The FourFourTwo Preview: Liverpool vs Fulham

Premier League | Anfield | Sat 9 Nov | 3pm

Billed as

A banker for your ‘home wins’ accumulator.

The lowdown

Liverpool could have their confidence shaken by defeat to Arsenal, in which they looked second best for nearly the whole game, but they should fancy Fulham.

LIVERPOOL FORM

  • Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool (Prem)
  • Liverpool 4-1 WBA (Prem)
  • Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool (Prem)
  • Liverpool 3-1 Palace (Prem)
  • S'land 1-3 Liverpool (Prem)

FULHAM FORM

  • Fulham 1-3 Man Utd (Prem)
  • Leicester 4-3 Fulham (LC)
  • So'ton 2-0 Fulham (Prem)
  • Palace 1-4 Fulham (Prem)
  • Fulham 1-0 Stoke (Prem)
 

An early hurdle has been jumped: Luis Suarez will play, having had the option to miss this game and join Uruguay ahead of their World Cup qualifying play-off against Katie Price (or Jordan, as the country is now known). He’ll join Cavani & Co. after playing – and, in all likelihood, scoring – against the Cottagers.

Fulham are nearing Wigan-esque levels of unpredictability. In all competitions, a five-game winless streak was followed by three victories in four, then three defeats on the trot. It’s perhaps indicative of a lack of fight in the team; certainly against Manchester United last weekend, they seemed to just want to get the inevitable defeat over and done with. Fulham did keep the score to 3-1 after going 3-0 down within 25 minutes, but thanks in part to United’s half-time subs and lethargic second-half display.
 
At Anfield, Martin Jol’s men must battle and earn a point. Their performance will say much about the team’s character.
 
Oddly, one team has done the double over the other in the past three seasons: Liverpool over Fulham (with ease) in 2012/13, Fulham with a pair of 1-0 wins in 2011/12, and Liverpool with dual victories in 2010/11. So it must be Fulham’s turn to win both games, right? Right?

Team news

Steven Gerrard picked up a hip injury against Arsenal and Glen Johnson was a late withdrawal before that match with some kind of alien possession (depending what you read). He should return for this game, but Gerrard may not. Iago Aspas has a thigh muscle strain, Sebastian Coates’ long-term injury means he’s just behind Alan Hansen in the pecking order and Jose Enrique is unlikely to make it.
 
Well, he’s going to live. He just won’t make it for this game. So Aly Cissokho will need to improve on his performance at the Emirates.
 
Fulham’s Sascha Riether is a naughty man and begins his three-match ban for stamping on ickle Adnan Januzaj. The visitors are also missing Brede Hangeland (leg), Hugo Rodallega (groin) and Matthew Briggs (a left-back and former England youth international who remains the Premier League’s youngest debutant, protects his tweets and currently has a hernia).

Player to watch: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

With Steven Gerrard unlikely to feature, the third midfield spot in Liverpool’s 5-3-2 falls either to Joe Allen – restricted to the bench since returning from injury a few weeks ago – or Philippe Coutinho. Given the opposition, you would assume it’s the latter. This requires Jordan Henderson to move further back from the position he took against Arsenal and instead do his best Gerrard impression, shifting between defence and attack while Coutinho buzzes forward and Lucas tackles (and fouls).
 
Henderson has played every minute in the Premier League this season – OK, every minute of Liverpool’s Premier League season, obviously – in a variety of roles. It’s important he fills this one well. The 23-year-old’s pass completion is generally quite high, but he’ll need to be on his game off the ball, too, playing more as he did against Crystal Palace (7/7 tackles, four clearances, 11 ball recoveries) than he did against Arsenal (3/6 tackles, 1/3 aerial duels, two failed take-ons).
 
Lucas may need to help Henderson and, if possible, stay on the pitch: he’s already served a suspension for amassing yellow cards and, in total, given away 18 fouls in eight games.

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

  • 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) 
  • Fulham 2-5 L'pool (Prem, May 11)

The managers 

Brendan Rodgers has recently played down Liverpool’s chances this season; sensible given Reds supporters’ high expectations, saying that his team has merely “a fighting chance” despite sitting in third place (albeit one point above the evil Everton in seventh). It’s careful psychological management and is unlikely to end here, with Everton the only really difficult opposition over the next five matches.
 
Martin Jol has said he isn’t used to being booed, but has remained bullish over Fulham’s form and whether he’ll be sticking with his defensively shy playmakers. He needs his players to take that stubbornness out onto the pitch.

Facts and figures

  • Liverpool have only conceded 3 goals in 12 Premier League home matches against Fulham.
  • Fulham have kept 3 clean sheets in their last 5 Premier League visits to Anfield.
  • Liverpool have made more errors leading to a goal or attempt than any other side this season (12).
  • Daniel Sturridge has hit the frame of the goal 3 times this season, more than any other Premier League player.
  • Anfield has seen the highest number of headed goals in the Premier League this season (5).
  • No ground has seen more goals in the opening 15 minutes (3) than Anfield this season.
  • This will be the fourth time Liverpool have played at Anfield at 3pm on a Saturday this season, only one short of their total from the whole of 2012/13.
  • Liverpool have won only 3 of their last 7 Saturday league games played at 3pm on Saturday.
  • In the two previous Premier League seasons that Liverpool have recorded a 6-2-2 record after 10 games, they have finished third and fourth (1994/95 and 1995/96).
  • Fulham have won only 15.5% of their Premier League away games. Of teams to play 100+ away games, only Derby (15.0%) have an inferior figure.
  • Liverpool have won 10 of their previous 15 home matches.
  • The Reds have won the first half in 6 of their last 10 home games against bottom-six teams.
  • Since the start of last season, Liverpool have won all of their 13 home games after scoring first.
  • Liverpool have won by 2 or more goals on all but one occasion when Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have started together at Anfield.
  • Fulham have lost by 2 or more goals in 5 of their previous 9 trips to top-six teams.
  • The Cottagers haven't scored a first-half goal in their last 13 trips to top-six sides, trailing at the break on 9 occasions.
  • There have been fewer than 3 goals in 8 of Fulham’s last 10 away games.

FourFourTwo prediction

Simple enough for Rodgers’ men. 3-1.

LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone • Find the best odds with Bet Butler


SHARES
comments