Another one that got away. I don't think Fulham were better or deserving of a point until Spearing was unfairly sent off. The Cottagers were grasping at straws and only creating on the counter and creating very little on the counter at that. As soon as Spearing went off and they could finally get a foot in in the midfield, that is when they started to come into the game. It shows what a good game he had; kinda like it showed how good Peyton Manning was once he got injured.
It is easy to blame the ref (and I will later), but again Liverpool's biggest opponent is the post/bar and some fantastic saves from an opposing keeper. It seems to be the same old tired routine. More points dropped against lesser opponents (although at least this time it wasn't at Anfield). According to Opta Stats, Liverpool have hit the woodwork 12 times this season, more than any other team in the EPL. Stuart Downing has hit the wood 3 times, more than any player in the EPL. It is depressing to think about, but we are literally inches away from being in second or third place.
I hate that Dempsey is the one who scored too. I'm too pissed to to recap anything else, on to some angry ratings (or rantings as they might be called tonight):
Reina - 7 - He was fantastic, except for one mishap which cost us (yeah, I know how that sounds). It was a difficult ball that dipped away from him right before it got to him, but he still should have had it. Other than that, he was great and commanding.
Enrique - 7 - Not as influential in attack as usual, but still saw a lot of the ball and put some good crosses and passes in. It was a nice volley saved by Schwarzer and he defended solidly again, pretty much shutting down his side of the pitch. Another good outing.
Skrtel - 7 - I thought he was immense, although he was at fault for not tracking the Fulham player's run early in the game which allowed the Fulham player (can't remember who) in one on one with Reina.
Agger - 7 - Good display. Fulham were muted and Dempsey very frustrated until Spearing's sending off.
Johnson - 6 - He did defend fairly well, aside from that slip while defending Murphy. Everyone was slipping and Carroll even had to change his boots early in the game. Perhaps Fulham were trying to slow Suarez by maintaining a crap pitch where he couldn't cut. I don't know. Either way, just an ok game for Johnson. He didn't provide as much attacking threat as he usually does.
Bellamy - 7 - I thought he was quite lively and did well. Good movement, tracked back well. Overall a good game. Perhaps he should be starting alongside Suarez. I did see Riise get a good, hard, illegal tackle in on him. It was nice to see them battle it out without any golf clubs being involved.
Adam - 7 - He and Spearing were in complete control of the midfield. He was ever present in attack and spread the ball well. He also had a few nice shots and opportunities and should have been awarded a penalty. He seems to be coming into his own.
Spearing - 7 - I would have rated him higher if he could have finished the game (although it wasn't his fault). I thought he was very Lucas-esque in the center of the pitch. He won a number of tackles and allowed Fulham no time on the ball or play through the center. He was very unfortunate to be sent of for a great crunching challenge. He will do a decent job of filling Lucas' shoes. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced the FA would overturn this one even though I don't think too many people are convinced it was worthy of a straight red.
Henderson - 6 - He was in and out of the game, but this was definitely a better performance. He did very well to take the acre of space the Fulham defense provided him only to hit it off the post. He was much more noticable and asserted himself on the game with some good moves and passing before he would fade for a few minutes and then come back.
Carroll - 4 - Didn't do a thing, save lolloping about seemingly uninterested in the game of footy being played around him. When he wasn't busy slowly lolloping, he was throwing himself to ground in hopes of winning a free kick. He is one of the biggest men in the EPL. I want to see what he can do if he just fights through all that. He is on a completely different page than the rest of the team. I realize he hasn't had the playing time, but he's not going to get it with performances like these either.
Suarez - 6 - He was always a threat, but seemed to lack his usual cutting edge. That being said, he still terrorized the Fulham defense for 90 minutes. I just don't think that he and Carroll play well together and I am not sure there is any way to fix it. Was unlucky when he bridged Hangeland inside the box and Hangeland made absolutely no attempt to play the ball. I understand you'll never get those, but it was a foul. However, referees don't interpret the rule the way it should be. Here is the rule: An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:
• impedes the progress of an opponent
Downing - 6 - Made Mark Schwarzer pull out a top drawer save to deny Liverpool a share of the points. Not much time on the pitch though.
Kuyt -5 - Not a ton of time, but he did little with the time he had.
Kevin Friend (ref) - 0 -What a horribly inconsistent and incompetent display of refereeing:
-Dempsey likely should have been off. Either way, Bellamy did nothing (for once in his life) to warrant a yellow.
-Obviously Spearing's was a horrible decision. If Suarez had folded like that on a crunching tackle we all know what the papers in Manchester would read in the morning. It was a hard tackle, welcome to the Premier League.
-Senderos' blatant foul from behind which denied a goal scoring opportunity (yes Fulham had a few people back, but not in position) likely should have also been red and a penalty. The rule reads as follows: A penalty kick is awarded if any of the above ten offences is committed by a player inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play. If Senderos was still making contact while Adam was in the box (which I believe he was), then a penalty could and should have been awarded. In other words, it isn't where the foul starts, it's where the foul finishes (although not where the fouled player finishes). One might even be able to make this argument from the red card criteria: denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick. Or this one: serious foul play. It's not like it matters, I believe we are 1 of 4 from the spot this year so the chances of scoring on it are slim. That is also another pathetic stat.
-See Suarez's rating for another crap decision.
I'm likely the only American who doesn't like Dempsey, but I really just don't rate him that highly. I don't like the way he plays for the US (that is, he thinks he is the only person on the pitch), and I think if he was as good as people seem to think he is he would have had other suitors come in for him. I've always found him to be a bit whiny and a downer when things aren't going his way. I'm not just saying that because of tonight, I've said it numerous times before this. If he could learn to be a team player with the US, I might change my tune. I know many of you will disagree with that assessment, but that is how I feel and that is why I was pissed to see him score. I thought he was kept under wraps for the most part until Liverpool were reduced to 10 men.