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Liverpool regain ascendancy at the top of the Premier League table after a 2-0 win against strugglers Fulham at Anfield. 

After a dysfunctional performance against Huddersfield on Monday night, Fulham looked a far more coherent and composed side against Liverpool, and were unfortunate to go a goal down towards the dying embers of the first-half.

Mohamed Salah broke the deadlock after escaping the offside trap from Denis Odoi, tucking cooly past Sergio Rico, though on another day Mitrovic’s goal might have stood – replies did reveal the Serb to be offside, though there remains question marks whether the ball was rolling when Alisson took the subsequent free-kick.

Despite this, Liverpool looked relatively comfortable for the majority of the match and put the game to bed in the second-half after Xherdan Shaqiri netted his second Premier League goal of the season.

It was an improved performance from the Cottagers, but Liverpool ultimately triumphed. So who were the winners and loser?

Winner: Alisson

There was just 14 seconds between Mitrovic’s alleged disallowed goal and Salah’s legitimate finish just on the stroke of half-time, but putting the disputations regarding the goal to one side, the reaction from Alisson in releasing Trent Alexander-Arnold was exactly the reason why Jurgen Klopp brought the Brazilian to Anfield.

There could be arguments over whether the ball was rolling when Alisson released the ball, but either way the goal stood, and it was the shot-stopper’s quick thinking and quick release that started the move.

It was a devastating counter-attacking move synonymous with the type of football Klopp espouses, in just two passes the Reds had shifted the ball from their own penalty area into the final third within mere seconds, and Salah opened the scoring.

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The recruitment of an archetypal modern ‘keeper capable of initiating the first wave of attacks was imperative for Klopp over the summer, and in Alisson, Liverpool have found that man; the 26-year-old looked a composed head between the sticks.

Loser: Jokanovic’s defence

Fulham’s defending has been simply woeful this season, Slavisa Jokanovic just has not been able to put together anything reminiscent of an organised and consistent defensive structure, in fact, such had been their tribulations at the back that only Fulham and Macclesfield have failed to keep a clean sheet out of any of the sides within English football’s top four flights.

It is clearly the club’s Achilles Heel and with Jokanovic tinkering with a number of different formations and personnel at the back, he will need to quickly establish his strongest and most effective defensive unit otherwise Fulham face a season of significant difficulty.

The immediate forecast looks bleak as Fulham have now conceded two or more goals for the tenth time in 12 matches, while they have now conceded 31 goals – the most in the Premier League – and have a goal difference of minus 20.

They remain rooted to the spot but will need to amend their aberrations in defence if they have any aspirations of remaining in the top-flight.

Winner: Xherdan Shaqiri

Jurgen Klopp may now be regretting leaving Shaqiri at home following Liverpool’s midweek capitulation in the Serbian capital such was the pint-sized magician’s brilliance this afternoon, playing a pivotal role in the heart of the Reds’ attack.

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The 27-year-old was central to all attacking moves as Liverpool surged forward with calculated bursts, with the former Stoke man taking more touches than any attacking player on the pitch, making more passes, and playing the second-most key passes.

This was only his third Premier League start, second on home soil, but he may have just staked a claim for a more regular starting berth under Klopp, with Shaqiri also getting his name of the scoresheet, tucking confidently past Rico to put his side two to the good.

The formation today suited Shaqiri down to T, with a 4-2-3-1 giving the Switzerland international license to operate between the midfield double pivot and the attacking trident of Firmino, Salah and Mane, and looked at home playing in that role.

Loser: Fulham’s away record and form

Fulham have now won just once in their last 34 away matches against Liverpool across all competitions, losing 24 and drawing just eight, with that win coming courtesy of a Martin Skrtel own goal in 2012; in fact, prior to that match Fulham had never won in 41 top-flight league visits to Merseyside against either Liverpool or Everton – and they have not won again since.

More recently Fulham have only picked up one point on the road, coming during a 2-2 draw against Brighton earlier on in the campaign, and they remain goalless away from home in their last three matches across all competitions.

Jokanovic knew it would be a tall order for Fulham to stifle Liverpool prior to the match, not least because of the club’s attacking prowess, but considering the fact that Klopp has never lost against a newly promoted side at Anfield, winning eight, scoring 25, and conceding just three times.

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Winner: Andrew Robertson

Robertson continues to go from strength to strength under the tutelage of Klopp, offering a brilliant attacking outlet on the left flank for the club, while also offering a defensive tenacity and resilience that has drawn widespread adulation this season.

His attacking propensity saw the Scotsman provide an assist this afternoon, which now means he has provided more assists across both the Premier League and the Champions League (six) than any other Liverpool player this term.

His delivery today was inch-perfect, an absolute beauty of a cross, and one that any attacking player would thrive on; this time it was Shaqiri who was the lucky recipient of such a delectable delivery, tucking home for the Reds’ second of the match.

Robertson has been one of the major success stories of the Jurgen Klopp era, and has been a revelation since relocating from Hull City; both full-backs turned provider this afternoon, with Alexander-Arnold producing an assist for the first goal, showing just how important even the defenders are for the club’s attacking intentions.

The post Another success for the Shaqiri system: winners & losers from Liverpool 2-0 Fulham appeared first on Squawka News.

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