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Saturday Fulham Stuff (03/112/11)...

Started by WhiteJC, December 03, 2011, 08:12:04 AM

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Squad sheets: Fulham v Liverpool

Mixed emotions will accompany Liverpool on their annual trip to the Thames. The squad will reflect fondly on how they beat the hosts 5-2 in this fixture last season with a breathless and, at times, awesome, attacking display, but there will also be sadness at the recent loss of Lucas Leiva to a season-ending knee injury. The Brazil midfielder has become an integral part of Kenny Dalglish's side and without him they may struggle significantly. Fulham, buoyed by last week's draw at Arsenal, will aim to test the visitors' resolve. Sachin Nakrani

Venue Craven Cottage

Tickets Sold out

Last season Fulham 2 Liverpool 5

Referee K Friend

This season's matches 7 Y31, R0, 4.43 cards per game

Odds Fulham 12-5 Liverpool 11-10 Draw 23-10

Fulham v Liverpool: Probable starters in bold, contenders in light. Photograph: Graphic


Subs from Etheridge, Somogyi, Kasami, Ruiz, Gecov, Sidwell, Johnson, Frei, Burn, Kacaniklic, Marsh-Brown, Tankovic, Davies Doubtful Duff (calf)

Injured Kelly (groin, 5 Dec), Senderos (thigh, 5 Dec), Sa (hamstring, 10 Dec), Grygera (knee, May)

Suspended None

Form guide DDLWLL

Disciplinary record Y30 R0

Leading scorer Johnson, Zamora, Dempsey 3


Subs from Doni, Downing, Kelly, Carragher, Carroll, Coates, Aurélio, Wilson, Flanagan, Henderson

Doubtful None

Injured Gerrard (ankle, Dec), Lucas (knee, Aug)

Suspended None

Form guide DWDWDD

Disciplinary record Y21 R2

Leading scorer Suárez 4

Match pointers

• A total of 12 points from 13 games represents Fulham's joint-worst start to a Premier League season

• Liverpool have won their last three away league games; they have not won four in a row since May 2009

• Danny Murphy has committed more fouls (18) than any other Fulham player this season

• Luis Suárez is averaging 8.2 touches per game inside the opposition penalty area, a Premier League high

• Headed goals account for just 7% of Fulham's tally this season, a division low


Fulham V Liverpool | Tactical & Stats Preview

And what a week that was. From Chelsea to City and back again. Two fantastic performances put in by the players. Then right back down to earth with the hide-under-the-duvet moment when we found out the unfortunate news of Lucas's bad injury. After putting in a couple of bone crunching displays against City and Chelsea, Lucas was just starting to get the far reaching acclaim most of us thought he should have been getting a year ago. Sod's law they say, or Murphy's law where I hail from. Whatever law it is, it's suddenly caused me to be prone to muttering "it's not fair, it's not fair" sporadically throughout my working day. I'm sure all LFC fans will join me in wishing the lad good luck, and reiterating our most prestigious adage to him: you'll not walk alone on this journey Lucas. Get well soon.

Next up is Monday night football with the fuzzy upper-lipped Neville one.  A tactically aware guilty pleasure anyone? As mentioned above Liverpool go into the game on the back of, well not two, but three very promising displays, the two away games against Chelsea, and the home game against the runaway league leaders City at Anfield. If we can maintain that kind of elevated performance level against Fulham then we might not have too much to worry about. Liverpool's form in all competitions reads something like this: WDWDWWDDWWW that makes 11 games unbeaten in all competitions. Our last defeat, nearly 3 months ago, now fading into distance, was against Tottenham on 18th September 2011. We are most definitely on a roll people, and after the madness of the H & G and Hodgson era's who could begrudge us. Our December fixtures which includes 6 games are: Fulham (away), QPR (home), Villa (away), Wigan (away), Blackburn (home) and Newcastle (home). Certainly if we can just sort out our home form against supposedly teams we should beat then these are all games that are very winnable. Certainly we should be aiming to be still unbeaten come January. If we can win the majority of these games I would expect us to be in at least third place come the turn of the year. Currently we are sixth in the table on 23 points. With two teams above us, Newcastle and Chelsea meeting this weekend, on 26 and 25 points respectively, a loss for either one may give us a chance of moving up a place in the table if we beat Fulham on Monday night. Whatever the result, if we win our game we will have gained some points on those two above us.

