Liverpool will be full of confidence following an impressive win in the Champions League against Bayern Munich. They will be looking to follow that up by keeping their title challenge on track with a victory over Fulham. They will have an opportunity to move back to the top of the table, due to Manchester City playing in the FA Cup and they must take advantage of that. The Reds are now considered the chasers and that could suit them heading into the run-in. Meanwhile, Fulham are 13 points from safety and are facing an impending relegation.
This will be looked back on as a missed opportunity for Fulham. They arrived in the Premier League with a lot of good favour, due to their style of play in the Championship. During the summer, they received a lot of praise for the way they conducted transfer business, but in hindsight, they brought in too many new players and they should have placed more faith in those that secured promotion. It will be a difficult job to rebuild if they are relegated. Scott Parker has a chance to prove that he can be the man to lead that rebuild and a strong performance this weekend would help.
It is shaping up to be the most exciting conclusion of a season for Liverpool during recent years. They are going head-to-head with Manchester City for the title and heading into the quarter-final stages of the Champions League. Jurgen Klopp has done an excellent job of turning the Reds from also-rans to European force and the final step is to win a major trophy. Supporters shouldn’t be overly concerned if it doesn’t happen this season, but it now looks to only be a matter of time before they do clinch one. This weekend poses a tricky test for the team, as they are expected to win. Fulham may be at the bottom of the league, but they have players that can cause Liverpool problems and they need to pay them respect.
Last weekend, Floyd Ayite became only the second player from Togo to score a Premier League goal.
Roberto Firmino has now scored ten or more goals in all four of his Premier League seasons.
Aleksandar Mitrovic has earned a lot of credit for his performances this season and he will be one of the Fulham players to have attracted interest from bigger teams. However, there remains a concern about his ability to be a team player. This is his second full season as a Premier League player and he is facing his second relegation. Rafa Benitez grew frustrated with him at Newcastle and allowed him to leave the club, which surprised many pundits. In hindsight, it appears the Spaniard was correct as he now has a more complete striker in Salomon Rondon, while the player he let go is set to be relegated. There is undoubtedly talent there, but he needs to prove that he can thrive in a winning team. That will be his long term aim, but this weekend, he will be focused on scoring against Liverpool. It will be fascinating to see him go up against Virgil van Dijk in one of the more interesting individual battles on the pitch.
Last season, Mohamed Salah rightly received all of the plaudits for his sensational scoring record. As a result, teams have become warier of the Egyptian and they have marked him out of matches. Although he is being less effective, it has opened up more space for others to exploit and Sadio Mane is one of the main beneficiaries. During the last month, the Senegalese forward has been at his best and has scored six goals in his last four matches. Against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, he was the standout player bagging a brace. This included an excellent piece of skill to open the scoring. Mane now has 16 Premier League goals and he will be desperate to reach the 20 mark. This weekend offers a good opportunity to do that against a poor Fulham defence. There should be goals in this game and it would be a surprise if the former Southampton man isn’t among the scorers.
Andre Schurrle could be back for the home side after recovering from an illness. However, Alfie Mawson remains on the sidelines with injury.
For Liverpool, Jordan Henderson will be missing after being taken off against Bayern Munich with a knock. Naby Keita could be back to feature after his recent injury problems. Fabinho, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum are likely to start in midfield.
On their day, Fulham can cause problems for top-six teams. The showed that against Tottenham on both occasions this season. However, Liverpool’s attack is going to be too much for them to handle. They have shown their defensive vulnerabilities on numerous occasions and they won’t be able to keep the Reds’ attack out. It should be a convincing victory for the visitors.
Fulham 0-3 Liverpool