How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Fulham

Mark Jones@@Mark_Jones86Featured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

How Liverpool Will Line Up Against Fulham

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    Same again lads? You bet.

    You can be sure that Brendan Rodgers will be hoping that his players put on the same kind of performance that demolished Arsenal on Saturday when they go to Fulham on Wednesday night, and the Liverpool manager is likely to name the same team in an attempt to do just that.

    The Reds were ruthless in beating the Gunners 5-1, but they'll hope that their stunning performance sets the benchmark for the remainder of their season and doesn't just serve as an enthralling highlight.

    It won't be easy for them against a Fulham side who defended resolutely in battling to a draw with Manchester United, but if they play like they did on Saturday then very few teams will be able to live with the Reds.

    Here's how they'll line up at Craven Cottage: 

Goalkeeper: Simon Mignolet

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    Simon Mignolet would have expected to be a lot busier in the Arsenal game, but would still have been disappointed to concede to Mikel Arteta's penalty when his team were 5-0 up.

    The Belgian kept one of the seven clean sheets he's managed this season in Liverpool's dominant 4-0 win over Fulham at Anfield in December, but after the Cottagers managed to score twice at Old Trafford at the weekend, he'll be wary of the attacking prowess that the home side present.

    Given Liverpool's own scoring power though, he'll know that a clean sheet is likely to lead to three points—the Reds are still yet to be involved in a 0-0 draw this season after all.


Defence: Jon Flanagan, Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure, Aly Cissokho

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    We could all be forgiven for thinking that we'd wandered into Martin Skrtel's dreams during the first 10 minutes of the Arsenal win, such was the Slovakian's potency in front of goal and his joyous celebrations that we replicated all around Anfield.

    A tremendous threat in the penalty area, Skrtel scored against Fulham for the second successive season in the 4-0 win over the Whites in December, and he'll be in buoyant mood to do so again.

    Kolo Toure put in a no-nonsense display against the Gunners and could also have found himself on the scoresheet too, whilst Jon Flanagan once again excelled and Aly Cissokho put in a quietly efficient performance that plenty would have been pleased with given his initial problems in a Red shirt.

    With none of his quartet of injured defenders returning just yet, Brendan Rodgers will have no qualms with picking the same back four.

Midfield: Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho

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    Having been outclassed in the defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates in November, Liverpool's midfield reacted and recovered to completely overwhelm the same opponents at Anfield at the weekend.

    Steven Gerrard patrolled matters from his deeper position, Jordan Henderson buzzed around as energetically as always and Philippe Coutinho turned in a stellar display for the second home match running, completely overshadowing some of the more illustrious names lining up against him in yellow.

    Repeating that performance at Fulham will now be on the agenda of the trio, but with each match that they play together they appear to be growing as a unit, with each one acutely aware of their particular jobs.

    Coutinho, who was excellent at Craven Cottage in a 3-1 win towards the back end of last season, will be vital in seeking to break down a Fulham defence which impressed against Manchester United.

Forwards: Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling

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    Comfortably the least heralded of the Liverpool front three, it was nice to see Raheem Sterling jump to the front and centre of supporters' minds in the Arsenal win, and there aren't many wide men in England who are playing better than the 19-year-old right now.

    Throw in the fact that Daniel Sturridge scored against Arsenal too, and also managed his first career hat-trick at Fulham last season, and Luis Suarez goes into this close in the unusual position of being Liverpool's least talked-about attacker.

    The Uruguayan will be seeking to put that right against opponents he scored twice against in December, but Liverpool will settle for the goals coming from anybody in a match they'll be eager to win to get over the disappointment of the draw in their last away match at West Brom.

Ready in Reserve

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    Jordon Ibe made his first Premier League appearance of the season and just his second overall in the final 15 minutes of the Arsenal win, and whilst that was great to see, it was likely just a case of his manager making use of the game's favourable situation.

    He'd like to be able to introduce Ibe if things are going well here too, whilst the likes of Joe Allen, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Martin Kelly are also likely to make their frequent appearances on the bench.

    With the team in such good form, it is difficult for them to break into it. 

How They'll Line Up

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    So it is very much a case of "same again" for Liverpool then, with Brendan Rodgers likely to see no reason to change things from the Arsenal win.

    Sturridge, Gerrard and Suarez were all withdrawn early on Saturday in order to prepare them for this test, which will be a tough one if Fulham show the type of defensive determination they displayed at Old Trafford on Sunday.

    The likes of Steve Sidwell and Lewis Holtby will be seeking to dominate midfield and so Gerrard, Henderson and Coutinho will be crucial again, with support provided by the full-backs another key element of Liverpool's day.

    Ultimately though, if the attack performs like it did against Arsenal, then Fulham could be blown away.