Fulham go into the game on the back of an away 1-0 loss in the Europa League against FC Twente on Thursday. Preceding that though, in the Premier League they had an impressive away performance against Arsenal at the Emirates where the game ended 1-1. Fulham led the game from the 65th minute with Arsenal equalising in the 82nd, so Fulham fans were probably a little dis-heartened that they didn't come away with the win in the end. Fulham's form and with only one win in the last 6 reads: DDLWLL – that one and only win a 2-0 away win against Wigan. The losses were against Spurs, Everton and Stoke. You wouldn't say that was very impressive form at the moment. They sit 15th in the table on 13 points with Swansea and WBA immediately above them on 15 points. So they could conceivably go above those two teams with a win against ourselves at Craven Cottage.

Fulham Scouting Report
So let's take a look at how Fulham set up, their formation, and who their key men have been so far this season. Martin Jol plays a pretty solid 4-4-2, with the standard 2 full backs and holding player in midfield alongside a more attacking minded midfielder that will link defence with attack.

Jol is another advocate of the passing game, and he likes his teams to keep the ball on the ground – for a team sitting in 15th place it's quite surprising they have completed 4523 accurate open play passes, the average in the Premier League so far this season per team is 4253. That gives them a pass completion rate of 80% and as you can see from the Open Play Pass Completion chart, it puts them on a par with us for the season. Along with Swansea it's nice to see some of the teams outside the top six adapting this more aesthetically pleasing approach to the game. Certainly since Barcelona have started to dominate it's giving teams more confidence to try this passing game rather than the kick and hope physical game the Premier League has become known for the last few years.

This is how I think Fulham will line up. Senderos and Hangeland should occupy the two centre back positions with Riise and Baird as full backs who will try to get forward and provide width and support the attack when they can. Etuhu should patrol in front of the back four and come across to cover any of the full backs who get caught out of position when up field. Murphy will sit slightly advanced from Etuhu and try to provide some through balls for Fulham's forward line. He'll keep Fulham's game ticking over and will also look for long passes out to the wings when he can. Due to Duff being injured, Ruiz started away against Arsenal so I'm assuming he will start against us out on the right wing. He won't only provide width as he is comfortable at coming inside, shooting with his left foot and linking up with Dembele and Zamora up front. Dembele will occupy that zone in between the lines in front of the back four and don't be surprised to see him drop back beyond the halfway line to get an extra man in midfield for Fulham. Zamora will fill the target man role up front and he will give Fulham quite a physical presence in that area. He is a clever player who has been around a while, he can hold the ball up well, will run into the channels and fight and scrap for every ball. He will also bring players into the game with his hold up play. Something our centre halves will need to be wary off.

Lastly, and most interestingly is Dempsey's position. He will start out on the left but if you study his average positions in the games he has played, he quite often drifts inside and will make a lot of his passes in the zone Dembele occupies – as you can see from the Guardian Chalkboard's heatmap above – in both the games against Fulham and Tottenham. Particularly in the game against Spurs, you can see his passing percentages of 38% and 21%, so 49% of his passes were actually so far forward you could mistake them for Zamora's. Furthermore, with 0/3 accurate crosses for the season, this may be as result of his emphasis to come inside, either way, we don't have to worry too much about Dempsey getting to the byline and putting crosses into our box.

In the above table the red highlighted areas indicate a stat which is best in that particular area and the yellow indicates who has the the worst stat. For example Clint Dempsey has the worst amount of shots off target at 14, while Danny Murphy only has 2 shots off target all season. Just taking a quick glance at the table you can notice the amount of stats that Murphy comes out top on, with Dempsey coming in a close second.  Both Murphy and Dempsey have played 13 games this season, however, Murphy has completed 663 passes, almost twice the amount of Dempsey on 349. 60% of Murphy's passes also go forward – coming out top in that area. He also has the best crossing accuracy and chances created on the table at 29% and 33 chances created respectively. He shoots the least often, every 180 minutes, but is the most accurate with his shooting with 67%. It's clear that a lot of Fulham's midfield play comes through Murphy so it will be imperative both our centre midfield players close him down and not give him too much time on the ball.

