Really, this was a big win for the Reds. Isolated defensive errors continue to undermine the club's efforts to crack the Champions League, but few teams can match the weaponry for games of "you score X? Fine, we'll score X+1." This win wasn't pretty, but dropping points here would have taken much of the shine off the club's battering of Arsenal - much like the dropped points against West Brom after Everton. Victory from the jaws of defeat means Liverpool kept a full stride ahead of Tim Sherwood's surging Spurs (whom I'm still not sold on, by the way. Call me back after your Chelsea, Arsenal, Southampton, Liverpool stretch in March and we'll talk.) and just four points from the Premier League summit.
The difference between one and three points in matches like these is the difference between Champions League and Europa League fixtures next fall - it's that simple.
Simon Mignolet - 5
He's not going to dislodge Thibaut Courtois if he keeps up his recent form. The Belgian is an adept shot-stopper, particularly with instinctive reaction saves, but his timidity with balls into the area continues to worry. Does this remind you of anyone? Perhaps the shiny-headed Spaniard plying his trade in Napoli whom Mignolet was supposed to improve upon? Just sayin'.
Jon Flanagan - 5
I'm not going to lie, I've got a soft spot for Flanno. Sometimes you see a young player come up and immediately you know "he's a player." Flanno does not have that effect, but he's been a damn fine addition to a creaky back four - versatile and dependable. This wasn't his best showing - he played a part in the Bad News Bears defending on Fulham's second - but he was reliable in possession and helped provide some width down the right side.
Martin Skrtel - 5
The other half of Fulham's second. He's largely returned to his "Steve Clarke era" form after last season's down year, but his culpability in the goal hurts his mark. Otherwise, he was solid in defending and, with Liverpool pushing for goals all match, got the chance to show off his comfort in possession. He switched play to Teixeira nicely in the build up to the penalty.
Kolo Toure - 1
As I said above, the ratings are a hard, totally objective scientific creation and cannot be disputed. Yet again seeing Toure's "face of disbelief" (#KOLO) was a nightmare we didn't want to relive and made a joke of our Fulham preview. Toure started the season in bright form, but when you combine his slew of individual meltdowns with stats suggesting he's the worst aerial center back in the Premier League, it's a pretty ugly picture.
Aly Cissokho - 5
He was fine defensively I guess, but offers absolutely nothing when Liverpool are in possession. After recently picking up a broken leg, I've noticed that I closely resemble Cissokho with the ball at his feet while I brush my teeth - right leg firmly planted in the ground, left leg helplessly dangling in the air. I wonder if Flanno at left back and Martin Kelly at right would offer more?
Jordan Henderson - 6
Did a lot of the grafting in midfield, his energy was important on a night when the Reds were tired and chasing goals for almost the full 90. Wasn't as dangerous moving forward as he's been other games, but helped the Reds take total control of the midfield in the second half.
Steven Gerrard - 9
An absolutely magical through ball for Sturridge's first half equalizer, putting it on the outside of his boot and having it come down like a feather on a calm afternoon. Toss in his perfectly-placed penalty that won the match, and you get another game-saving performance from Stevie G.
Philippe Coutinho - 7
Pushed forward more than in recent matches, something which makes sense considering the circumstances. Didn't quite set the table as we know he can, but he bagged the (deflected) equalizer late on. A goal is a goal is a goal.
Luis Suarez - 7
Didn't get a goal nor an assist, which is remarkable considering his performances this year. That said, he probably best epitomized Liverpool's bad luck for much of the match. Went close on several occasions, and his smack off the post before Fulham's second seemed to harbor a bad London night for the Reds. They pulled it out, of course, and I liked seeing Suarez rally the troops after Coutinho's goal - stop celebrating, we have three points to win.
Raheem Sterling - 6
Can't blame Sterling for tiring as the match went on. There wasn't a whole lot of space for him to run into and Fulham essentially play with full backs and wing backs in front of them. That said, he offered a threat with his movement in the first half and the truth is he probably would have been given a breather out if Rodgers had anyone to replace him.
Daniel Sturridge - 8
A goal off the post and won the penalty from Riether at the end. A true striker gets goals even on an off-night and the Reds owe Sturridge for pushing them through this one. You knew he was going to bury Gerrard's through ball as soon as he gathered possession and he offered a threat on several other occasions.
Daniel Agger - 10
Knocked out some clearances as Fulham went Route One at the end. His perfect score comes not from tonight, but from his impending displacement of Toure alongside Skrtel (here's the science again). I'd imagine he gets a start, probably the full 90, in the FA Cup on the weekend.
Joao Teixeira - 7
A seven you say? Well, he gets a hockey assist for the winner - played the ball into Sturridge who won the penalty which Gerrard converted. Did a decent job defending at the end, though his insistence in trying to spring Suarez on the counter got him an earful from the Captain. Enthusiasm at least.
I will say, Teixeira's arrival in the first team says a lot about how Rodgers views his attacking options. That the Portuguese midfielder kicked Luis Alberto out of the 18 and came on instead of Victor Moses is a damning indictment of the two.
Good to see him progress though, hopefully they're working on extending his contract which expires in the summer.