Fulham v Liverpool – preview
THE REDS travel to West London for tonight’s Premier League tie with Fulham and will be looking for a win to move them up from 7th place in the table.
Two former Reds could make appearances for Fulham this evening – their captain Danny Murphy and recent signing John Arne Riise. Current Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam spoke to Liverpool’s official website about playing against Murphy and suggests he may be a tough opponent tonight: “People still rate Danny quite highly at this club and that’s because he is a top player. Danny is a very, very good player and the two games I played against him for Blackpool last season were probably the two most difficult games I had.” He doesn’t seem to have been asked about John Arne Riise.
If Liverpool win tonight that will be seven away wins in a row in all competitions and would equal the club record. It would also be their fourth consecutive away win the league, something they last did in May 2009. The Reds also go into the game with a run of 11 games unbeaten, the last defeat being away to Spurs in September.
Since being beaten 5-2 by Liverpool, Fulham have only won one of their eight home league games and were beaten by FC Twente, 1-0, in the Europa League last week. They have also managed just two league wins so far this season but victory for Liverpool isn’t a foregone conclusion tonight – Martin Jol’s side got a draw at Arsenal in their last league game and along with Liverpool are one of only two sides to get any points against Manchester City in the league this season.
Currently in 16th place, a win tonight for Fulham would move them up to 13th. Liverpool go into the game in 7th place but would move into 6th with a win – and a 3-0 win would be enough to move into fifth ahead of Arsenal. A draw would see both sides remain in the same position in the table.
That 5-2 win for Liverpool at Craven Cottage last season featured a Maxi Rodriguez hat-trick and Maxi has scored in both of his last two appearances for Liverpool this season, in the league and Carling Cup against Chelsea. Charlie Adam would be happy to see Maxi in the starting line-up tonight: “We were talking about that with Maxi the other day and he’s scored 10 goals in his last nine starts which is fantastic. We’d take another hat-trick from the wee man on Monday if he’s selected, which would be nice. As long as he doesn’t do that dance again though like he did at Chelsea we’ll be happy!”
If Kenny Dalglish gives into temptation we may see Maxi start. The boss said: “I’m tempted to play Maxi in every game. He has a fantastic recent goalscoring record. He is an intelligent footballer and he must have been some player five years ago when he was in his prime. He might be getting a bit towards my age now but he is still a clever player. He knows how to play and he knows how to finish.
“Maxi is someone that you admire. A lot of people can look at him and also learn from him. Maxi and Bellers, along with Carra, are the elder statesmen. The way they look after themselves, the way they train and the way they prepare themselves, they are a great example to everybody. Maxi’s just an intelligent footballer who understands the game on and off the pitch. The same as everybody should do. The squad is more important than the individual.”
With Lucas Leiva out for the rest of the season following his knee injury there’ll be at least one change from the side that drew with Manchester City eight days ago. Jay Spearing is a likely candidate but Kenny may choose to play to the strengths of others in his squad. Steven Gerrard is still making progress with his ankle injury but like Jack Robinson won’t be available for selection tonight.
Kenny said of Lucas’s injury: “It’s a huge disappointment for everybody, but more importantly for Lucas. He’s been playing well for us but it is just part and parcel of football I suppose; we’d rather have him there or thereabouts, but we don’t have him.
“We’ve called Jonjo back from Blackpool just to give us a bit of cover and we’ve got plenty of people in and around the place. We’re not the only club that’s got an injury. We’ve said we’ve got a strong squad and things like this are unfortunately when you get tested. We’ve been happy with the squad, I think the results so far reflect that.”
For Fulham Damien Duff is doubtful due to a calf injury but Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey are expected to be available again, as is Bryan Ruiz.
Liverpool and Fulham have met 20 times in the Premier League, Fulham winning three of those games. One of those Fulham wins was the game that saw Liverpool down to nine men and beaten 3-1 after Degen and Carragher were sent off.
The referee tonight is Kevin Friend of Leicestershire.
UK: Sky Sports.
Kick-off: 8pm GMT
VIDEO PREVIEW FROM THE REDMEN TV:
(As always, viewer discretion is advised – it’s uncensored.)