Liverpool’s reward for their 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Tuesday night is a two-legged semi-final against Manchester City in January, with the winners set to face either Crystal Palace or Cardiff at Wembley. Before then we have seven league games (freezing wintery weather permitting) to keep us occupied with the first of these fixtures at Craven Cottage against Martin Jol’s Fulham on Monday night.
Our last trip to the Cottage saw us produce a fantastic display of attacking football as we ran out 5-2 winners and more of the same would do very nicely. The loss of Lucas to a serious knee injury is a big blow to Liverpool and has resulted in the recall of Jonjo Shelvey from his loan spell at Blackpool.
It will be interesting to see who Dalglish and Clarke decide to partner with Adam in centre midfield. The continued absence of Steven Gerrard means it is likely to be one of Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing or the returnee Shelvey. None of the players mentioned can match Lucas in terms of what he brings to the team (although Spearing is probably the most similar in-terms of style, if not of the same quality) so it may mean a change in tactics or formation to find the right balance until the Brazilian returns.
Liverpool’s away Premier League record against Fulham:
• P: 10 W: 6 D: 0 L: 4 F: 19 A: 14 GD: +5 Pts: 18
Liverpool’s overall record against Fulham in the league (including PL stats):
• Total – P: 48 W: 27 D: 13 L: 8 F: 90 A: 46
• Home – P: 24 W: 17 D: 7 L: 0 F: 56 A: 15
• Away – P: 24 W: 10 D: 6 L: 8 F: 34 A: 31
Liverpool’s biggest victories and defeats at Fulham (league):
• Biggest win (overall): 4-2 (16/10/2004)
• Biggest defeat (overall): 3-1 (twice)
• Biggest win (Premier League): 5-2 (9/5/2011)
• Biggest defeat (Premier League): 3-1 (31/10/2009)
Liverpool are unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions and have not lost in the Premier League since the 4-0 reverse at Tottenham on Sep 18. Since that defeat the Reds have played six away games – three in the League Cup, three in the PL – and have won them all, scoring 12 goals and conceding just three times in the process.
Fulham have struggled to find consistency this season and have won just two of their 13 league games, once at Craven Cottage (6-0 v Q.P.R.) and once at the JJB Stadium (2-0 v Wigan). Martin Jol’s side have lost their last two games at the Cottage – 3-1 v Everton and 3-1 v Tottenham – to add to the three consecutive draws they picked up before that hammering of Q.P.R. at the beginning of October.
• Liverpool: 6th – P: 13 W: 6 D: 5 L: 2 F: 17 A: 12 GD: +5 Pts: 23
• Fulham: 15th – P: 13 W: 2 D: 6 L: 5 F: 15 A: 16 GD: -1 Pts: 12
Steven Gerrard (ankle) and Lucas (knee) are Liverpool’s only absentees.
Fulham are definitely missing Zdeněk Grygera (knee) and Simon Davies (knee) and have doubts over Steve Sidwell (hernia), Damien Duff (calf) and Stephen Kelly (groin).
Based on the players listed below, I’d start with the following in a 42121 formation:
Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, Spearing, Henderson, Adam, Kuyt, Maxi, Suarez
I have no in-depth tactical knowledge to back up why I’d play this system (Mihail?) but Spearing and Henderson would offer some protection to our back-line, allowing Adam, Kuyt, Maxi (or Bellamy) and Suarez to do what they do best.
Goalkeepers: Reina, Doni
Defenders: Johnson, Kelly, Carragher, (c) Agger, Skrtel, Coates, Enrique, Aurelio
Midfielders: Shelvey, Adam, Henderson, Maxi, Downing, Spearing
Strikers: Carroll, Suárez, Bellamy, Kuyt
Goalkeepers: Schwarzer, Etheridge
Defenders: Kelly, J.A. Riise, Hangeland, Baird, Senderos, Hughes, Briggs, Halliche
Midfielders: Sidwell, Kasami, Murphy (c), Gecov, Duff, B.H. Riise, Etuhu, Dempsey, Frei
Strikers: Johnson, Sa, Ruiz, Zamora, Dembele
Thanks to Tomkins Times