Fulham — Liverpool (Premier League)
Fulham and Liverpool’s may be in opposite ends of the table but they’ll meet on Wednesday with a similar frame of mind. Both squads landed remarkable results on the weekend and are now bursting with confidence. Will that be enough for the struggling Cottagers to halt Brendan Rodgers force of nature?
Listening to Rene Meulensteen in the aftermath of the Old Trafford a less attentive bystander could think Fulham had just won the tie. That’s how excited he was. He went so far has to patronize United and David Moyes game and decision making. Truth be told, for the last squad in the Premier League standings to travel to Manchester and share points with the once Red Devils must feel like a huge victory. Steve Sidwell got them ahead scoring in 19’ and it took United roughly an hour to invert the result. And yet the Lilywhites did not cave, on the contrary, they hit back. Their belief and perseverance paid off in a form of Darren Bent’s equalizer on injury time. At Fulham’s scale and circumstance it was kind of epic and such an achievement can go a long way for a team that is fighting for survival. And Meulensteen will be hoping it kick-starts the turn-around they so desperately require. The owners at Craven Cottage came through this January transfer window, providing the means for a hand-full of new signings. That sends a clear message to the locker-room, they believe the season can still be salvaged. Reinforcements Heitinga, William Kvist, Lewis Holtby, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Muamer Tankovic all started last weekend and made a positive impact. I’m sure the manager would love to bring Mitroglou finally in but he’s probably not deemed fit enough to go against such an intense squad as Liverpool.
Fernando Amorebieta and Matthew Briggs are the only ones ruled out.
Probable line-up: Stekelenburg — Riether, Burn, Heitinga, Riise — Kvist — Holtby, Parker, Sidwell, Richardson — Bent.
Let me start by saying the first 20/ 25 minutes of Liverpool against Arsenal were some of the best stretch of football we have seen of late. It was superb to watch. 5-1, all of the Reds goals scored by a player whose name begin with an S and Luis Suárez didn’t score? What were the odds for that? And what about Raheem Sterling? How much he matured and evolved in this few months under Rodgers?
We have seen this before at Anfield. In front of their home crowd the Reds start in an extreme high pace, pressing on the ball really high and if they happen to score watch-out, they’ll railroad the opposition. It being Arsenal only makes it more challenging and fun. They just have all that energy and they run all over the place, harassing and intimidating opponents. However, their away form is a lot less impressive, they were only victorious in 4 of their 12 travels.
Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson are back in training but it’s too soon for them to return just yet. The FA Cup fixture is more likely. Jose Enrique, Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho can make their come-back at the end of the month. Excellent prospects for Brendan Rodgers.
Probable line-up: Mignolet — Flanagan, Skrtel, Touré, Cissokho — Coutinho, Gerrard, Henderson — Sterling, Suárez, Sturridge.
The worst defence — 55 goals conceded— will be against the second best attack (63) of the Premier League. Liverpool also have the stats on their side, they were victorious in 4 of the last 6 times they went against Fulham. The reverse fixture was a 4-0 win for the Reds. Last season their visit to Craven Cottage earned Daniel Sturridge and hat-trick.