Liverpool vs. Fulham: Steven Gerrard Returns for the Reds

Jon FeatonbyCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2011

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 01:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool competes for the ball with Mark Davies of Bolton Wanderers during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers at Anfield on January 1, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Liverpool welcome back captain Steven Gerrard for their game against Fulham at Anfield tonight.

Gerrard has missed the last three games after getting sent off against Manchester United in Kenny Dalglish's first game back as manager.

Dalglish will be hoping to build on Saturday's 3-0 win over Wolves, his first since returning to the Anfield hot seat.

Fulham are on their best run of the season, having lost only once in their last five league matches. However, their away form remains a problem—they have won just once in their last 29 league games away from Craven Cottage.

Anfield has not been a happy hunting ground for Fulham in recent years. They are yet to register a win in 29 attempts and have failed to trouble the score sheet on their last four trips.

Conversely, Liverpool have lost just one of their last seven home fixtures, and striker Fernando Torres is starting to regain the form that made him one of the world's most feared goalscorers.

The Spaniard has scored three times since Dalglish took over the reins and appears to be forming a strong partnership with Raul Meireles. Meireles has enjoyed a more central role during Gerrard's suspension and Dalglish will have some tinkering to do when accommodating his skipper.

Jamie Carragher is still missing for Liverpool with a shoulder injury, so the Glen Johnson is likely to continue at left-back in an unchanged back four.

Joe Cole could get a rare start on the left side of midfield, with Christian Poulsen expected to make way for Gerrard. This would make for a very attack-minded formation, with Cole, Meireles and Kuyt all supporting Torres. This would allow Gerrard to play in what many feel is his best role, as a box-to-box centre midfielder making the runs from deep that have made him such a goal-scoring threat over his career.

Fulham could be without Dickson Etuhu, which will be great news for Liverpool. The attack will be led by an improving Andy Johnson, but the main goal-scoring threat comes from Clint Dempsey. The American international has eight league goals this season, one fewer than Torres.

However, with Liverpool coming off a morale-boosting win at the weekend, Torres returning to form and Gerrard returning, the home side should win this one comfortably. Expect to see a stubborn Fulham defense, but Liverpool will run out 3-1 winners.