DOMINIC KING: Draw on the opening day at Fulham ALREADY feels like the end of the world for Jurgen Klopp given the strength of Man City. Liverpool’s mistake over the first fence makes it harder to go the distance

  • A draw against Fulham felt like a loss although Liverpool carved out a comeback
  • The Reds were twice behind in the game but managed to level the score to 2-2
  • But the reaction from the Reds at full-time showed it was a missed opportunity 
  • With City winning and looking strong, it will be hard for Liverpool to catch them 

They have created a culture at Liverpool where draws are compared to defeats and, on the banks of the Thames, you saw this mindset. 

Mo Salah scurried to the dressing room at the final whistle, barely casting a glance towards the away section, Virgil van Dijk was similarly vexed, muttering to himself as the ramifications of the 2-2 draw with Fulham began to sink in.

Jurgen Klopp was not far behind, offering no more than a courteous clap as he made his way to sanctuary. He was calmer than he had been before, having earlier been involved in a frank exchange of views with Alisson and almost combusting when Andy Robertson chose the wrong option.

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool endured a difficult start to the season with a 2-2 draw at Fulham

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool endured a difficult start to the season with a 2-2 draw at Fulham

The Reds players considered the draw like a defeat having already lost ground in the title race

 The Reds players considered the draw like a defeat having already lost ground in the title race


Fulham (4-2-3-1)

Rodak 7; Tete 7, Tosin 7, Ream 7, Robinson 8.5; Reed 7, Palhina 7; Kebano 7.5 (Solomon 66min, 6), Pereira 6 (Cairney 89), De Cordova-Reid 7 (Duffy 90+4); Mitrovic 8. Scorer: Mitrovic 32, 72 (pen). Booked: Tete, De Cordova-Reid. Manager: Marco Silva 7.

Liverpool (4-3-3) 

Alisson 5.5; Alexander-Arnold 6, Matip 6, Van Dijk 5, Robertson 7; Henderson 7.5, Fabinho 6 (Milner 59, 7), Thiago 5 (Elliott 51, 6.5); Salah 6, Firmino 5 (Nunez 51, 8), Diaz 6 (Carvalho 78). Scorers: Nunez 64, Salah 80. Booked: None. Manager: Jurgen Klopp 6.5.

Referee: Andrew Madley 6. Attendance: Not provided.



In the not-too-distant past, a point at a newly-promoted club on the opening day would have been acceptable. Fulham, playing with vigour and endeavour in front of an enthusiastic crowd, were absolutely worth a share of the spoils and could feel a little aggrieved not to have won.

But this is a new world of football where there is no scope for making false steps and the climate is such that anything other than a win feels like the end of the world. To make an analogy, this title race is like the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

They go flat-to-the-boards from the off in that event, barely catching their breath over two miles and 13 fences and rarely do those who make a mistake over the first three obstacles get involved at the finish. If the rhythm is wrong from the start, it is hard to recover.

And how Liverpool’s rhythm was wrong. It all began inside the first minute, when Trent Alexander-Arnold carelessly and casually surrendered possession and gave Aleksandar Mitrovic the invitation to set the tone for Fulham by barrelling into the area.

Mitrovic would go on to score twice and the confidence he took, having only scored three times in his last Premier League season, was evident to all.

‘That’s what it was all about last year and that’s what we’re going to carry on doing,’ said his team-mate, Tim Ream. ‘His first goal was a vintage far-post header, leaping over the full back. You give him an opportunity and he’s going to make the most of it.

‘I’m not sure we expected him to put two away against one of the strongest defences in the league but, as long as he is putting chances in the back of the net, we are going to be all right.’

Darwin Nunez came on and made a goal-scoring impact as he did in the Community Shield

Darwin Nunez came on and made a goal-scoring impact as he did in the Community Shield

Whenever the Serb threatened, Klopp was on his feet with his face scrunched up and his hands on his hips. Part of his assessment afterwards was that the pitch was too dry but, nice headline though it is, the observation should not disguise the fact this was a poor Liverpool performance.

‘We can play a lot better,’ conceded Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who almost came to his team’s rescue with an added-time shot that cracked the crossbar.

‘There are no excuses from us. I felt as though we looked a little bit lethargic at times, we didn’t play the way we normally do.’

It has to be a one-off. There were positives for Klopp — not least the exhilarating substitute performance of Darwin Nunez, who scored one equaliser with an audacious back heel and made the other for Salah — but not enough for him to feel any real comfort.

Mo Salah scored on the opening weekend yet again to rescue a point for Liverpool on Saturday

Mo Salah scored on the opening weekend yet again to rescue a point for Liverpool on Saturday

The reason is clear: a lot was made last season about a title race that went to the wire again and how Liverpool’s failure to win any of their six matches against the other three teams in the top four cost them (they got six points from those encounters compared to the eight of champions Manchester City).

Fulham hitman Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice to stun Liverpool at Craven Cottage

Fulham hitman Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice to stun Liverpool at Craven Cottage

That, however, is a skewed perspective.

Anything can happen in the showdown against the teams around you, what matters is winning the matches you should do. City took 18 points from 18 in six matches against the newly-promoted teams; Liverpool got 16.

So, ultimately, a 3-3 draw at Brentford last September proved decisive. Nobody knew it at the time but, had Liverpool gone on to win that night, they would have been champions come the end of the season. It is why the body language at the final whistle on Saturday was so revealing.

‘There is a lot to work on,’ Henderson said. ‘It is only the first day of the season but we wanted to start a lot better than that. There’s still a long way to go and we need to improve quickly.

‘We’ve got a decent week now to prepare for the next game, so we need to use that as much as we can.’

To go the distance, they have no other option.


DARWIN NUNEZ – Liverpool

A GOAL, an assist and no reason for him to start on the bench again next week. The £64million man was electric at Craven Cottage after replacing Roberto Firmino on 51 minutes. 

He immediately had a shot saved by Marek Rodak, going with a flick when a simple finish may have sufficed. But he was not deterred, trying the same trick on 64 minutes and this time it came off, with a little help from Tosin Adarabioyo. 

And when the Reds needed a saviour again at 2-1 down in the 80th minute, Nunez touched a long ball on for Mo Salah who slotted in.

ERLING HAALAND – Manchester City

NOT to be outdone in the battle of the new big-name centre forwards, City’s £51m Norwegian made every one of his 32 touches count. 

He surprised the West Ham defence with his pace as he nipped in to win a penalty that he then converted, then burst in behind in the second half to make it two from Kevin De Bruyne’s pass. You may see that combination a few more times this season.


THE ‘Medford Messi’ arrived from RB Salzburg with a £25million price tag and no shortage of expectation, but he made an instant impact with his harrying off the ball and skill in possession. 

The only negative for him came by way of the dubious goals panel, who decreed that his winning goal had actually come off Wolves’ Rayan Ait-Nouri.


KOULIBALY took John Terry’s old No 26 shirt and immediately looked at home, strolling to a first clean sheet in English football. 

His tackling was excellent and his passing sound, sending Ben Chilwell clear with an incisive ball that led to Chelsea’s penalty. Keep this up and the Terry comparisons will be bigger than just the number on the back.



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