Not to be overlooked is Clint Dempsey, as in the Goal attempts section on the table he comes out top in most areas. Dempsey has scored 3 goals, equal with Zamora who is a centre forward, has had more shots on target at 20, shoots more often with a shot every 34 minutes and also has a shot on target every 58 minutes. Again, clear that Dempsey, despite playing in midfield, is the most danger in front of goal. So it will be extremely important that the right side of our defence and our holding midfielder are prepared for his shooting and try to get out and close down them shots. In fact it's not just Dempsey who is accurate when it comes to shooting – from the chart attached you can see Fulham are fifth best in the Premier League table of shooting accuracy with 49%.

Liverpool Offensive/Defensive Formation
n the last 3 games we have managed to beat Chelsea away twice, and matched, if not bettered City's billionaire backed team at Anfield. So what has changed from the dull bore draws against Swansea and Norwich et al. The team has been set up mostly with quick thinking players who have a keen footballing brain and can spot when to pass and when not to pass. Including Maxi and Bellamy in the games has been the catalyst to linking up our whole attacking sense of being. As a result, here is my graphic in how I would set up our team against Fulham. At this stage of the season I think the back four just picks itself. Although Carra & Coates came in and done brilliantly against Chelsea in the Carling Cup I just don't see the point in changing the back four when they performed so well against a full strength City and Chelsea side in the league games. Maybe I'm just old school – but you don't change a performing back four. Agger has been outstanding in recent games and we missed his passing skills at the back when he was out injured. Enrique has been a revelation on the left side, and with Johnson coming back into form and scoring a brilliant goal against Chelsea, I see no need to change the full backs. That leaves Skrtel fighting for a place with Carra. However, as the below table of stats show – Skrtel has been holding his own at the centre of our defence. He comes out top on tackles % won at 93% and aerial duels % won at 86.9%. Not to mention 20 headed clearances and 34 successful clearances. When you throw in the partnership he is beginning to form with Agger I believe at this moment in time they are the centre back pairing to go with.

When it comes to the midfield I believe Adam picks himself at the moment. The other position is open up to more debate. With Lucas's unfortunate injury it leaves a space open for somebody to really stake their claim. For me, with this game being played away, and against Etuhu and Danny Murphy in the Fulham midfield, I would go with Spearing. I believe we really need his tenacity in midfield for this game. At the moment I think Henderson might be slightly lightweight for the centre midfield role. Especially away in a game like this. Perhaps if it was a home game against Fulham, I would try Adam in the Alonso role, sitting in front of the back four, and have Henderson in his usual position as an attacking midfielder, linking defence with attack. I just feel this is a game too soon for Henderson to step in. I could be very wrong, but it is just my opinion for the moment.

Another player I would like to see continue in the team is Maxi. At the heart of our most recent revival his passing accuracy and incisive runs might be the difference against Fulham. In the above proposed team graphic I have Maxi on the right, but I would like himself and Downing to switch positions during the game, as I believe Fulham could be vulnerable to a more traditional winger. That is why I've included Downing in the team as opposed to Kuyt. Fulham are a team who play quite narrow and when you look at their average positions (see StatsZone graphic) in games their midfield can become quite congested. Arsenal who also like to play through the centre, had a hard time breaking them down due to this congested midfield. This is something we have to try to avoid happening in our game with them. Notice how far infield both Dempsey and Ruiz are in the Statzone graphic. This is where I think Downing will be important. If he can hug the touchline on either side then it will drag either Ruiz or Dempsey out wide to cover his full back. This in turn will leave some much needed space in midfield for Suarez and Bellamy to operate.

