Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score
Best odds: 3/4
Liverpool are set to welcome Fulham to Anfield on Wednesday evening in what should be an interesting contest, one of the games postponed from round 28 of the Premier League season. Their first clash this season took place in the opening round at Craven Cottage, ending in a 2-2 draw and possibly giving a glimpse of what was about to happen for these teams during the campaign.
Liverpool are, of course, going through an extremely rough season. A year ago, it would’ve been hard to believe that last season’s runners-up in both the Premier League and the Champions League, not to mention the winners of both domestic cups in England, would be here at this point, but there you have it – the Merseysiders are very likely to miss out on the top four and not play Champions League football in 2023/24.
Right now, Liverpool are fifth with 56 points, seven less than Manchester United in fourth place and nine less than Newcastle in third, while United also have a game in hand. With five matches to be played, it’s obviously not over yet, but it’s hard to imagine either United or Newcastle dropping a sufficient number of points between now and the end of the season for the Reds to take advantage.
Nonetheless, Liverpool are currently on a very good run. They haven’t lost any of their last six matches, drawing 0-0 away to Chelsea and 2-2 at home against Arsenal, before going on a four-game winning streak so far. They beat Leeds United 1-6 away, Nottingham Forest 3-2 at home, West Ham 1-2 away, and eventually Tottenham Hotspur at home in an extremely thrilling roller coaster.
Having led 3-0 after 15 the opening 15 minutes, Jurgen Klopp’s team allowed their opponents a way back into the game and after Harry Kane and Son Heung-min reduced their lead, former Everton man Richarlison equalized in the second-half stoppage time, believing his team had pulled off a miracle. However, it would be Diogo Jota with the final word, taking advantage of a huge mistake by Lucas Moura to net a very late winner.
And yet, not everything ended well for Liverpool that evening. Unhappy with a certain decision, Klopp had a fiery exchange with the officials, prompting referee Paul Tierney to book him, and speaking to the press after the final whistle, the German expressed huge dissatisfaction with Tierney’s work, and though he has played the issue down since, the FA have started disciplinary proceedings that could see him handed a touchline ban before the end of the season.
Klopp remains without the services of defender Calvin Ramsay and midfielder Stefan Bajcetic, as well as midfielder Naby Keita and forward Roberto Firmino, while Jota faces a late fitness test due to a minor rib injury.
The latest bit of news came on Tuesday evening and Liverpool fans won’t like it – midfielder Thiago Alcantara has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a hip injury that will require surgery.
Alisson Becker will be in goal, with Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate set to continue in the heart of defence, flanked by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. Captain Jordan Henderson is expected to return to the starting XI, alongside Fabinho and Curtis Jones, though Harvey Elliott will also be hoping for a spot in the middle of the park. Upfront, Cody Gakpo will lead the line, with Mohamed Salah on the right and either Luis Diaz or Darwin Nunez on the left.
Fulham have also had their share of disciplinary issues recently, and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is suspended at the moment, having received a straight red card during their FA Cup clash with Manchester United last month. Manager Marco Silva was also punished, but he has already served his two-game ban and will be in the dugout for his team at Anfield.
The Cottagers have had a fine season for the most part and were even in with a shot of qualifying for Europe, but the four league defeats they suffered since that FA Cup quarterfinal have seen them drop to 10th place with 45 points. Still, they will be pleased with not worrying about Premier League survival through the final stretch of the campaign.
Fulham’s last six run consists of a 2-1 defeat away to Bournemouth, a 0-1 defeat at home against West Ham, a 1-3 victory away to Everton, a 2-1 win at home over Leeds, a 1-0 defeat away to Aston Villa, and a 1-2 home defeat to Manchester City.
Aside from the suspended Mitrovic, Silva won’t be able to call upon attacking midfielder Andreas Pereira, as well as defenders Layvin Kurzawa and Tim Ream. Former Chelsea and Arsenal winger Willian is a doubt at this point, but Silva hasn’t ruled him out completely yet.
With Bernd Leno between the posts, Issa Diop is expected to come into the side to partner Tosin Adarabioyo in the heart of defence, with Kenny Tete and Antonee Robinson on the defensive flanks. Harrison Reed and Joao Palhinha are likely to pair up in the middle of the park. Further up, former Liverpool man Harry Wilson should start on the right wing, with Tom Cairney as the No. 10 and Bobby Decordova-Reid on the left, supporting striker Carlos Vinicius.
Quite apart from being on a better run of form at the moment, Liverpool obviously have more quality in their ranks and boosted by the famous Anfield atmosphere, they should be able to beat Fulham without major difficulties.
One of the greatest qualities of Liverpool’s Mo Salah has been his availability through the years. This season, he started 32 of the 33 Premier League matches his team have played so far and came on as a substitute on the one occasion when he didn’t start. His goalscoring form is picking up at the moment – he netted five times in the last five games, and he’s very likely to get on the scoresheet on Wednesday again.
Verdict: Mohamed Salah to score
Best odds: 3/4
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