10am, live in the US on Setanta
Last 4 head-to-head:
2-0 Liverpool (a) 04.19.08
2-0 Liverpool (h) 11.10.07
0-1 Fulham (a) 05.05.07
4-0 Liverpool (h) 12.09.06
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 2-0 Bolton (a); 2-4 Spurs (a); 3-0 West Brom (h)
Fulham: 2-1 Spurs (h); 2-1 Newcastle (h); 0-1 Everton (a)
Liverpool: Kuyt, Torres 5; Gerrard 3; Keane 2; Alonso, Arbeloa, Babel, Carragher, Riera 1
Fulham: Johnson 4; Murphy 2; Davies, Dempsey, Gera, Hangeland, Ki-Hyeon, Zamora 1
Referee: Mark Halsey
Guess at a squad:
Arbeloa Carragher Agger Aurelio
Kuyt Alonso Mascherano Riera
So, with Gerrard ruled out (guess he’s not making it up then, eh Capello?), I’d be very surprised if this wasn’t the line-up. Arbeloa returns from suspension, so that should be the backline, and everyone seemingly came through the internationals okay (with no long trips across the ocean). Maybe there’ll be more changes with the Champions League in mind, but as focus should be on the league and with Liverpool joint top of its CL group, I don’t expect it.
If Gerrard were fit, it’s the old debate between 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2, and whether Keane (who’ll be available after pulling out of the Irish squad) or one of Alonso/Mascherano is left out. But we’ll save that for another day.
Even though I’m not thrilled he played for Spain, Torres couldn’t have had a better night Wednesday on his road to recovery. He didn’t start, but scored as a sub and capped the evening by taking the captain’s armband when Villa went off. All of that should do his confidence a world of good, and it’s nice to see the striker come back from international duty uninjured for once.
Riera and Alonso played the full 90 for Spain, while Arbeloa and Reina also came off the bench. I know it’s a friendly, but Liverpool had five players in the Spanish team, two more than Valencia or Villareal. Insane. Meanwhile, Kuyt also kept up his scoring streak, netting in the 90th minute in Holland’s 3-1 win over Sweden.
Last week, Fulham did what Liverpool’s failed to twice this season – beat Tottenham. Andy Johnson’s (sigh) gotten the better of Liverpool before, and Danny Murphy’s still class, especially on set pieces (as is Jimmy Bullard). They’ve taken 11 points in their last five games, although they’re still not the most dangerous away from Craven Cottage, having scored two goals on their travels this season.
It took until the 81st minute to break Fulham down in last season’s match at Anfield, and it was a long clearance by Reina up to Torres, who had come off the bench to provide his usual moment of brilliance, to do it. Once again, Liverpool will have to be canny enough to break down a dogged side at Anfield. And with all the talk about the importance of the league, even coming off an international break, it’s imperative we see the best out of the team.