This Wednesday evening sees the Reds welcome Fulham to Anfield, as part of their ultra busy few weeks of the Premier League schedule. I will always remember our opening day fixture, where Liverpool travelled to Craven Cottage for match week one of the 2022/23 season. The hope and expectation that followed the Community Shield victory, was soon marred by a ferocious and front footed display from the newly promoted west London outfit. That game seemed to bring awareness (of our weaknesses) to just about every team we would later meet, thereby managing to have a huge impact on what would later come. This is yet another type of game where Jürgen Klopp will be looking to make amends, after that 1-1 draw in the reverse of this very game.
Fulham come into this game on the back of a 1-2 loss to title chasers, Manchester City. Prior to that, Marco Silva had seen his team lose 1-0 away to in-form Aston Villa, after winning 2-1 at home to struggling Leeds United. With 45 points taken from 33 games played, they can be very happy with their season, especially given the fact that they currently sit one place above their big spending neighbours, Chelsea. The only issue (with this midweek game) may be that with a mid-table finish secured, the fire and desire may have burned out.
In terms of injuries and availability, the Cottagers will be without Andreas Pereira, Tim Ream, Layvin Kurzawa, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Willian Borges Da Silva. With some form of rotation necessary, there will be a few changes from the weekend m.
The starting line-up should see Bernd Leno starting in goal, behind a back four comprising Kenny Tete, Tosin Adarabioyo, Issa Diop, and Antonee Robinson. The ever impressive, João Palhinha, will start in midfield alongside Tom Cairney and Manor Solomon. On the flanks will likely pit Harry Wilson on one side, with Bobby Reid starting on the opposite wing. Carlos Vinícius will continue to take up the sole striker’s position.
Liverpool come into this game on the back of an irregular 4-3 home win against Tottenham, after a 1-2 away win against West Ham. That double win against other London based teams, followed a 3-2 home win against Nottingham Forest, to reaffirm their 5th place in the Premier League table. With Europa League qualification acting as the only viable reward this year, it is certainly tough seeing the Reds with just 56 points from their 33 games played.
In terms of the Liverpool availabilities, Calvin Ramsay, and Stefan Bajčetić are definitely out, whilst Naby Keïta could make the bench. Roberto Firmino is out for an undisclosed period of time, whereas Diogo Jota now appears to have a minor injury that could keep him out till the weekend. With Luis Díaz being eased back into the action, it could open the door for Darwin to make a rare start.
Alisson Becker will resume in goal, with Virgil and Ibrahima Konaté retaining their places in central defence. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold should start at fullback, though Joe Gomez could become a contender to replace the out of form Scot. Jordan Henderson and Thiago may start this game, with Fabinho having started a flurry of games. Curtis Jones will hopefully retain his midfield spot after a lovely run of form. Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo look primed to retain their attacking places, whilst Darwin Núñez and Luis Díaz will be fighting to start on the left wing if Jota is ruled out.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is still suspended for this game, which is a huge shame for the traveling outfit. The last contest between these two saw the Serbia striker have a tremendous game against the Reds, scoring two goals (that day) back in August. Liverpool are looking better than in previous weeks and months, with teams struggling to get to grips with their recent tactical changes. The urgency and vibrant crowd under the Anfield lights should be the difference here, with far too much firepower to see anything other than a comfortable home win.
Player to watch – Cody Gakpo
Liverpool 2 – 0 Fulham