08 December 2006

Liverpool v Fulham 12.9.06

10am. Available in the US live on Setanta Sports.

Liverpool: 5th place; 25 points out of 16 games
Fulham: 13th place; 20 points out of 13 games

Last 4 meetings:
5-1 Liverpool (h) 03.15.06
2-0 Fulham (a) 10.22.05
3-1 Liverpool (h) 02.05.05
4-2 Liverpool (a) 10.16.04

Last 3 games:
Liverpool: 2-3 Galatasaray (a); 4-0 Wigan (a); 0-0 Portsmouth (h)
Fulham: 0-2 Blackburn (a); 2-1 Arsenal (h); 0-1 Reading (h)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt 6; Bellamy 3; Crouch 2; Agger, Alonso, Fowler, Garcia, Gerrard, Gonzalez, Riise 1
Fulham: McBride 4; Bullard, Jensen 2; Bocanegra, Helguson, John, Knight, Radzinski, Volz 1

Referee: Uriah Rennie (get ready for at least one laugher, and hope it goes your way)

Guess at a squad:
Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise
Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Garcia
Kuyt, Bellamy

The four players that stayed home mid-week (Gerrard, Hyypia, Reina, and Finnan) should all come back into the side. Kuyt, who was also rested midweek, and Bellamy, who’s the on-song striker following the last couple of games, will probably play up top. I believe Crouch is still bothered by the back injury that ruled him out at Wigan, but, honestly, despite being the top goalscorer this season with 9 (2 in the league, however, and yes, I know he's featured there far less), I would have imagined Liverpool going for Kuyt/Bellamy here no matter what.

I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of seeing a similar line-up to that which went out at Wigan, though. Carragher again may see time in midfield, keeping out either Pennant or Garcia (more than likely Pennant if it does happen). I’m still of the belief that Liverpool’s played it’s best when it’s lined up (even if only nominally) 4-4-2, especially at Anfield.

Two games ago, Fulham picked up their biggest win of the season, beating Arsenal 2-1 at Craven Cottage. They’ve also been far better on the road this season than last (where they registered only one win), winning at Newcastle and picking up draws at Spurs, Villa, and Pompey. However, the last two times away, they’ve lost at Manchester City and Reading, and have slowly slid down the table following their start to the campaign.

As such, Fulham, like many other teams before them, will probably to Anfield and park the bus in front of the goal. Liverpool must find a way to break down their defense, or it could be a repeat of the Portsmouth game. I don’t think Fulham’s back line is as strong as Pompey’s, or Manchester City’s for that matter, and reckon that Bellamy could cause Ian Pearce and/or Zat Knight a lot of problems with his pace.

Once again, Liverpool’s ability to carve out a goal when the opposition has everyone behind the ball will probably decide whether they take one or three points. They haven’t demonstrated that ability enough this campaign, and it shows in their position in the league. If the ascent up the table is to continue, it’s going to have to happen tomorrow.

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