Why on earth would you go for a tackle like that in the area so late on? Gutting doesn’t half describe it. A positive performance shattered by a moment of madness. Having looked all set for a hard earned point, a lapse in concentration leaves you with nothing to show for your guile and effort.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances of defeat, it seems as if a positive theme is starting to take shape, with a gutsy performance full of determination and energy pleasing upon the eye. Following Liverpool’s demolition of Arsenal, it was hard to envisage anything but a comfortable Reds win, particularly after the energy sapping performance of three days previous at Old Trafford.
However, despite popular opinion, we seemed to go straight for Liverpool and took the game to them in the first half. “Parking the bus” didn’t seem to be an option and the away team seemed a bit surprised, finding themselves a bit under the cosh to begin with. Thanks to Kolo Toure’s pressing desire to find himself on the scoresheet, we found ourselves in an unexpected position. What was to unfold was quite a spectacle for the neutral, but a health hazard for fans of both sides.
The wind roaring off the Thames was about as unbearable as Liverpool fans in the home end and didn’t do a lot to calm the nerves. Weirdly enough, it’s a nice feeling to be worrying about holding onto a lead and feeling your sanity descend into category red. This is after months of accepting defeats by big margins and smashing anything and everything around you (two doors have felt the brunt of it all). Whilst in that predicament, dancing with the devil seems like the promised land.
As has been the story of our season, we were in control for large parts of the first half, but completely against the run of play, Liverpool found themselves level. Whilst pressing, dispossession led to an exquisite ball by Steven Gerrard out of nowhere and Sturridge duly obliged with an easy opportunity. At that point, it was easy to forecast Fulham crumbling, as has been the trend this season, but we were to be nicely surprised.
It is clear to see that Meulensteen has brought in a number of players that are willing to fight tooth and nail for our survival, and despite an onslaught from Liverpool at the beginning of the second half, our heads didn’t drop and we managed to find a goal from nothing, which left Suarez looking like someone had released a bad smell around him after going agonizingly close minutes before.
All Fulham fans were certain we would be unable to hold onto a slender lead and were predicting the inevitable complete turnaround by the visitors. Some may call that pessimistic, but when you have seen such events occur more often than screaming obscenities at the TV when Adrian Chiles appears, it becomes part of every day life.
NOur worries were to come to fruition and as our luck has been, a deflected shot and a rash tackle by Sascha Riether completely the predicted turnaround and after Liverpool’s second half showing, it was just about deserved. It did leave the Fulham faithful feeling a little aggrieved and a belief that we deserved to come away from the encounter with nothing to show of it.
Despite a crucial win for the Reds, I still feel talks of winning the title are a little premature, particularly after a run which has seen them drop points to West Brom and Aston Villa. The likelihood of it happening is a possibility, but I can’t see it happening. Top four should still be their priority and securing it would be another step towards reclaiming a spot as one of the most feared sides in not only England, but Europe. Whilst I will get stick for this, being greedy can have repercussions and had Liverpool fans been offered Champions League football at the beginning of the season, not many would have argued against the outcome.
In regards to Fulham, it is nice to see displays which involve high levels of commitment, something which has been non-existent. It is also positive to see that this commitment was not a one off at Old Trafford. However, my worry is that we have churned out many performances which have looked good on the surface, but points are not being won. We can’t keep relying on improved performances to give us hope for survival. Wins are desperately needed, and it’s time to turn these exploits into precious points.
Follow Jaik on Twitter, @jaikbfenton