Fulham was the perfect team for Liverpool to meet following their second loss of the season at the hands of Arsenal last weekend. Struggling to find their feet under Martin Jol, the Lilly Whites provided a willing outlet for the Reds to vent their frustrations and record a second successive 4-0 scoreline against Fulham at Anfield.
There were questions regarding how Brendan Rodgers men would react following the setback at the Emirates, and it took less than a half-hour for them to answer. Cottagers defender Fernando Amorebieta headed in an own goal under pressure to open the scoring, Martin Skrtel headed home a Steven Gerrard corner and Luis Suarez notched a brace — one goal on either side of the half — to bring his Premier League tally to eight and round out the score to a nice even number.
If scoring four wasn’t nice enough, keeping our first clean sheet since beating Manchester United on the first of September only made it that much better. Daniel Agger was recalled to the side as Rodgers switched to four at the back. The Dane was making his first start since the tail end of September and he looked hungry to get on the scoresheet when he volleyed a Steven Gerrard corner over the bar in the opening minute — a sure sign of things to come.
Martin Jol set-up a side to frustrate an attacking Reds line-up and things looked to be going to plan when the visitors navigated the opening twenty-minutes without conceding; then, the wheels began to fall off. The Cottagers have won only once in their last 33 visits to Anfield and Fernando Amorebieta’s own goal — misdirecting Steven Gerrard’s free kick under pressure from Luis Suarez and Martin Skrtel — only made a hard task that much harder.
Skrtel, the only central defender to survive the post-Arsenal fallout, doubled the tally three minutes later, with Amorebieta once again culpable, as the Slovak smashed a header past Maarten Stekelenburg from a Gerrard corner. The skipper, derided for long portions of not only the Arsenal match but a bundle of performances prior, was instrumental throughout after recovering from a hip-injury picked up during the dying minutes of the loss at the Emirates.
With the hosts already two to the good, it was time for the Luis Suarez show. Gerrard nutmegged Dimitar Berbatov before feeding Jordan Henderson and the England man — who is making his return to the national set-up for the first time since Euro 2012 — slid the ball through to the Uruguayan with a pass even Philipe Coutinho would be proud of. Suarez, who had a private plane waiting to whisk him off to Turkey after the match, finished emphatically past Stekelenburg with a low shot to make it three before the break.
Former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov cut a forlorn figure up front — as hard as Steve Sidwell and Scott Parker tried, they couldn’t produce a display anywhere close to match Liverpool’s as the hosts began to tighten a noose that was already choking them out. Fulham could manage only four shots to Liverpool’s thirty-two and if not for Stekelenburg, the scoreline could have been downright shameful rather than just plain old embarrassing.
It came as little surprise when Suarez added his second. A flurry of activity early in the half saw both the Uruguayan and Daniel Sturridge go close, but it would be the Reds Number 7 that tied things up with his strike partner in the Golden Boot race when another one of his low shots beat Stekelenburg after Gerrard played provider once again. Where Fulham that bad? Yes. Were Liverpool that good? Also, yes. The Cottagers never looked like providing a response and with Joe Allen finding his way onto the pitch for the Captain, Jose Enrique replacing Cissokho on the hour and Victor Moses giving Sturridge a well deserved break, Rodgers was more than content to sit back and watch his side fizzle this one out over the last half-hour.
We’ve got another international break to stunt our momentum before the Reds next match — their first Merseyside derby of the season — on November 23rd, but we go into it in second place and, as of writing anyways, only two points off the top. Beating up on a dour Fulham doesn’t erase last weekends short-comings, but it does show that we’re developing a ruthless side; winning begets winning and the more we expect to come out of each encounter on top, the better.
How about that? Did you think we’d be in second come November? Or were you one of those eternal optimists that put a punt on us winning the league every August? Let us know what you think in the comments and give us a follow on Twitter and Facebook. You won’t regret it.