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Liverpool keep title hopes alive

An improved performance, a 3-1 victory, and a desperately needed three points, but for significant parts of this game, Liverpool struggled. Goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Gravenberch, and Diogo Jota may well have kept Jurgen Klopp’s men in the title race, but if they are to win their remaining five games, they have to be a lot sharper all over the pitch.

It was a sumptuous 25-yard free-kick from Trent that put Liverpool ahead. Curled with supreme accuracy into the net, it was a moment of quality that showed just how much he’s been missed. Throughout his 75 minutes, prior to being replaced by Gomez, it was Trent alone who sought out the penetrating forward pass. Elliot, Endo and second-half scorer Gravenberch, lacking the ability to see the game in quite the same way, and who far too often, simply made the wrong decision on the ball.

Yet Liverpool, rather than kick on from going ahead, resorted to the aimlessness and lethargy of recent performances, and it was no surprise when Fulham equalised. Worse, Fulham did little to deserve the equaliser. Rather, it was sloppiness and a lack of purpose from Liverpool that contributed yet again, to their inability to keep a clean sheet. Hesitant defending led to the ball falling inside the penalty box to Castagne, who slotted past Alisson.

There must have been a fear amongst fans, possibly even shared by Klopp, that the lethargy and lack of purpose that’s recently infected Liverpool’s game would be evident once more at the start of the second half. However, despite conceding in first-half injury time, Liverpool stepped it up from the second-half whistle, with Gravenberch restoring his side’s lead before the hour. An awful cross-field ball from firmer toffees Awobi having been cut out before the Dutch midfielder unleashed a shot from twenty yards, that courtesy of the post, found its way into the net.

Being back in front though, did not lessen the anxiety. Thankfully, Jota, who’d not had the best of games, was adjudged onside by VAR, before slotting home with his weaker left foot from an acute angle.

It was only at 3-1 up that the game looked safe, and Klopp thought it prudent to make more changes. Darwin Nunez, Mo Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai were all introduced for the final fifteen minutes. Fulham kept pressing, but it was again Liverpool’s sloppiness that generated the greater threat to their own goal, and Alisson was forced into a smart save after the ball was given away in midfield, for the umpteenth time.

So Liverpool stay in the title race. A further two away games in the space of six days though, will define whether they can take their race for a second Premier League crown into the final weeks. Victory at both Everton and West Ham will be a tall order, and a further improvement in Liverpool’s performance will surely be required to secure maximum points.