Lastly I would like to see Bellamy and Suarez given the chance to let their partnership up front develop some more. In the league game against Chelsea, in particular they really did flourish. With Bellamy scoring and providing goals now it would seem he has a bit more form than Andy Carroll at the moment. Add that to the fact that Maxi, Bellamy and Suarez are starting to develop an understanding up front, I believe this is the frontline we should start with against Fulham.

So is there an area of the Fulham defence that can be exploited? Let's take a look at the stats for the Fulham defence for this season. Again, red highlighted is a positive, yellow a negative. Quite a mixed bag in the table. From the stats it would seem that Hangeland is the more combative of the centre halves. He has 101 ground 50-50′s in total from 13 games played, nearly twice as much as Riise with 58 in second place. That is 7.7 ground 50-50′s per game. Hangeland also comes out tops in the aerial 50-50′s with 53, again nearly twice as much as his nearest team-mate.  With Senderos with only 25 ground 50-50′s with 5 games played he is averaging only 5 per game. Senderos has also only made 3 tackles from his 5 games played. From this we can conclude that maybe Senderos doesn't get involved too much in the physical side of defending, and rather than jumping into tackles, likes to jockey his player and try to nick the ball from him. For that reason it would seem Bellamy and Suarez would be the perfect forwards for him to go up against. As a consequence I believe if we can get Suarez and Bellamy to drift away from Senderos and try to receive the ball in and around Hangeland, we may get some success from Hangeland's propensity to jump into tackles. Bellamy and Suarez may be too tricky for him on occasions. I expect we might see Hangeland concede a few free kicks from trying to keep up with Bellamy and Suarez if they play.

Summary LFC defence
1. Watch Riise with his left foot – and his crosses. Total of 45 crosses attempted this season. Only Duff with more on 74.

2. Dempsey will come inside and shoot. Has high shooting stats. Right side of our team should be wary of his shooting and playing in between the lines and we should look to close him down.

3. Murphy is the playmaker. Will set up chances. Will get the ball forward quickly and will try incisive through balls to his team-mates. Spearing and Adam must get close to him and try to stop him playing.

4. Zamora – clever at holding the ball up. Will take the ball into his feet and try to bring other players into the game. Our centre halves must be aware of him backing into them and spinning off them. Our defensive midfielder must try to win any second balls that come from him.

Summary LFC attack
1. Adam should try to bring Downing into play with cross-field passes. This will stretch Fulham's narrow midfield and create space in the centre for Suarez and Bellamy to operate.

2. Downing and Maxi to switch wings during the game to try to exploit a weakness in Fulham defence.

3. Maxi to link up with Suarez and Bellamy and make runs beyond the Fulham centre backs who are not the quickest.

4. Suarez and Bellamy to try to receive the ball on Hangeland's side and try to draw tackles so they can win free kicks or dribble past Hangeland as he is prone to jumping in.

If we follow these points I believe we will have a great chance of winning the game. Here's to 3 points and a win.


Vital Preview: Fulham vs. Liverpool

It`s been a dramatic week for Liverpool and after the high of Tuesday`s Carling Cup quarter-final victory over Chelsea, the Merseysiders return to the capital on Monday night for a league encounter with Fulham. Unfortunately the trip to Craven Cottage will be made without Lucas Leiva after the key midfielder suffered a season ending knee injury at Stamford Bridge. Preceding the midweek cup progression, the Reds had also impressed in their last league outing despite dropping another 2 points at home against table toppers Manchester City. So far this season, despite having played a game less on their travels, Liverpool have picked up more points away from L1 than at Anfield (12 points from 6 away compared to 11 from 7 at home). Kenny Dalglish`s men will no doubt start as favourites to add another 3 points to the tally against Martin Jol`s struggling Cottagers who currently lie 15th in the table.

