Opposition Focus: Liverpool


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For this weeks Opposition Focus, Matt Wiggins spoke to Henry Jackson from This Is Anfield to get a Liverpool perspective ahead of Sunday’s game at the Cottage…

Fulham vs Liverpool, what comes to mind when you think of this fixture from years gone by?

Two words: Yossi Benayoun.

His last-gasp winner at Craven Cottage in 2009 remains one of my favourite Liverpool goals of all time – at that point, I genuinely thought Liverpool were going to win the Premier League title for the first time.

It was a glorious spring day, the Reds played brilliantly, and having looked like they would somehow not win, they got over the line in the most dramatic fashion.

Maxi Rodriguez’s hat-trick in 2011 was also great, as Liverpool won 5-2 and I saw Luis Suarez in the flesh for the first time. He was a genius.

How special was it to see Liverpool win their first Premier League title last season?

Really, really special. It had been such a long wait, and having been born in the late 80s, I had never witnessed them be crowned English champions before.

They did it in such unstoppable fashion – only two points dropped in their first 27 matches! – and it was a truly great sight to see Jordan Henderson lift the trophy aloft.

It would have been even more perfect to see Liverpool win it in front of fans, but beggars can’t be choosers!

Injuries have been rife this year and have meant some younger players being bought through the ranks. How have they performed so far?

In general, they have been exceptional.

Caoimhin Kelleher has done admirably in the absence of Alisson recently, while the two Williams, Neco and Rhys, have also shone more often than not. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Phillips was Man of the Match in the win over West Ham.

Curtis Jones has been the most impressive youngster, however, slotting into Liverpool’s midfield with such ease. At just 19, he is a really special talent, and to hold his own alongside the likes of Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum is a great effort.

Liverpool sit 2nd only on goal difference. How close will this season be at the top?

I think our injuries have definitely levelled things up in the title race – without sounding arrogant, I think Liverpool would walk it again if everyone was fit. Being without Virgil van Dijk for the whole season is particularly huge.

I expect the eventual champions to get nowhere near the 100-point mark that has become the norm with the Reds and Manchester City in the last three seasons – something like 85 points looks more likely.

City will remain in the hunt, but don’t look overly convincing, while Tottenham and Chelsea look threats at the moment, but I will properly judge them in the New Year. I don’t think they are guaranteed contenders just yet.

Diogo Jota has been one of Liverpool’s most in form players this season, but do you think he’ll be able to find a consistent place in the starting XI?

It’s so hard, because that front-three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have such an incredible understanding with one another.

I think Jurgen Klopp will keep rotating in the coming weeks, so Diogo Jota will get plenty of playing time, and his superb start to life at Liverpool makes him a great option.

He is four or five years younger than the other three, though, so is more of a long-term addition. It is a great selection headache for Klopp to have – he can play all four in some games, too, if he goes with a 4-2-3-1 formation.

There are a number of players to have played for both. Who would you say is the best player to have donned both the black and white of Fulham and the red of Liverpool?

Good question. In my time of watching football, I would have to say John Arne Riise or Danny Murphy, although being brutally honest, both could annoy the hell out of me at times.

They were key players during the early 2000s, though, and did plenty of good things for Liverpool. Murphy scored three winners at Old Trafford, so I will go with him.

In a few years, I hope the answer has changed to Harvey Elliott!

What are your Top 4 and Bottom 3 predictions?

I think Liverpool will retain the title, but far more narrowly this time, followed by City, Chelsea and Spurs, in that order.

Relegated: Sheffield United, West Brom and Fulham (I’m really sorry). Burnley will do enough to stay up, as they always do, and others like Newcastle are already too far clear.

Finally, how do you see the game panning out on Sunday? 

I would be surprised if Liverpool didn’t dominate the game throughout, and I fully expect them to win.

That being said, Liverpool have only won once away in the league this season, surprisingly, albeit after being robbed in the last minute at both Everton and Brighton.

I will say 3-1 to Liverpool, but with Fulham taking a surprise lead.

Thanks to Henry Jackson from This Is Anfield for answering our questions. Check out their match preview here