Liverpool 4-0 Fulham – Goodboy Suarez Scored Twice

If Martin Jol is not yet worried about relegation, he should be. He might have more immediate concerns about his job, in point of fact, since this was not the sort of performance any manager under pressure would have wanted to endure going into the international break.

There is no particular shame in losing at Liverpool, especially if you have managed only three goals in 12 Premier League visits to Anfield, but it was the manner in which Fulham crumpled and folded midway through the first half that suggested they are going to find it hard to break out of a downward spiral.

One minute they were just about holding their own, with Dimitar Berbatov even drawing grudging applause from the home supporters (as a former Manchester United player he was booed at the outset) for an inspired crossfield pass followed by a sublime first touch to control a high ball near the touchline.

Then within five or six minutes the visitors were two goals down and the game was gone. There was a slight element of fortune about Liverpool’s first goal, Fernando Amorebieta getting a touch after Daniel Agger’s header to divert Steven Gerrard’s free-kick past his own goalkeeper, although there were no excuses whatsoever for conceding a second four minutes later when Martin Skrtel was allowed a free header at a corner.

Once again the delivery from Gerrard was excellent but Skrtel was in so much space he could hardly miss. As when watching his side concede three goals in 12 minutes against Manchester United last week, Jol must have been struck by the loneliness of his position again.

It appeared Fulham’s defensive organisation had lasted for just a quarter of the match, an impression confirmed when Luis Suárez added a third before half-time, running on to a perceptive through ball from Jordan Henderson and effortlessly finding the target with a shot dinked over Maarten Stekelenburg.

Liverpool fan Mike Myers, of Austin Powers fame, was on the pitch before kick-off waving to the crowd. Liverpool could probably have brought him on for the second half and still won the game quite comfortably. “We could have scored more,” Brendan Rodgers said. “We had 30 shots on goal so we were pretty dominant. I’ve been saying all season that Steven Gerrard’s delivery is as good as it gets, he puts it right on the spot every week, and I just asked the players to be a bit more aggressive in attacking the ball.”

Suárez and Sturridge resumed after the interval by bringing two fine saves in quick succession from Stekelenburg, before Gerrard picked Kieran Richardson’s pocket to send in Suárez for Liverpool’s fourth inside an hour. The England captain burst forward with his trademark determination and once he had won the ball put it in exactly the right place for Suárez to score but, from a Fulham point of view, losing possession on the edge of their own penalty area with such an accomplished goalscorer waiting to take advantage bordered on the criminal.

Not that Suárez spent the game goal-hanging. He could have done and there were times when he and Sturridge versus the Fulham defence looked like a case for the League Against Cruel Sports but, as with Gerrard, the Uruguayan kept popping up in parts of the pitch where he was least expected, several times getting right back to his own goalline to help his defenders. Gerrard had had a hand in all four goals – it was his pass that picked out Henderson for the third – and unsurprisingly received an ovation when he made way for Joe Allen. Glen Johnson was also impressive on his return from illness, although he will not be able to face Richardson every week, and Liverpool’s switch to a flat back four after the defeat at Arsenal worked like a dream. But then it would against Fulham, who barely tested it.

While Liverpool are deservedly up to to second, unless Fulham wake up quite soon there is not going to be a 13th Premier League visit to Anfield next season. And Jol is dreaming if he thinks there are three or four worse sides around.

“There are still a lot of teams we can get results against,” the Fulham manager said, by way of clarification. “We have just been beaten by two top sides, we’ll have to try to fight for points against the Palaces and the Stokes. I think we’ll be fine at the end of the day but in games like this we have to suffer. Three goals down at half-time you would like to stay in the dressing room but you can’t, you have to go out.”

Jol mentioned that his team need to keep fighting, although that implies they have already started, which does not appear to be the case. He also suggested it takes an expert to avoid relegation, and there are not many about. Even if that is true it is not exactly fighting talk. Jol left Anfield looking as defeated as his team.

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