Fulham v Liverpool – EFL Cup Preview
For this cup semi-final second leg, Liverpool will take a 2-1 lead to Craven Cottage, meaning Fulham must win this game to stand any chance of progressing to the final on the 25th February. That contest will be held at Wembley Stadium, which makes this midweek contest an intriguing battle between two sides desperate to advance. No away goals are in effect in this tournament; therefore, a chance of penalties is increased.
On the injury front, Adama Traore is out injured still, whereas Alex Iwobi, Fode Ballo-Toure, and Calvin Bassey, are all away on AFCON duty for their respective countries.
In terms of recent form, Fulham come into this game on the back of a 1-0 away loss, as Chelsea overcame their west London rivals in the Premier League. The 2-1 first leg defeat to Liverpool preceded that game, after a successful 1-0 home win in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, against Rotherham. The Cottages are due to face against Newcastle United this coming Saturday evening, as they attempt to advance beyond the FA Cup 4th round, which makes for a tantalising week of knock out football. This short period is a critical juncture for their manager, Marco Silva, as any hope of silverware this season rests on the results of these next two games. After 21 games played in the English top flight, Fulham sit in 13th position on 24-points. This year’s Premier League safety should not be an issue, as eight points separates themselves from the dreaded relegation places.
Predicted Fulham Starting Eleven
Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the home side, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. A more front footed endeavour will be incorporated for this game, given the need to strike first and create a vibrant atmosphere on home turf.
- GK – Bernd Leno
- RB – Timothy Castagne
- RCB – Tosin Adarabioyo
- LCB – Issa Diop
- LB – Antonee Robinson
- CM – Tom Cairney
- CDM – João Palhinha
- ACM – Andreas Pereira
- RW – Harry Wilson
- CF – Raúl Jiménez
- LW – Willian
In terms of injures, the unavailability of the Spanish pair, Thiago Alcântara and Stefan Bajčetić, will continue for a few more weeks. Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas are nearing first team training, however, Joël Matip has sustained a season ending ACL injury, one that may have seen him play his last game for the club. The Japan captain, Wataru Endō, is still a firm participant in the Asia Cup, whereas the Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah, is due back from the African Cup of Nations, following an untimely hamstring strain. Dominik Szoboszlai has a hamstring injury also, one that will keep him out for another week. The vice-captain, Trent Alexander Arnold, is out with a knee complaint, whilst updates of the injury sustained by Curtis Jones (against Bournemouth on Sunday) are yet to be fully released.
Regarding recent form, the reds produced their most dominant away performance of the season (on Sunday), as a trip to the Vitality Stadium ended in an emphatic 0-4 win. Prior to last midweeks 2-1 win over Fulham (the 1st leg at Anfield), the Premier League leaders recorded an impressive 0-2 win in the FA Cup 3rd round, over a beleaguered Arsenal. After their own 21-games played, Liverpool sits five points clear of the chasing pack, with 48-points taken.
🚨🇪🇬 Mo Salah’s agent Ramy Abbas statement.
“The injury is more serious than first thought. He will be out for 21-28 days”.
“His best chance at participating in the current AFCON is by undergoing intensive rehabilitation in the UK and rejoining the team as soon as he is fit”. pic.twitter.com/thRhcv4AVg
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 22, 2024
Predicted Liverpool Starting Eleven
Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the home side, where the hybrid initiative will probably be abandoned whilst the vice-captain is unavailable.
- GK – Alisson Becker
- RB – Conor Bradley
- RCB – Jarell Quansah
- LCB – Virgil van Dijk
- LB – Joe Gomez
- RCM – Harvey Elliott
- CDM – Alexis Mac Allister
- LCM – Ryan Gravenberch
- RW – Luis Díaz
- CF – Cody Gakpo
- LW – Darwin Núñez
— PGMOL (@FA_PGMOL) January 17, 2024
How Will This Contest Play Out
I believe the Liverpool tails are as up as we have seen them, since the last piece of silverware was lifted. An energy and believe is brimming within the Anfield ranks right now, which should negate the growing list of injuries. Luckily for the reds manager, Jürgen Klopp, most of the absentees are due back in the coming weeks, therefore, a strong line up will be favoured for this second leg.
The key assets in the visiting team will of course need to be at their best, yet I sense a controlled performance and late winner will secure a pathway to the final. The first goal is critical and Raúl Jiménez will need to be well marshalled.
Player to Watch
Player to watch – Jarell Quansah
Steve Smith’s Score Prediction
Fulham 1 – 2 Liverpool