Fulham vs Liverpool: James Milner penalty and red-hot Sadio Mane put Reds back on top

Milner scored from the spot late as the Reds survived a scare at Craven Cottage

Charlie Bradley
Sunday 17 March 2019 16:55
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hails 'world class' Sadio Mane

Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought win at Fulham.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring in the first half with his 11th goal in 11 games before Ryan Babel equalised against his former club in the second period.

But substitute James Milner climbed off the bench to grab the winner nine minutes from time to win it and help the Reds leapfrog rivals Manchester City at the summit.

Jurgen Klopp's are now two points clear with the champions having a game in hand.

Here's what we learned at Craven Cottage.

1. Sadio Mane- more important than Salah?

As the applause for Mo Salah grew in decibels last season, one man went criminally forgotten. Sadio Mane was Liverpool’s main man in the season before Salah arrived in Merseyside, but the Egyptian’s record breaking season last year meant that the Mane’s 16 league goals didn’t get the appreciation they deserved.

Fast forward to the climax of this season, Salah is still the Reds’ top scorer, but it is his Senegalese counterpart that is producing when it counts. Mane has nine in his last nine league games after his first half strike against Fulham, and it was his double that gave Liverpool victory at the Allianz Arena in midweek. He may have scored less than Salah, but goals of greater importance have come from Mane, who is surely Liverpool’s player of the season.

Mane scored again

2. Fulham should have hired Parker instead of Ranieri

Unfortunately for Fulham, their recent improvement has coincided with a tough run of games. Scott Parker’s first game in charge was rather poetically against Chelsea, and he caused Sarri’s side a great deal of problems going forward, but it was his defence that predictably cost them the game. Their performance today showed similar resolve, but once again the South West London club were just about edged by another of the big six

How different it could have been had they trusted Parker rather than appointing Claudio Ranieri back in November. Now Fulham are all but relegated having spent over £100 million in the summer. Getting out of the Championship after that level of financial irresponsibility will prove difficult.

3. Alexander Arnold the midfielder?

For someone who’s best known for shuttling up and down the touchline, he can’t half pass a ball. On occasions Trent Alexander Arnold has displayed his passing range beautifully. Today, he switched the play from right back out to the left on a couple of occasions and played a delightful lofted through ball to Mo Salah in the first half.

With Liverpool’s midfield good for depth, he may have to wait for an opportunity in the middle of the park, but Alexander Arnold’s passing ability will continue to be an asset for Klopp’s side.

Alexander-Arnold was excellent once more

4. Anguissa is good enough to stay in the Premier League

Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa put in a top performance today. He was solid in front of his back four and was even able to instigate counter attacks. He hasn’t had the sort of game time you’d expect from a £22 million summer signing, but today he may have shown other managers in the league that he could be a useful addition at the top level.

5. Liverpool still have issues away from home

It turns out Virgil van Dijk and Alisson are fallible. It was a mix up between the two that allowed former Red Ryan Babel to tap home. Liverpool may have won today, but it’s their first away win in the league since mid-January, and it came by the skin of their teeth against a side with 17 points all season. If they are to pull it out of the bag and win the league title, they have to be more convincing away from Anfield.

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