Liverpool vs. Fulham features two teams that are having seasons to forget.
But tied at five wins apiece, a tiny boost in the English Premier League standings is at stake. Of course, while neither is a juggernaut this year, the whole Clint Dempsey drama that went down between the two is enough to make this match interesting.
Here’s everything you need to know about the showdown between the Reds and the Whites.
Where: Anfield, England
Watch: Watch ESPN (subscription needed)
When: Thursday, December 20 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Most Important Player to Watch: Luis Suarez
Suarez is Liverpool’s offense.
He’s already scored 10 goals this season, which is the fourth-highest total in the EPL. No other Reds footballer has scored more than two.
None of the Whites have more than five goals this season. Fulham’s scoring effort is more balanced, though, between the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Mladen Petric, Steve Sidwell and Damien Duff so no single Cottage scorer approaches Suarez’s value.
Key Matchup: Pepe Reina vs. Dimitar Berbatov
If there is one Fulham player who’ll match Suarez’s offensive output, it’s Berbatov. He’s tied for the team-lead in goals scored with five and is also third on the club in assists.
Reina has struggled mightily in 2012. Orbinho put his season in perspective with this stat.
Pepe Reina has saved just 59.6% of shots on target this season, the lowest percentage of the regular goalkeepers in the PL.— Orbinho (@Orbinho) December 19, 2012
Knowing that, Berbatov should see several scoring opportunities on the afternoon.
What They’re Saying
Liverpool’s official website reported that midfielder Lucas Leiva plans on playing for the fans against Fulham.
We owe our fans a good performance against Fulham and hopefully the three points. They deserve a good performance and the win because they have seen some difficult moments but they have always been there supporting us. It's up to the team now to reward them with a good win.
Riath Al-Samarrai of the Daily Mail reported that Martin Jol also isn't pleased with his club's play of late.
I am worried, it’s a worry. It’s always a worry when you are in the bottom nine or 10. I told you at the start of the season that there would be 11 or 12 clubs fighting to get out of this situation. We had a good start and are two points ahead of our points tally from last year but we need points and we need players so hopefully next week our better players, like Bryan Ruiz and Diarra, are back.
Prediction: 2-1 Liverpool
The Reds are at home. Multiple players, including Nuri Sahin and Jose Enrique, will also return to the field against Fulham. And they’re fired up after their loss to Aston Villa.
Liverpool should bounce back on Thursday.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.