25 January 2011

Liverpool v Fulham 01.26.11

3pm ET, live in the US on FSC

Last four head-to-head:
0-0 (h) 04.11.10
1-3 Fulham (a) 10.31.09
1-0 Liverpool (a) 04.04.09
0-0 (h) 11.22.08

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-0 Wolves (a); 2-2 Everton (h); 1-2 Blackpool (a)
Fulham: 2-0 Stoke (h); 1-1 Wigan (a); 6-2 Peterborough (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Torres 9; Gerrard, Kuyt 4; Maxi 3; Kyrgiakos, Meireles, Ngog 2; Babel, Cole, Johnson, Skrtel 1
Fulham: Dempsey 6; Hangeland 3; Baird, Davies, Dembele, Kamara 2; Etuhu, Gera, Hughes, Johnson, Zamora 1

Referee: Lee Probert

Guess at a line-up:
Reina
Kelly Skrtel Agger Johnson
Meireles Lucas
Kuyt Gerrard Maxi
Torres

This is Liverpool's other game in hand thanks to the winter postponements. Will Gerrard's return from suspension prompt the only change or will Dalglish rest others after three matches in a week?

The need for rotation may be moderated with Liverpool out of the FA Cup; the next match is a week later. Kuyt and Poulsen looked the most fatigued after beating Wolves, and it's safe to assume that Poulsen won't be starting. Home against Fulham is the type of game that frequently leads to calls for Kuyt's omission in favor of a "more attacking" player. Tomorrow could see Cole or possibly Pacheco take his place. Or Johnson could move up to midfield, with Aurelio at left back and Kelly keeping his place.

But after four consecutive matches, Kelly could be another rotation casualty. Honestly, I thought he'd be spelled before this. His performances have made him impossible to drop, relegating England's first-choice right back to the opposite flank, but five games in 17 days is a large ask for a 20-year-old defender with all of 17 total starts. Also, it's been a while since we've seen the supposedly-fit Aurelio.

Fulham currently sit 14th, three points and three places behind Liverpool. The Cottagers are the only side Liverpool haven't faced in the league yet this season. Unbeaten in four since a loss at Tottenham on New Year's Day, Fulham are still struggling to get over the same disease Hodgson left Liverpool with: appalling away form. Fulham are the highest-placed of five sides with only one win on their travels this season, a group that Liverpool escaped with Wednesday's victory. However, Fulham's lone road win came at Stoke in December, a site where Liverpool meekly lost 0-2. And Fulham under Hodgson were difficult opponents at Anfield, with successive 0-0s in the last two visits.

Clint Dempsey's in fine form, having scored both goals in Fulham's last match. Andrew Johnson and Moussa Dembele were both finally fit enough to start against Stoke, adding more firepower to Fulham's meager attack. Bobby Zamora remains a huge miss, still out with the broken leg suffered in September, as is Mark Schwarzer, away at the Asian Cup with Australia. Aaron Hughes and Dickson Etuhu will be late injury decisions. Captain Danny Murphy will assuredly be up for the game: a match against his former club and a chance to avenge Dear Ol' Roy.

Coming off the first win under Dalglish and the first clean sheet in the league since beating Villa at the beginning of December, building momentum is crucial. Liverpool are at home, where – even during such a calamitous season – they've actually won a few games. It's not too late to dig out of this mile-deep hole. Tottenham and fifth place are only nine points away, and two games still constitutes a winning streak.

1 comment:

Gaz Hunt said...

I think Miereles should be in the advanced / behind-the-striker position again.

Let Gerrard drop back to win the ball and distribute - Miereles looked really good there.