Vital Quotes:
"I am sure I will come back stronger. I will achieve everything that I dream with the LFC shirt. I am sure I'll never walk alone." Tweeted by injured star Lucas

"It could be my toughest job. I think so, yes. At other clubs where I've been you win six out of ten games, and it is easier of course." Fulham boss Martin Jol

Fulham Team News:
Experienced winger Damien Duff is a big doubt for Fulham following the recurrence of a calf injury during the 1-0 loss to FC Twente in the Europa League on Thursday night. Also unlikely to feature are midfielder Steve Sidwell (hernia) and long-term absentee Simon Davies (knee). £10.6m signing Bryan Ruiz is available after being cup-tied in midweek and will hope to begin repaying the club`s big investment with goals, having so far struggled to adapt to the rigours of English football. Fellow attacking players Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey look likely to recover from minor knocks in time to start. Missing since the beginning of November, Czech international defender Zdenek Grygera will be out for another six months with the same anterior cruciate ligament injury that befell Lucas this week.

Player to watch: Moussa Dembele
The 24-year-old Belgium international has been in a rich vein of form over recent weeks and manager Martin Jol has moved to ward off potential suitors after Lokomotiv Moscow and Tottenham were both linked with the former AZ Alkmaar striker. Dembele has great pace and technique, which allied to his good footwork make him a dangerous player. If he can become more clinical in front of goal a glittering future lies ahead. Dembele netted for Fulham against Liverpool last season but his team were soundly beaten 5-2 at Craven Cottage.

Liverpool Team News:
In the face of losing Lucas for the season, Liverpool will be hoping to get a fit Steven Gerrard back quickly although this game will surely come too soon. Sensing the need to boost the squad strength in midfield, Jonjo Shelvey has returned from his impressive loan spell at Championship outfit Blackpool. More likely to replace Lucas in the starting line-up however is local lad Jay Spearing whose 4 starts this season have all come in the Carling Cup. Another option is moving Jordan Henderson to his favoured central position, the summer signing from Sunderland having mainly featured on the right-hand side of midfield to date. Liverpool have no other known injury concerns but do have some difficult selection decisions. Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly, Maxi Rodriguez and Craig Bellamy all impressed against Chelsea and will be hoping to retain their places against Fulham.

Player to watch: Stuart Downing
Rested against Chelsea on Tuesday night, the England international has had an inconsistent time since joining for £20m from Aston Villa in July. His natural strengths of pace, width and directness are things Liverpool have lacked over the past few seasons and on paper the former Middlesbrough man looked an astute signing. After a bright start to his career at Anfield, Downing has flattered to deceive in many games and only shown glimpses of his true ability. However, the 27-year-old followed a great performance for England recently by starring against Manchester City last time out and will now be hoping to add consistency to his performances in a red shirt.

Match Facts & Stats
• Liverpool and Fulham have met a total of 61 times in all competitions. Liverpool hold the upper hand overall with 35 wins to Fulham`s 10 (16 draws).

• Liverpool are on an unbeaten run of 11 matches in all competitions.

• Kenny Dalglish has never lost to Fulham whilst at Liverpool, with two draws as a player and four wins in the dugout.

• Fulham have failed to score in six of their last eight Premier League games against Liverpool.

• Liverpool are yet to register a draw at Craven Cottage in the Premiership era with 6 wins and 4 draws to date.

• Liverpool have won 104 corners so far this season in the league, more than any other team in the top division.

Ref Watch:
Leicestershire official Kevin Friend is the Premier League`s appointed official for this contest. So far this season the 40-year-old has officiated in 11 games and produced 41 yellow and 1 red card in the process. Friend has taken charge of both sides on one previous occasion with Liverpool winning 2-1 against Wolves in September and Fulham losing by the same score against Newcastle back in August.

Match Prediction:
Despite the disappointing loss of Lucas, Liverpool should still have too much for a decent if under performing Fulham. It won`t be easy however and the likes of Dembele, Dempsey and Brende Hangeland plus former Liverpool players Danny Murphy and John Arne Riise are all top quality players. It will be interesting to see what team Dalglish selects as traditionally Fulham are a fairly physical team and accordingly you could expect the likes of Carragher and Andy Carroll to be selected. I hope not and we again utilise Craig Bellamy as chief support to Luis Suarez. My prediction is a 2-1 away win.

Next Fixtures:
Liverpool - Premier League vs QPR at Anfield on Saturday 10th Decmber 2011, kick off 3.00pm.

