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Liverpool vs Fulham (Premier League) - 14:00, Sunday 3rd December

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Liverpool vs Fulham

14:00, Sunday 3rd December
Anfield, Liverpool
Premier League
Referee: Stuart Attwell

A busy December begins with Liverpool playing host to Fulham on Sunday, with both sides having secured encouraging results in their first Premier League matches following the final international break of the calendar year. The Reds made the short journey to face recent-era rivals Manchester City last weekend, and returned west with a point following a Trent Alexander-Arnold’s equaliser – the 1-1 draw keeps Jürgen Klopp’s side in touch with the top of the table, just 2 points behind leaders Arsenal. Marco Silva’s side came from behind, lost a lead, and then claimed an injury time winner at home to Wolverhampton Wanderes on Monday – the 3-2 victory moved the Cottagers to 14th, and opened their margin to the bottom three to 10 points. Particularly with these latest results in mind, supporters of both sides can feel they’ve started the season encouragingly – seven rounds of fixtures await during a busy December & festive period, however, and the coming weeks will be pivotal to setting the ultimate aspirations of Liverpool and Fulham for the remainder of the campaign.

Fulham last visited Anfield at the start of May, in a fixture that had been slightly delayed due to the visitors’ participation in the FA Cup Quarter Finals a few weeks prior. Liverpool had gone inbeaten in six matches prior to the meeting, and had claimed four successive victories – their form represented something of a recovery period during what had been a very disappointing season to date, but they still sat 7 points adrift of the top four in 5th. Marco Silva’s side had taken just 6 points from their preceding eight league matches, but they’d come courtesy of wins against relegation-battling Everton and Leeds United – they occupied 10th place, with a 15-point gap to the drop zone guaranteeing them another season on Premier League football. A first-half Mohamed Salah goal from the spot proved to be the only goal of a largely uneventful game on the day – Jürgen Klopp’s side remained unbeaten until the end of the campaign but fell short of the top four, whilst the Cottagers end the season positively (claiming 7 points from their final four, including wins again to-be-relegated Leicester City and Southampton).

Having being promoted to or relegated from the top flight on five occasions in the previous six seasons, Fulham appear the ultimate yo-yo club. Reflecting on their record since securing the [now League One] title in 1999, however, it’s difficult to argue with the suggestion that this is comfortably the most successful period in the club’s history – they’ve spent twenty of the subsequent seasons either in the top flight or being promoted to it, even enjoying a run to the Europa League Final under Roy Hodgson back in 2010. A twenty-four year average position in the league ladder – weighed down by a dismal couple of seasons following their relegation in 2014 – puts them at 17.8, which feels about right. Despite an apparent instability that yo-yoing might suggest, they appear one of a handful of clubs (alongside West Bromwich Albion, Norwich City, and Burnley) who’ve delivered pretty much what’s expected of them over a long period of time, avoiding the boom & bust of the likes of Stoke City, Queens Park Rangers, Hull City, and Huddersfield Town.

Allegations of naivety were put to Fulham during their last couple of appearances in the top flight, as they attempted to maintain the approach that provided success in promotion campaigns in the Championship but in a much tougher top flight. Following promotion under Marco Silva in 2022, they had a much better time of it last season – the season started well (three wins and 11 points from their opening seven matches), and they occupied a very decent 9th place (just 3 points behind Liverpool) by the time the World Cup break came around in mid-November. That break could have proved to be an unwanted disruption to form for a club of Fulham’s stature, but they took four successive victories following the resumption of the league – these wins took them to 6th (with 3 points more than Liverpool) at the midway stage of the season, with their pre-season target if survival all but guaranteed. The aforementioned poor run of spring form (up to & including the trip to Anfield) was likely largely a hangover from Fulham having so comprehensively set about their business last season, but the late season victories against the ultimate bottom four of Everton, Leicester, Leeds, and Southampton, only underlined the good job that Silva’s Fulham did with the campaign, ultimately finishing in an eleven-year best 10th position.

Marco Silva has of course remained at the helm at Craven Cottage into a third season, having delivered exactly what Fulham were looking for following failed attempts in preceding seasons – survival following promotion. Former Wolves forward Raúl Jiménez has effectively replaced long-term Fulham forward Aleksandar Mitrović for this season, whilst Alex Iwobi, Adama Traoré, and Timothy Castagne are the other high profile additions to the squad. Following an opening day victory at Goodison Park, Fulham have been unable to put together any notable run of results this season – they’ve only gone more than a game without defeat on one occasions (following a 1-0 victory over Luton Town with a goalless draw with Crystal Palace). Four wins from thirteen matches is decent for a side who’s priority will once again be to remain in the top flight for next season, though, and a look at their fixtures arguably frames the first third of their season even more positively – they’ve beaten relegation candidates Everton, Luton, and Sheffield United, along with Wolves, and all but one of their defeats (a defeat to Brentford, redeemed by the following week’s draw with Arsenal) appear entirely unremarkable footnotes. Alongside some tougher challenges (matches against Liverpool, Newcastle United, and Arsenal) during the coming weeks, Fulham face Nottingham Forest, West Ham United, Burnley, and Bournemouth before Christmas – it’s the results of matches like these that will determine whether the Cottagers head into the new year preparing for a relegation battle or a more comfortable mid-table finish.

Despite last weekend’s encouraging draw away to Manchester City, injuries to Alisson and Diogo Jota provided a frustrating subtext for Liverpool – both will be out for a number of weeks, joining long-term absentees Andy Robertson, Thiago, and Stefan Bajcetic. The pair will be significant losses for the gruelling December schedule, when triple-points may need to be earned by small margins – the Brazilian ‘keeper is undoubtedly the most reliable last line of defence in world football, whilst the Portuguese forward has a knack of poaching vital goals in tight matches. The last couple of weeks have provided some encouraging signs for the squad though, with Curtis Jones’ return from suspension offering an additional midfield option, Kostas Tzimikas deputising well at left-back, Luis Díaz being amongst the goals for club & country, Darwin Nunez continuing to harass & occupy opponents, and Cody Gakpo netting on a couple of occasions against LASK in midweek. It seems almost a certainty that Mo Salah will score his 200th Liverpool goal during the coming weeks, and Liverpool supporters will hope for a home goal on Sunday as we begin a busy & important month of football.

disgraced cake:
Should be putting these to the sword at Anfield, any win though to continue our push in the league and keep that frightening home record going. All of Fulham's four league victories have been against relegation candidates and after losing Mitrovic they even less potent up front.

Trent   Konate   VVD   Tsimikas
Szoboszlai   Mac Allister   Gravenberch
Salah   Nunez   Diaz

Might have to be a bit of rotation soon but key is putting games to bed early if we can, great chance to do that against your Fulham's and Sheff Utd's of the league. Take your pick at centre half because anybody can play at the minute, Szoboszlai/Mac Allister will be fresh after not featuring midweek too and it only felt like a little run out for all of the forwards really. Just keep the good run going here then on to a couple of aways we have to win if we want to win the title.

what kind of weather is expected tomorrow?  seen reports of a lot of ice and snow in parts of England.

Referee: Stuart Attwell.
Assistants: Richard West, James Mainwaring.
Fourth official: Tim Robinson.
VAR: Paul Tierney.
Assistant VAR: Adam Nunn.

when the hell is Tierney gonna get fucked off?

jesus christ ...


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