Fulham make a swift return to the top flight, and their opening game opponents are most certainly a reason why it is the place to be.
The West London outfit eased to automatic promotion last term, ending the year as Championship winners. Marci Silva is doing great things in a post Scotty Parker world, and is definitely well on his way to rebuilding his managerial reputation.
With a busy summer window on going, Silva seems to have varied his targets in recruitment. João Palhinha arrived for £18m, Andreas Pereira for £8.5, Kevin Mbabu for £5m, Bernd Leno for £4m and Manor Solomon has arrived on loan. With that group, they surely still need to address their centre back area, and enable a more solid back line. That defensive line will surely be tested to its limits this Saturday lunch time, as Jürgen Klopp’s trophy hungry team head to the capital.
On the injury front, Joe Bryan, Nathaniel Chalobah & former red Harry Wilson are all ruled out with injury. With Fábio Carvalho now officially a Liverpool player, Silva will be even more reliant on the scoring abilities of Aleksandar Mitrović. With Joäo Palhinha likely to be the creative replacement (for Carvalho), it needs to be a relationship that finds its feet quickly.
With a line up likely to mirror that which ended pre season in a draw with Villarreal (1-1), Fulham may hope to carry their Championship form into the opening stages of the season. How Fulham actually approach this game is curious, with Liverpool always desperate for a more open game.
Liverpool will travel south once more, after their successful Community Shield victory. That result means very little, but the confidence and desire seemed apparent in abundance that day. Jürgen Klopp will roll out much of that starting team, whilst being hopeful that Alisson Becker is able to return in goal.
Liverpool’s summer business saw them recruit Fábio Carvalho for £6m, Calvin Ramsey £4m and more notably, Darwin Núñez for an initial £67m. Given Darwin’s electric substitute appearance last week, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start ahead of the more workmanlike Roberto Firmino. Darwin will offer a more direct threat at goal, and could well be unleashed on game day 1.
The rest of the side will remain as expected, with both sides keen for a solid start. Both managers will be looking at very different seasons, but game day 1 will always offer up one or two surprise results in the Premier League. The dual of the day will probably be that of Joäo Palhinha & Fabinho, with much of Fulham’s attacking threat hinging on that battle.
For Liverpool, they will be hoping a rested, rejuvenated and re-signed Mohamed Salah can explode, and if that were to happen, Fulham could be in for a long 90 minutes.
Player to watch – Darwin Nunez
Fulham 0 – 2 Liverpool