07 May 2011

Liverpool at Fulham 05.09.11

3pm ET, live in the US on espn2

Last four head-to-head:
1-0 Liverpool (h) 01.26.11
0-0 (h) 04.11.10
1-3 Fulham (a) 10.31.09
1-0 Liverpool (a) 04.04.09

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-0 Newcastle (h); 5-0 Brum (h); 1-1 Arsenal (a)
Fulham: 3-0 Sunderland (a); 3-0 Bolton (h); 1-1 Wolves (a)

Goalscorers (league):
Liverpool: Kuyt 12; Maxi 7; Meireles 5; Gerrard 4; Suarez 3; Carroll, Cole, Johnson, Kyrgiakos, Ngog, Skrtel 2
Fulham: Dempsey 12; Davies, Duff, Hangeland, Zamora 4; Johnson 3; Baird, Dembele, Etuhu, Kamara 2; Gera, Hughes, Kakuta 1

Referee: Lee Mason

Liverpool's "worst" referee, in only his second LFC match this season. The last five with Mason? 1-3 Newcastle (a), 1-1 Stoke (a), 0-2 Pompey (a), 1-3 Fulham (a), 4-0 Burnley (h). Yikes. Howard Webb has nothing on him.

Guess at a line-up:
Flanagan Carragher Skrtel Johnson
Kuyt Lucas Spearing Meireles
Suarez Carroll

I clearly guessed wrong last week: Dalglish stuck with Maxi despite the sentiment over Carroll facing his old club, and Liverpool ended comfortable 3-0 winners. So, will the enormous Geordie return to the starting XI this week?

Not only has Carroll had another week to recuperate, but Liverpool are away from Anfield. Liverpool will undoubtedly have less possession, and Carroll could be a useful outlet. But at the same time, Carroll struggled against center-backs Hughes and Hangeland when Newcastle hosted Fulham in November, battling to a 0-0 draw.

At least we're confident that Johnson is fit again, and will probably keep his place on the left. Last week, Jonas' threat prompted Johnson to spend the second half on the right to far better effect. This week, Fulham will probably play Davies and Dempsey on the wings of a 4-2-3-1, the formation Hughes has used over the last three games. Davies, on Fulham's right, stays far wider than the American, who prefers to cut in, which would suit the above guess at a line-up.

Dalglish also announced that Aurelio and Jovanovic could return., which seemingly means both might be in the squad. I highly doubt either will start given the time they've missed and other players being preferred.

With three games to play, Fulham are currently in the top half of the table in 9th. The Cottagers have won their last two games (and three of the last five) by a 3-0 margin: at home against Bolton and at Sunderland. Midfielders Duff and Gera are both out, but as said above, Dempsey should be available after missing the last match. The American is in superlative form, notching 12 goals this season, now Fulham's all-time leading scorer in the Premiership. Ugly handful Bobby Zamora is also fit after a broken leg, but has almost always featured off the bench since returning in March. Nonetheless, he's got three goals and two assists in his seven appearances since.

Liverpool have been dominant at home – even under Hodgson, even more so under Dalglish – but are still nowhere near the finished article away from Anfield. Dalglish's road record has been a massive improvement, but we've still seen disappointments like 1-3 West Ham and 1-2 West Brom. The latter's more worrying this week; Fulham, even after Hodgson's exit, is still a team in his image. In the last five meetings, Liverpool has narrowly won 1-0 twice (once home, once away), drawn 0-0 twice, and lost 1-3 at Craven Cottage having two men sent off. Lee Mason was the referee in that loss. Lee Mason is also the referee on Monday.

Given recent results, I'm honestly more worried about this than Spurs at Anfield a week later. But all three matches this month are crucial to Liverpool's future, both short and long-term.


NastyNidge said...

As usual a great piece, I've taken to checking your blog everyday, however I do disagree with your last comment. Next to Dalglish's future, a decent recruitment plan and a sound stadium proposal where we finish this year is of little importance.

Neel said...

Interestingly, Man City lost to Everton and Spurs dropped points against Blackpool. A miracle could see us grab 4th place yet.

But yeah Fulham is very very difficult to beat away this season. Aurelio might be tossed into the mix with some kid as sub for when (not if :() he gets injured.

And writing the formation as a 4-4-2 is quite misleading because we don't really play that way even with Luis Carroll.