Reduce Jurgen Klopp’s choices on his bench and the Liverpool supervisor can nonetheless look a grasp of invention. Three days after the German modified a cup tie in opposition to capital opponents to conjure victory the place defeat beckoned, he did so once more. Two modifications introduced two objectives in three minutes, one other reshuffle main to a different change in fortunes. The supervisor felt the match-winner. It could also be of scant comfort to Fulham that Arsenal know the way they really feel. At least Marco Silva’s facet have a second likelihood. The drawback they could already sense is that Liverpool are the hardest of groups to kill off.
Fulham had been main at Anfield, maybe starting to ponder a primary main trophy of their 145-year historical past, when Klopp summoned the one two senior outfield gamers left at his disposal. Within 20 minutes, Darwin Nunez had twin assists and Cody Gakpo a winner. Protect their benefit at Craven Cottage on 24 January and Wembley beckons, maybe a second Carabao Cup triumph in three seasons.
Once once more, Liverpool may get pleasure from a story of two halves. The tactical modifications got here on the break on the Emirates Stadium and if Klopp injected his facet with much-needed urgency on the interval right here, he delayed a couple of minutes earlier than making a double change. Nunez, together with his penchant for the unpredictable, could also be designed for such conditions. Gakpo, although, was charged with filling what has began to look Liverpool’s drawback place: for the second consecutive sport, Harvey Elliott failed his audition to fill in for Mohamed Salah on the fitting wing. Gakpo got here on and minimize in from a flank he not often occupies to ship probably the most telling contact of the night time.
Fulham, nevertheless, may rue an inadvertent contribution. Silva was sacked by Everton the day after a 5-2 derby shellacking by a weakened Liverpool crew. Anfield nonetheless comprises a cruelty for him and Liverpool’s leveller was facilitated by a slice of luck.
The excellent particular person within the demolition of West Ham within the earlier spherical, Curtis Jones turned rescuer. The Liverpudlian had been one of the best of an undistinguished facet in Liverpool’s disjointed first half. He scored within the second, aided by an enormous deflection. His shot looped up off the again of the defiant Tosin Adarabioyo. Bernd Leno was given no likelihood.
Nunez had discovered Jones. Three minutes later, he picked out Gakpo, with a burst down the left and a low cross that his fellow substitute tucked in on the close to publish. Nunez’s catalytic cameo lacked solely a aim and Leno excelled to disclaim him one, with a hat-trick of stops. He turned a strong header over the bar, repelled a forceful shot and made a point-blank save. He stored Fulham within the tie.
But the night time amounted to one more illustration of Liverpool’s powers of restoration. They have conceded first 15 occasions this season, misplaced solely three. Their victories from shedding positions included Fulham’s earlier go to, when Marco Silva’s facet had been 3-2 up after 86 minutes and nonetheless ended up crushed. In that context, this comeback was timed a bit too early for the complete dramatic impact.
But Liverpool had been with out the orchestrators of that fightback, in Wataru Endo and Trent Alexander-Arnold. The record of absentees is in depth. The shock is that Fulham’s benefit got here partially from a person whose return to Klopp’s ranks was supposed to offer reassurance.
Virgil van Dijk, Klopp had stated, had regarded “like s**t” when sickness prevented him from taking part in at Arsenal. He regarded unhealthy differently on his return in a aim that was doubly chastening.
A decade in the past, Willian scored in a sport notable for an error by a Liverpool captain – Steven Gerrard’s notorious slip that permitted Demba Ba to strike for Chelsea – and he capitalised on the rarity of a mistake by Van Dijk. The Dutchman headed the ball up within the air, Andreas Pereira latched on to it and handed to Willian. As Conor Bradley went to floor too simply, he skipped via to nutmeg Van Dijk together with his shot.
Part footballer, half Duracell bunny, Willian retains on operating. He was terrific and as Fulham exhibited menace on the counter-attack, they may have stretched their lead. Twice Bobby Decordova-Reid was culpable, the associated fee quickly turning into obvious.
But whereas Fulham had been comfy of their lead within the first half, they encountered a distinct Liverpool thereafter. Klopp had two playing cards to play and he performed them properly. But the subs continued a theme. Diogo Jota scored at Burnley on Boxing Day as a substitute, the Portuguese and Gakpo ensured victory at Newcastle after which Klopp’s half-time rejig, plus the late introduction of Conor Bradley and Bobby Clark, had been elements as Arsenal had been eradicated from the FA Cup. Now it was Fulham’s flip to rue Klopp’s intervention. As is turning into a theme, he was the game-changer.