Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fulham v Liverpool: The Reds Come to Town

Mark Hughes has told us all season that Fulham is a top 10 club and it hasn't been until two straight convincing 3-0 wins really convinced the fan base that the manager might just be on to something. The team has played really cohesive, flowing football that has been an absolute treat to watch. Furthermore, its offered a small taste of the potential within this team that many, including myself, are hoping blooms big within the next couple years. Zamora has been in tip-top form since coming back from his injury. Davies has shown what he can do in midfield. Dempsey has shown off his work rate on and off the ball and his ability in front of goal. Hangeland and Hughes have proven themselves as a powerful duo in the center of a defense that has let in more goals than only Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City.

Fulham rides this wave of good results back home to face a Liverpool team that has surged since January and is looking to snag 5th place and its corresponding Europa League spot. While the Reds have looked very strong and their new signings, especially Suarez, who has been absolutely brilliant since going to Anfield, have given them a big boost, their away form has not been spotless. In 4 away games since February, Liverpool has only taken 4 points, with the one win coming at slumping Sunderland and losses coming to bottom-table West Ham and West Brom.

Liverpool will be a tough match, but its certainly one that Fulham can take 3 points from. After 9 days off, all the minor injuries ought to be gone and Hangeland and Dempsey ought to be back in the line-up. And, we're going to need both, but Hangeland especially. Suarez and Kuyt have been lethal in front of goal. Suarez's play inside the box has made defenders look silly and has been incredible to watch. The defense will need to be compact enough to give him little space to move about.

Our defense has been excellent all season, but has turned it up a notch further in recent weeks, especially when playing in the banks of the Thames. We just don't seem like conceding here. After beating Liverpool at home last year, only letting in a goal in this season corresponding fixture off of Pantsil, and with Gerrard off the pitch, Liverpool look ripe for being clean-sheeted. It will take a really good effort from the Whites, but we have it in us.

With Dempsey back and Zamora in top form, it would be quite a task to keep us out of goal. I see Fulham taking this mid-week match 2-0.

On a different note, I'm excited to see QPR take the Football League Championship trophy and its more valuable prize, promotion to the Premiership. Doubling the numbers of West London derbies ought to make Fulham football that much more exciting next year.

If you can't tell, I'm really excited about what's in store for the Cottagers next year!

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