Premier League | Craven Cottage | Wed 12 Feb | 8pm
After the Lord Mayor's show...
Fulham may still be bottom of the Premier League, but they'll see the weekend just gone as a roaring success. Not only did the Cottagers nab a last-minute equaliser at Old Trafford, but the three teams directly above them also all lost.
- Man Utd 2-2 Fulham (Prem)
- Fulham 0-1e Sheffield Utd (FAC)
- Fulham 0-3 So'ton (Prem)
- Swansea 2-0 Fulham (Prem)
- Sheffield Utd 1-1 Fulham (FAC)
- Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal (Prem)
- WBA 1-1 Liverpool (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-0 Everton (Prem)
- Bournemouth 0-2 Liverpool (FAC)
- Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa (Prem)
That draw between Manchester United and Fulham was also something of a boon for Liverpool, who now have a nine-point lead over United in the race for a Champions League berth. That gap had of course initially been widened to 10 when Brendan Rodgers' side hammered Arsenal 5-1 in Saturday's early kick-off.
With 13 games to go, the Anfield outfit are firmly in the box-seat, with Everton five, and Tottenham three (effectively four, given the respective goal differences) points behind.
Yet all that doesn't mean it'll be all smiles when the two teams meet at Craven Cottage on Wednesday evening - the pressure is now very much on both to continue building momentum, as we reach the final third of the season. Although the Reds have given both Arsenal and Everton a thorough paddling, their other recent league games have seen them drop points to Aston Villa and West Brom.
That should give Fulham some confidence of picking up another 'bonus point' in a tough run of fixtures that sees the Cottagers also face Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton in their next seven.
Fulham have a clean bill of health side from new signing Konstantinos Mitroglou, who is yet to get "up to speed with the Premier League" according to Rene Meuelensteen and will not feature.
Liverpool will again be without defenders Glen Johnson (ankle and groin), Daniel Agger (calf), Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) and Jose Enrique (knee). Midfielder Lucas is also sidelined with a knee injury.
Player to watch: Dan Burn (Fulham)
If Fulham are to get anything from Wednesday evening's match, they'll need a resilient defensive performance more akin to their Old Trafford showing than most of their usual standard of the season. Rookie centre back Burn was a key figure in Sunday's rearguard action - making an astonishing 22 clearances over the course of 90 minutes. However, facing Liverpool is an altogether difference proposition - the Reds won't launch endless crosses into the Fulham area, instead preferring to attack centrally and on the deck, although two of their goals on Saturday did come from set-pieces in wide areas. Will the 6ft 7in 21-year-old be up to the challenge presented by Suarez, Sturridge & Co.?
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- L'pool 4-0 Fulham (Prem, Nov 13)
- Fulham 1-3 L'pool (Prem, May 13)
- L'pool 4-0 Fulham (Prem, Dec 12)
- L'pool 0-1 Fulham (Prem, May 12)
- Fulham 1-0 L'pool (Prem, Dec 11)
Meulensteen may well see Rodgers as something of an idol, given the Liverpool manager has made a great success of working his way towards the top of the managerial ladder having initially been on the backroom staff at a big club; Rodgers with youth team, then reserve team coach at Chelsea, while Meulensteen held the same roles - as well as that of assistant manager - during two spells at United.
Having brought in so many players in January, the Dutchman will be aware his new team must gel quickly if he's to avoid relegation and, quite possibly, the sack.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Liverpool have scored in each of their last 15 games – the most in the league.
- Fulham have lost 12 of their last 16 home matches but have scored in 9 of their last 10 home defeats.
- There have been at least 3 goals in 22 of their 31 home games since the start of last season.
- Liverpool’s last 20 games have averaged 4.25 GPG and they’ve kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 11 away matches.
- These are the only 2 teams in the league yet to have a goalless game.
Best Bet: Both Teams To Score @ 1.75
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Perhaps more encouraging signs for Fulham, but more points for Liverpool. 3-1 to the visitors.