Liverpool – Fulham (Premier League)
Liverpool is facing struggling Fulham at home this weekend. For Brendan Rodgers and his men this looks like the perfect opportunity to bounce back from that weakening loss to Arsenal last Saturday. On the other side everyone is betting on when will Martin Jol’s head roll. Is he still capable of rallying his team up for then fight? I doubt it and so do the Cottagers fans.
The last league fixture exposed some vulnerabilities, yes. So Gerrard is getting old and Liverpool’s midfield struggled throughout the entire game. Since Luis Suárez returned from suspension the SAS partnership was responsible for 10 goals in 4 games. Then Arsenal happen and now Sturridge and Suárez must be eager to show that their first clean sheet was nothing but an anomaly, a momentary lapse. Philippe Coutinho had a 45 minutes come back in that game, after shoulder surgery and six weeks stoppage. The Reds have high expectations for his return to the lineup, they are definitely missing his imaginative and unpredictable passes to feed the attack duo. So, it is time to resume to their steady road, Anfield if you will, and shake off the past experience. For the Merseysiders this season is all about getting a place in the next Champions League. Rodgers said it loud and clear. The critics are shouting that a side that is third on the table, with 20 points in 10 matches, down to second seed Chelsea on goal difference alone should aim a little higher. But securing a top four seat in the 2013/14 Premier League is looking harder by the week. Sounds smart to concentrate on that and grab as many points as you possible can. Anything more than that will be a welcome bonus.
Gerrard had the week to recover from the hip problem that affected him during last fixture’s game. José Enrique is back in training following a three games miss with a knee problem. Aspas and Coates remain long-term casualties.
Probable lineup: Mignolet – Touré, Skrtel, Sakho – Johnson, Henderson, Leiva, Gerrard, Cissokho – Sturridge, Suárez.
Last weekend the Cottagers made it easy for Man United. Twenty-two minutes in to the game the Red Devils were leading 3-0. Were it not for the injuries caused substitutions and that would end up a lot worse for Fulham than a 3-1 loss, that is sure.
Captain Brede Hageland may return, Hugo Rodallega and Mathew Briggs are still out. Defender Sasha Rieter starts a three match ban because of that awful stamp on Adnan Januzaj. Fulham are having a painful run this season that results in six losses out of 10 Premier League games. Just one place above relegation zone. Managers have been sacked for less and Martin Jol’s knows it. Notching a few wins on their belt is the the only way to end the Dutchman’s predicaments and relieve the pressure the team is on right now.
Probable lineup: Stekelenburg – Hughes, Senderos, Amorebieta, Richardson – Sidwell, Parker – Kasami, Berbatov, Kacaniklic – Bent.
Last season thee Cottagers were beaten 4-0 and 1-3 by Liverpool, Daniel Sturridge even made an hat-trick when he visited Craven Cottage. Adding to that, Fulham won only 15.5% of their away fixtures in the Premier League. On the other hand they kept three clean sheets in their last five League visits to Anfield Road. The odds are not good for Jol and his players but when the game stars on Saturday they will have one more chance to prove it wrong. It may be the very last one.