Preview: Liverpool vs Fulham
After suffering defeat at the hands of Red Star Belgrade, Liverpool will be looking to return to winning ways at the weekend in the Premier League.
The Reds welcome the League’s new boys, Fulham, who’re bottom of the table. While on paper, they’re easy opponents, Liverpool will likely approach this one with caution, hopefully having learnt from their mistakes in midweek. In anticipation of the League clash, let’s take a look at the key aspects between both sides.
A Need To Bounce Back
Before the game against Red Star, Liverpool were tipped as heavy favourites to win the tie. After all, they’d beaten the same opponents 4-0 at home, and made it to the Champions League final in the previous campaign. Instead, the fans suffered through an absolute horror show in Serbia. Right from the off, the Reds struggled to pick up any sort of rhythm and looked terribly sluggish. While they did improve slightly after the break, the damage had already been done in the first half.
A frustrated Klopp later said, “There were a lot of moments when we could get in control of the game and we didn’t do it, we made the wrong decisions”. It was probably a fair assessment of what went wrong, and it’s what the Reds need to improve on heading into Sunday’s game. Failure could see the Merseysiders punished yet again, and another probable victory may slip through their grasp.
Many say the hallmark of a good team isn’t just winning matches, but in their ability to bounce back from defeats. Tuesday’s loss might’ve left a bitter taste in the players’ mouths, and they should use it as motivation to win on Sunday.
Splurging over £100 million in the summer, Fulham’s intention to remain in the League was plain for everyone to see. However, after 11 league matches, the Londoners are left propping up the bottom of the table. Their fans would be forgiven for expecting more given that they boast the likes of ex-Chelsea talent Andrè Schürrle, teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon, and midfield maestro Jean Michael Seri.
What makes it even more of a head-scratcher is the problems Fulham have at both ends of the pitch. Away from home, the Cottagers have scored a paltry five goals, averaging just 2.7 shots on target. Against a team that have conceded just one goal in over nine hours of play at home, Fulham are unlikely to improve their goal-scoring ratio, and with them conceding a whopping 2.64 goals per game, it spells trouble for the visiting team.
Needing a response at the weekend, the Reds couldn’t have asked for better opponents in the form of Fulham. However, Klopp isn’t letting his guard down, saying, “If someone goes there and expects an easy game then please stay at home because it will not be [easy], it will be a really tough job to do”. So while it may seem like an easy win on paper, Liverpool have to take care as Fulham are fully capable of hurting them.
Shutting Out Mitrovic
Having been stung twice by Pavkov in Europe, Liverpool have to watch out for another Serbian when Fulham come to visit. With 5 league goals to his name, Mitrovic represents the Cottagers main goal threat.
Aside from scoring, Fulham’s No. 9 is also great at bringing his teammates into play. Winning 5.1 aerial duels per game, Mitrovic excels at holding up the ball and providing layoffs for his fellow attackers. Chipping in with one assist so far, the Serbian has shown just how well rounded he is.
Against a big, strong striker, Klopp would do well by fielding his first choice centre-back pairing this weekend. Rested during midweek, a returning Gomez could aid his colleague van Djik in containing Fulham’s danger man. Blending pace, good positioning, and height, the pair would be ideal against Mitrovic.
For a goal-shy club, Mitrovic’s strikes make up a huge percentage of Fulham’s total tally. His involvement in their build-up play also makes him a key player in their attack. Stop him, and the Cottager’s source of goals would simply dry up. That’s why Gomez and van Djik will have an important role to play at the weekend if Liverpool are to achieve victory against Fulham.
Let’s all hope for a good result and performance to boot so we can forget all about our recent worries.