John Aldridge: Liverpool were curiously flat and once again, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive abilities found to be lackluster

Okay, we’ll start with the positive.

Liverpool were behind twice and each time fought back to secure a draw.

When Darwin Nunez came again, something special happened. You have to think that he will soon be starting a routine.

And so on for the negative. Liverpool were curiously flat on their season opener.

With Manchester City looking so strong, you can’t miss too many points if you’re going to fight for the Premier League title.

It’s not a good idea to lose the points gap from the championship to one of the previous season’s promoted teams.

God, if Liverpool lose the title by one point again next April, all Liverpool fans will watch this match and say ‘What the hell?’

And once again, sadly, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive abilities were found to be lacking.

Neither player created more goals for Liverpool, but he was badly dismissed for the first goal by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Liverpool fans won’t need to be reminded of their Champions League winning goal for Real Madrid last season.


It was a low ball that went past Trent when he should have been cut out.

This is why Trent doesn’t deserve as many of England’s caps as his pure footballing talent.

England manager Gareth Southgate has made it clear that Kyle Walker, Reece James and even Kieran Trippier enjoy their defensive confidence more than Trent.

So he has to learn a few tricks, like extending his hand over an attacker’s hand, to stop his jump even a little. Or risk a penalty by getting in the way!

Everything just got easier when you’re playing against a 6ft 2in brick outhouse like the gorgeous Mitrovic.

Remember he is Serbia’s center forward, leading them to the World Cup, scoring a goal that almost knocked Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo out of the competition.

He is one of the few players who is good enough to hand a penalty to the best centre-half in the world in Virgil van Dijk. Mitrovic will be one to watch in Qatar.

I will not forgive the other Liverpool full-back for some fault on the first goal.

Andy Robertson should have done a lot better defending that cross.

When you have a goal like Mitrovic in the penalty area, as a full-back you have to fight and fight again to make sure no crosses of that quality come up.

There are days as full-backs when you know the opposition has no mark of the centre-forward, they have little nippy players, who move fast.

However, when a team has a big man, those dangerous crosses have to be stopped.

But it was that kind of game for Liverpool.

Fulham had only two scoring attempts in the match, one of them went in.

Liverpool hit the crossbar twice, a goal was denied for offside and, as they finally got going into the second half, it looked like they would score every time they came forward.

That’s as good as what Fulham will play for a full season – it’s probably as bad as Liverpool defending the entire season. And so you have a 2-2 draw.

Liverpool will not play again until the week of Monday night at Anfield against Crystal Palace.

Hopefully the time has come to bring back some injured players, unfortunately Thiago was added to their numbers in West London.

When you consider that Irish goalkeeper Kaomahin Kelleher is missing, Liverpool actually have an entire team in the treatment room right now.

Eight days into the next game gives Liverpool time to work on some of the defensive things that were bad against Fulham.


And eight days of training and preparation will also go a long way in integrating Darwin Nunez into the start-up.

He made a big impact in the Community Shield against Manchester City last weekend and did it again, being heavily involved in both Liverpool goals.

He would probably claim the first one, but he would not get it, it was his own goal.

One thing I really like about this guy is that he resembles me.

He is a penalty area player, Nunez runs his business in the area 18 yards in front of the goal.

If Liverpool feed him properly, Uruguay will score 30 goals this season. The old Salah-Firmino-Mane trio, which had been good for Liverpool for so long, was broken by Sadio’s summer transfer.

It is now becoming clear to me that Bobby Firmino is no longer a Liverpool starter.

He will come into matches, he will score, but the Brazilian will now have to give way to a first-choice combination of Salah-Nez-Diaz, with Diogo Jota as first deputy when he is fit again.

Jurgen Klopp won’t be too upset by this. He admitted after the match that Liverpool did not deserve to win, even though they could have done so.

I suspect he would be more interested in finding out why the team was so flat in the first 45 minutes, when they were nothing like they could have been.

Resolving that issue will go a long way in getting Liverpool’s season on a stable track.

With 37 games to go in the title race, it’s not time to fret, but after a pre-season in which a lot seemed right, Fulham was a disappointment – no doubt about it.

But a few goals from Darwin Nunez would change all that. It’s time to set him free, Jurgen.