History repeated itself at Fulham on Wednesday night as Steven Gerrard's injury-time penalty gave Brendan Rodgers' side the three points in dramatic circumstances—and put Liverpool four points off the top of the Premier League. It's hard to argue that Liverpool, currently, aren't title challengers.
Rodgers' side showed their spirit and character to twice come from behind after more individual errors in defence—one each from Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel had gifted the home side the lead twice.
At times it looked like, after the thrashing of the team who were league leaders on Saturday, it was to be followed up with defeat to the team who were bottom of the league.
After a calamitous performance in the Reds' last away game, Toure struggled again—as did the whole of the Liverpool side in the opening half-hour. The bumpy pitch and swirling wind blowing in off the Thames unsettled Rodgers' side.
The Ivorian, who gifted West Brom their equaliser in the Reds' last away game, turned into his own net in a manner that had you recalling Djimi Traore's calamitous own goal at Burnley.
30 - Liverpool have now made 30 errors directly leading to a goal/shot in the PL this season, more than any other side. Mishap.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 12, 2014
Fulham, to their credit, were much more attacking than at Old Trafford on Sunday, and Darren Bent and Lewis Holtby gave Toure and Skrtel a tough time in the first half.
Liverpool first cancelled out Fulham's lead when Gerrard produced a stunning through ball to release Daniel Sturridge. The Englishman clinically dispatched the chance to become the first Liverpool player to score in seven consecutive Premier League games.
As good a pass as you're likely to see from Gerrard, and a delightful finish by Sturridge, gets Liverpool back on level terms.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) February 12, 2014
Philippe Coutinho, whose shooting from outside the box is arguably the one area he needs to most improve, scored from the edge of the box to pull Rodgers' side level after Skrtel's error allowed Kieran Richardson to poke home from close range.
Richardson's goal had come hugely against the run of play, with Liverpool dominant after half-time and Luis Suarez hitting the post.
Gerrard then played a captain's role by coolly finishing the pressure penalty—it meant a lot and it showed in his celebration. A win here was crucial to keep momentum going.
Return of defence
The imminent return of defenders Mamadou Sakho and Glen Johnson, plus Daniel Agger who was a late sub here, could well be time for Liverpool to finally achieve some defensive stability.
As Rodgers explained in his press conference on Monday, it would be “unprecedented” for a side to go from seventh to first in one season. But similarly, not many rated the Anfield side’s chances of reaching the Champions League final—let alone winning it—in 2005. And we all know what happened there.