Many fans will still be feeling at least a hint of the rage that ensued after the final whistle confirmed Thursday’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, but for Scott Parker and his players, there is no time to dwell on injustices and unclaimed points…
A visit to an out of form Liverpool provides Fulham with an opportunity to claim points that would usually be considered unlikely. However, following positive results at Anfield for the likes of Brighton and West Bromwich Albion, The Whites will head to Merseyside looking to inch closer to the teams above the relegation line. After all, the previous visit to the city saw an unwanted trend broken and a vital three points secured.
The Reds for their part are, as Parker said in his press conference on Friday, a “wounded animal” and despite their apparent lack of form, and clear lack of defensive reinforcements, possess players, at the other end of the pitch with sufficient quality to cause any team problems. That being said, there has likely never been a more opportune time to cause what would still be deemed an upset. The hosts were also on the wrong end of a 1-0 score line on Thursday night, and with a squad that is already stretched, shouldn’t have the advantage of freshness. Despite results not always proving satisfactory for Fulham, performances have been encouraging. The same can not be said of Jurgen Klopp’s charges, losing five of their last six league outings.
There have been opportunities in the previous two fixtures for Fulham to escape the bottom three, but as yet those opportunities have not been taken. With Newcastle United visiting The Hawthorns in the hours before kickoff on Anfield Road, a stalemate in the midlands would probably be preferable. That would mean that even with a win, The Cottagers would remain a solitary point behind Steve Bruce’s seemingly dysfunctional side but confident of seeing more points dropped in the North East before our meeting on the final day. There is every chance that, shorn of their first-choice front three, The Magpie’s are there for the taking, and Sam Allardyce will be relishing the opportunity to attempt to pull The Baggies back into a survival race. If that is to be the case, then any points taken from the current champions will close the gap on 17th.
PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 1-1 FULHAM
PREFERRED LINE-UP: 4-2-3-1
HEAD TO HEAD
LEAGUE RECORD (OVERALL)
- GAMES PLAYED – 57
- FULHAM WINS – 10
- DRAWS – 14
- LIVERPOOL WINS – 33
- GOALS SCORED – 53
- GOALS CONCEDED – 109
LEAGUE RECORD (AWAY)
- GAMES PLAYED – 28
- FULHAM WINS – 1
- DRAWS – 7
- LIVERPOOL WINS – 20
- GOALS SCORED – 16
- GOALS CONCEDED – 66
BIGGEST WINS AT ANFIELD
- LIVERPOOL 10-0 FULHAM (1986/87)
- LIVERPOOL 7-0 FULHAM (1955/56)
- LIVERPOOL 5-0 FULHAM (1993/94)
LAST 5 GAMES
- FULHAM 1-1 LIVERPOOL
- FULHAM 1-2 LIVERPOOL
- LIVERPOOL 2-0 FULHAM
- FULHAM 2-3 LIVERPOOL
- LIVERPOOL 4-0 FULHAM
- LIVERPOOL – LWLLL
- FULHAM – LDWDW
COLLINS JOHN’S VIEW
Another preview, same story! We played well against Spurs in the second half and it was an even contest overall with neither side doing enough to deserve the three points. The decision to disallow the goal was ridiculous but the less we speak about that the better…
Unfortunately we created very little, other than that one chance, and despite looking tidy in possession, our decision making with the final pass or shot has been poor. We are limiting our opportunities to win games because we are only providing our strikers with one half chance in 90 minutes.
In the first half it seemed like we were scared of Spurs’ quality in attack. We showed too much respect to them and allowed the first 45 minutes to be played at their pace. The second half was so much better, but it’s important that we don’t make the same mistake at Anfield. There’s never been a better time to play Liverpool. They are out of form, losing their last 5 home games and have an injury crisis at the back. We have proven time and time again that we are good enough to compete with everyone in this league and if we show the same respect to Mane, Firmino and Salah, we could concede early again. However, if we are brave and try to take advantage of the weaknesses in the Liverpool back line, we might get the rewards our intent deserves. Just like we did at Everton last month.
If I were Scott, I would go back to the back 5 for the next couple of games to protect our goal difference and hit Liverpool on the counter attack. Get 3 midfielders in there who are good runners and play two up top to put their makeshift defence under pressure.
When you compare our fixtures to Newcastle’s over the next 2 games, you’d expect them to nick a couple of points and eventually I think we will need to beat somebody that we aren’t expected to, to ensure we aren’t left behind again. Have we got that big win in us? I hope so but unfortunately I can’t see it coming this weekend.
PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 2-1 FULHAM
BATTLE TO WATCH
MOHAMED SALAH VS ANTONEE ROBINSON
At Craven Cottage, Robinson shackled Salah expertly, matching his impressive pace and providing an attacking threat of his own, particularly in the first half. If Fulham are to have another successful 90 minutes against the reigning champions, Robinson will have to be at his best to keep the Premier Leagues top scorer from adding to his tally of 17 league goals, which incidentally is only four less than the entire Fulham squad.
In the other direction, Salah is unlikely to track Robinson should he foray into Red territory, which could present opportunities to create the attacking overloads that may be needed to score goals. His delivery has not always proven effective, but if he can occupy Trent Alexander-Arnold, it may free up Ademola Lookman to impact the game in ways that he has so often threatened to.
LAST TIME OUT
FULHAM 1-1 LIVERPOOL (13/12/20)
The game at Craven Cottage could be seen as somewhat of a watershed moment in both sides seasons. While the draw was followed by two convincing wins for Liverpool, they soon saw themselves dropping points in unwanted quantities, as their title defence was derailed. There had been waning signs for The Reds already, as evidenced by a draw with Brighton and the infamous loss to Aston Villa. For Fulham the result and performance backed up the win over Leicester and started a run of draws that gave Parker and his team belief that the season wouldn’t descend into total disaster.
Bobby Decordova-Reid’s opener came after a penalty appeal was dismissed by our friends at Stockley Park, and was just reward for the positive approach The Whites implemented. But like on several occasions this season, the attacking efforts brought less reward than necessary to win the game. Liverpool for their part applied pressure in the second half and although Jordan Henderson passed up a presentable opportunity it took a penalty for the visitors to draw level. The Fulham defence has blunted the formidable front three of The Reds already this season, and will need to be on form to do it again.
Liverpool are still without their own first choice centre backs and the pressure The Whites applied in front of the lucky few to attend a live game this season, was nearly enough to earn the three points on that occasion. Add to that the loss of Henderson to yet another injury and Liverpool look even more vulnerable than they did back in December. If Fulham are to pull off the win, there will need to be an improvement in potency. A lack of goals is as much of a problem in March as it was before Christmas, and the main reason that despite losing very few games, the points return has not pulled The White’s clear of the basement battle.
PLAYERS IN COMMON
FULHAM APPEARANCES: 209
LIVERPOOL APPEARANCES: 217
Ryan Babel, Peter Beardsley, Stan Collymore, Lauri Dalla Valle, Steve Finnan, Danny Guthrie, Ray Houghton, Alexander Kacaniklic, Paul Konchesky, Richard Money, Danny Murphy, Sheyi Ojo, Karl Heinz Riedle, John Arne Riise, Tony Warner.