Liverpool vs Fulham Preview - Reds must go again to keep faint hopes of top-four alive
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Kevin Friend
Date & Time – Sunday, March 7th @ 14:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 1/3, Draw 17/4, Fulham 8/1
Without hope, there is nothing.
As Liverpool continued to fall into the abyss on Thursday night, it became even clearer how tough the road back is going to be for Jürgen Klopp’s Reds. Even when they have all their first-team players returned from injury, Liverpool are going to be a long way from the ‘Mentality Monsters’ who could beat anyone, and normally did.
The squad’s confidence is decimated. Players are jaded and look to be losing heart. Intensity is clearly waning. And who could blame them?
Take Sadio Mané, for example. Didn’t the Senegal international take his team to the ACON final in the summer of 2019? If memory serves me right, he then enjoyed about a week off before returning to pre-season training and helping lead us to a first league championship for 30 years. Last summer was a write-off because of the COVID-enforced delay to our league-title winning campaign. Therefore, Mané’s last prolonged period of a break – some time to recharge his batteries – was the summer of 2018. So can we blame some players for dropping off a little with their levels of performance? Mane is just the prime example I can think of. The point stands throughout the squad, however. Andy Robertson, Gini Wijnaldum, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold – they have given us more than we could ever ask for. Now let’s get behind them and show some understanding of the situation or, to be more accurate, the shit-show they find themselves in.
In my opinion – and it’s not exactly a hot-take as I’ve seen plenty of people state the same – Klopp needs a break to grieve the loss of his mother at home in Germany. After all, she is the woman who brought him into the universe and helped him on his way to becoming the man he is today.
I’m a realist, though. That’s not going to happen. Either he won’t accept that he needs some time away, or it won’t be offered to him. There’s no room for compassion or empathy in the world of modern football, after all.
It’s now five consecutive home defeats for Liverpool in the league. Chelsea’s victory at Anfield on Thursday night was also a pretty dominant one for The Blues. Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, once again, looked like they were all out of ideas. The Reds have scored one goal in those five Anfield losses, and that was a Mohamed Salah penalty as Manchester City beat us 4-1.
Every time it looks like Liverpool could be about to stop the rot with a good win (3-1 at Spurs, 3-1 at West Ham, 2-0 at Sheffield United), it all comes crashing down again shortly afterwards.
Many fans have said that this season is a write-off for Liverpool now. That may be the case but how important could it be to the not-too-distant future of the club if we miss out on a Champions League spot this season? It’s something I’m trying not to think about too much for now.
Scott Parker deserves immense credit for the gradual improvement we have seen from The Cottagers in recent months. Fulham are trying desperately to claw their way out of the Premier League relegation zone. They are certainly a tougher outfit to beat nowadays. They have lost just twice in their last 9 league games. They won two of those fixtures and drew the other five.
Fulham lost 1-0 at home to Spurs in their last outing on Thursday. They were good value for at least a draw, however. Parker has done some great work at Fulham and they play a nice brand of football. They will certainly be no pushovers for Liverpool on Sunday.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool will be without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joël Matip, and Jordan Henderson.
On Friday, Klopp confirmed that Ozan Kabak is now a slight injury concern ahead of the Fulham game. It’s hoped that Nat Phillips, who was injured during the week, will be fit enough to play alongside Fabinho in central defence on Sunday. New signing Ben Davies may also be an option after recovering from his own recent injury.
Fulham Team News
Fulham are without Tom Cairney as the midfielder is out with a long-term knee injury.
Scott Parker generally sets his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and it should be the same again this weekend.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Fulham XI (4-2-3-1) – Areola; Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Robinson; Reed, Anguissa; Cordova-Reid, Loftus-Cheek, Lookman; Maja
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool drew 1-1 at Craven Cottage earlier this season when a late Mohamed Salah penalty levelled the score after Bobby Reid had given the hosts a first-half lead.
Jürgen Klopp’s men won 2-0 in this fixture the last time the sides met at Anfield back in November 2018, with goals from Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri.
LIVERPOOL 1 – 1 FULHAM
With Fulham looking stronger in recent games and Liverpool’s struggles at home, I find it hard to predict a win for The Reds, no matter how low our opponents sit in the Premier League. We might snatch a win and I think Mohamed Salah will be itching to get back on the scoresheet but I think a draw is a very possible result in this one.