Fulham - Premier League vs Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday 10th December 2011, kick off 3.00pm.

Read more:


Fatigue not an excuse for England's failures insists Schwarzer

Mark Schwarzer insists end-of-season fatigue cannot be used as an excuse for England's failure at major tournaments.

The Fulham goalkeeper, Australia's most capped player with 94 appearances, said: 'After the 2009-10 season, when we got to the Europa League final and I played 70 games, I went to a World Cup. If that doesn't lift anyone then nothing will.'

Tired and tested: Mark Schwarzer says there can be no excuses

Read more:


Fulham express interest in signing Spanish legend Raul in the summer

Fulham are leading the chase for Spain's all-time leading goalscorer Raul.

The striker's contract with Schalke expires at the end of the season but he is unlikely to stay in Germany, having only been offered a one-year deal.

Hit man: Schalke and former Real Madrid striker Raul, left,

Fulham have already been in contact with his representatives but have not made an offer.

Blackburn also retain an interest in the former Real Madrid star, 34, but are unlikely to be able to afford him.

Meanwhile, Steve Kean wants to move for Greek midfielder Georgios Fotakis.

Sportsmail revealed Rovers' interest and they sent scouts to watch the £1m-rated 30-year-old in PAOK Salonika's Europa League win over Spurs this week.

Kean intends to ask the club to sanction a move at a board meeting on Monday.

The Blackburn manager wants three players in January, including a striker and a defender

Read more:


Fulham mull summer move for Raul
by DAN on DECEMBER 3, 2011

Fulham are considering making a move to bring Spanish legend Raul to Craven Cottage in the summer, according to the Daily Mail.

The 34 year-old, who is Spain's leading international goalscorer, will be out of contract at Schalke at the end of this season and looks unlikely to stay with the Bundesliga side having only been offered a one-year deal. The paper claims that Fulham have already had initial discussions with Raul's agent but have had to table a formal offer. The same report lists Blackburn as being interested in bringing the former Real Madrid striker to the Premier League.

Raul, who is Real's highest all-time scorer, has scored 25 goals in 66 appearances for Schalke since leaving the Bernabeu in August 2010.


Gameiro backed to shine at Hayes
by DAN on DECEMBER 3, 2011

Hayes and Yeading manager Nas Bashir says Corey Gameiro can shine with the Blue Square Premier side despite a difficult start to his loan spell at Church Road.

The Fulham striker, who made his debut for the club in the defeat at Alfreton Town, was substituted at half-time in midweek as Hayes were humbled 4-0 at home by Newport County. But Bashir believes the Australian teenager can display his undoubted talent once he shakes off an ankle injury that has disrupted his season with Fulham to date.

Corey has shown some good signs, but he has come in off the back of a long-term ankle injury. But we will work with him and hopefully he can be good for us in moving forward.

He is at a Premier League club and is an Australian youth international. He will add to what we have got and hopefully help us move up the table.

Gameiro has been sent out on loan to build up his match fitness after that ankle injury curtailed a bright start to the new season with the Whites. Such was his goalscoring form in the Under-18 side that the 18 year-old was promoted to Billy McKinlay's reserve side. Gameiro is expected to feature in the Middlesex Senior Cup tie at Hampton and Richmond later today.


Fulham watching Dijon defender
by DAN on DECEMBER 3, 2011

The Sun are reporting that Fulham are keeping tabs on Dijon defender Abdoulaye Bamba.

Martin Jol is in the market for a right back when the transfer window reopens in January after Zdenek Grygera was ruled out for six months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against Tottenham last month. Bamba was a highly-rated youth footballer in Italy after moving from his native Ivory Coast when he was a young boy. Bamba spent nearly a decade with Italian giants Juventus but moved to Dijon when he signed his first professional contract – a two-year deal with the French side.

Bamba, 21, has made 23 appearances for Dijon after helping the Reds reach the top flight after gaining their first promotion ever in the 2010-11 season. The Sun believes a bid of around £200,00 would be enough to bring the youngster to the Premier League.


