Brazilian was short of sharpness, with there no fault of his for Aleksandar Mitrovic’s first-half header.
Dived the right way for Mitrovic’s penalty but it was well taken.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
While Liverpool were the aggressors in the Community Shield and their right-back fuelled that front-foot charge, Alexander-Arnold was a meek target as Fulham came out the blocks fast.
Sloppy in possession early on, his positional play allowed the home side to funnel attacks down their left, and it was no surprise as he lost out to Mitrovic for the opener.
To his credit, Alexander-Arnold improved massively as the second half went on, and it was his delivery that allowed Mohamed Salah to make it 2-2.
Joel Matip – 6
Matip showed some invention early on with his trademark dribbles through midfield and was strong in his defensive work, with neither of Liverpool’s centre-backs to blame for a shoddy showing.
Virgil van Dijk – 6
Typically composed and quietly influential at the back, Van Dijk was the least of Liverpool’s problems in the first half and produced some subtle moments of strength and deft positional play that kept Fulham out.
The Dutchman was then dumbfounded by the bullish Mitrovic and conceded a penalty to make it 2-1 – a real blot on his copybook.
Andy Robertson – 6
Robertson was bright and persistent down the left but at times missing the end product needed, as Fulham overloaded the flanks and snuffed out any danger.
Was tidy more than anything as the landscape of the game shifted. A solid afternoon, nothing more.
Fabinho – 4
When he’s off it, he’s really off it.
Jordan Henderson – 5
Over the course of the first half, Henderson produced a display which encapsulated every concern about his input: overly hectic, regularly out of position and, often, simply in the way.
Looks much better suited to the No. 6 role at this stage of his career, having switched there on the hour mark and improved.
Thiago – 5
Though he showed willingness and moments of the quality we cherish, Thiago was bullied out of the first half and, six minutes into the second, then forced off with a hamstring injury.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Peripheral throughout the first half, Salah came into life when Henderson switched to the No. 6 role and Harvey Elliott joined him in the right-hand triangle.
Suddenly, he found himself in yards of space behind Antonee Robinson and could start to attack – within 13 minutes of the change, he laid on an equaliser for Darwin Nunez with a right-footed cross.
Nunez then unwittingly teed Salah up for his customary opening-day goal, the Egyptian doing all he could to salvage a result for Liverpool.
Luis Diaz – 6
The sole spark in the first half, Diaz had the ball in the back of the net once – only to be ruled offside – before hammering the post with his left foot; he resisted dropping to the standards of his team-mates.
Ironically, he grew quieter as the emphasis shifted to Salah on the right and Nunez up front, but it was still a solid display from the No. 23.
Roberto Firmino – 4
Preferred to the still-adjusting Nunez up front, Firmino was hailed as a “baller” by Jurgen Klopp ahead of kickoff.
If there were not seven prior seasons of evidence to support that, that assessment could have been queried after a disjointed showing marred by a consistently poor first touch.
Brought off after 51 minutes, which says it all.
Darwin Nunez (on for Firmino, 51′) – 8 – Man of the Match
What can we say? Two cameos, two goals, two ‘assists’. A really encouraging start.
A game-changer from the bench, his introduction gave Liverpool the vitality they were desperate for. Has to start against Crystal Palace.
He was much needed as Liverpool struggled to impose themselves, and Milner put his stamp on the game with bite and finesse.
Fabio Carvalho (on for Diaz, 78′) – 6
Coming on against his former club may have been daunting for Carvalho, and there was little to mention from the youngster.
Subs not used: Adrian, Gomez, Van den Berg, Chambers, Bajcetic
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Klopp went for the tried-and-trusted from kickoff and had youth and new faces in reserve, with eight first-team absences forcing his hand on day one.
The manager will have been surprised by the lack of urgency from the start, and to his credit, was proactive in his changes early into the second half.
Nunez, Elliott and Milner were all hugely influential in turning the tide, while there were few other options to switch things up late on.