Fulham v Liverpool FC Preview: Kenny Dalglish eyes more capital joy

LIVERPOOL FC have been enjoying their short stays in the capital.

Already this season Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool FC men have celebrated a first ever victory at the Emirates Stadium and two impressive wins at Stamford Bridge.

September's day to forget at Tottenham remains the only blot on their copybook.

Liverpool FC return to London on Monday night with the glorious memories of last season's trip to Craven Cottage still fresh.

It was an evening which showcased just how far LFC had come under Dalglish as they ruthlessly put Fulham to the sword with a scintillating attacking display.

Liverpool FC were 3-0 up inside 16 minutes and a 5-2 defeat flattered the hosts. Maxi Rodriguez helped himself to a hat-trick with Dirk Kuyt and Luis Suarez completing the rout.

If the Reds can reach those heights again they will equal a club record.

Only twice in their history have Liverpool secured seven successive away wins in all competitions and they haven't achieved the feat since 1988.

After a week in which his players more than matched Manchester City and then dumped Chelsea out of the Carling Cup, Dalglish is looking for high standards to be maintained against Martin Jol's side.

"We've had some good results in London and let's hope it continues," Dalglish said.

"We won't rest on our laurels. We played really well at Fulham last year but this is a different game, they have a different manager and there are new players for them and for us.

"Fulham have done well. Martin is a good coach so I'm sure they'll respond well to his thoughts.

"Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to put your own thoughts into the team, but Fulham are very good at home.

"We know it's going to be difficult. They have had a decent run and drew at Arsenal last weekend.

"But at the moment I think we're making it difficult for other teams as well. We will see what we can get."

Liverpool FC received plenty of plaudits for their display against unbeaten leaders Manchester City at Anfield last Sunday which deserved more than a point.

But Dalglish insists no-one was in the mood to celebrate a share of the spoils.

"We're never going to be happy with a draw against anybody – we're happy with wins," he said.

"We were delighted with the way we played, but I think we set our standards a little bit higher than drawing against people.

"I think we deserve better than that, I think we are better than that, and it's up to us to stand up and be counted and start winning games.

"We've done fantastically well and in most of the games we've played at home I think we should have come away with three points.

"We'll continue preaching the same philosophy and eventually it is going to come good."

The Reds are unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions since the hammering they endured at White Hart Lane 11 weeks ago.

A feature of that run has been the manner in which Dalglish's side have finished games strongly and the boss says that's testament to the hard yards put in at Melwood.

He said: "We've been delighted with the approach from our players on and off the pitch.

"If you train well you will last the pace better and we certainly haven't had a problem with fitness for any one of our players.

"It's a credit to them as well as the coaching staff, Steve (Clarke) and Kevin (Keen), as well as the fitness people. You only get out of life what you put into it.

"I don't think there is any one of our players who lack fitness or desire. We're happy we've got both of them in abundance."

Tuesday's Carling Cup victory over Chelsea was overshadowed by the serious knee injury suffered by Lucas Leiva which will rule him out for the rest of the season.

But the tie also underlined the strength of Dalglish's squad.

He made seven changes but with Jamie Carragher, Sebastian Coates, Martin Kelly, Jay Spearing, Maxi Rodriguez, Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy coming into the side the Reds were comfortable winners.

Dalglish admits he has some tough selection decisions to make ahead of the clash with Fulham.

"The strength of your squad is the ability of the ones who don't play as often as the others," he said. "There are some of the lads who started the other night who would like to have played more often than they have done, but there is strong opposition here for places.

"It's great credit to them they can go out and put in a fantastic performance like that.

"It does make it more difficult to select a team but it makes it more pleasant as well when you watch them play.

"It's never easy to leave anybody out. They train all week and want to play, but until somebody allows us to put 20 on the pitch we're going to have a problem.

"All they can do is keep themselves fit and prepared. If they keep themselves prepared, they give themselves the best opportunity of impressing – and they certainly were impressive on Tuesday night.

"I don't get any enjoyment out of leaving anybody out of the team. You can sympathise with them if they're disappointed – but then you'd be disappointed if they weren't disappointed."

Fulham have won just twice in the league so far this season and find themselves only three points above the drop zone.

Read More


Celtic determined to keep Everton, Fulham target Matthews

Celtic are keen to hold onto young full-back Adam Matthews amidst interest from Everton and Fulham.

The 19-year old Wales international has started 12 of the Hoops' 16 league games this season but there are fears he may lose his first team spot when Swedish defender Mikael Lustig joins the club in January.

Despite that speculation, Lennon is determined to keep Matthews at Parkhead as the Toffees and Cottagers continue to keep an eye on him.

He also indicated that Liverpool and Newcastle United targets Beram Kayal, Ki Sung-yeung and Gary Hooper are required Celtic players.

"We think they are very talented players, but we are certainly in no rush to let Adam go," Lennon said.


John Arne Riise gears up for Liverpool showdown

JOHN Arne Riise admits his time at Anfield was the best in his career - but will be out to show Liverpool what they're missing on Monday night.

The Fulham full-back faces his former club for the first time since returning to England in the summer when the Reds come to Craven Cottage.

Riise made more than 300 appearances during a seven-year spell at Anfield, scooping five trophies before being sold to Roma in 2008.

However, the Norwegian insists he has unfinished business in the Premier League, and is hell-bent on pushing the Whites up the table by getting one over his old club.

He said: "I felt those seven years were the best seven years of my career.

"I was lucky enough to come into a squad who had just won the treble in 2000/2001 and it just went on from there, winning the the Champions League and the FA Cup and the Carling Cup and stuff was like a dream come true.

"It was hard to leave, I had a lot of friends there and I got to love the club and it's supporters. I just left because that was my choice and I didn't have much choice to stay if I wanted to improve as a player and play.

"But it was always in my mind that I wanted to return to the Premier League. So after two years it was quite an easy decision to come back.

"I have heard people say that they haven't really replaced me but that is not my concern. If they wanted me back they could have made an effort.

"I know a few of the fans wanted me back but I hadn't heard anything and it wasn't even an issue because what's happened has gone."

Riise almost signed for Fulham 10 years ago, but chose Liverpool instead. However, he insists he's glad he finally made the move to SW6.

"It was very close," he added, "but I ended up with Liverpool and I do not regret my decision there because what I've experienced and the games I played in.

"And I don't regret going here now. I'm very happy here."

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Former Bluebird Matthews tracked by Everton and Fulham

FORMER Cardiff City defender Adam Matthews is being tracked by Everton and Fulham – just five months after joining Celtic.

The Wales defender signed for the Glasgow giants after failing to win a place in Dave Jones' Cardiff team last season.

Swansea-born Matthews, 19, signed a pre-contract agreement in February and his four-year contract began on July 1.

Bluebirds' fans were left disappointed by his departure as he had shown great promise since making his City debut in a 1-1 draw at Blackpool in August 2009.

Matthews went on to make nearly 50 appearances for Cardiff and scored one goal, an incredible effort from near the halfway line in a 4-0 win at Watford.

But, after making 35 appearances in the 2009-10 season, first-team chances were few and far between last term as Jones curiously ignored Matthews' starting claims.

Yet it did not stop Matthews making his Wales debut last May – against Scotland in the Carling Nations Cup in Dublin – and he won his fifth cap in last month's 4-1 victory over Norway at the Cardiff City Stadium.

On that occasion he showed his versatility by slotting in at left-back rather than his usual position on the other flank.

Matthews has played 12 league matches for Celtic this season and Hoops boss Neil Lennon is keen to keep him.

"We are certainly in no rush to let Adam go," said Lennon on the reported Premier League interest in Matthews.

Everton are looking at defensive options with long-serving right-back Tony Hibbert 31 in February.

And Fulham are short of right-back cover after Czech Republic defender Zdenek Grygera ruptured his cruciate ligament against Spurs and was ruled out for six months.

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Why Liverpool will prove too strong for Fulham
Kenny Dalglish's Reds can enjoy yet another fruitful trip to west London against Fulham on Monday.

Liverpool must wish they could play in west London every week. Four trips in 2011 have yielded four wins and the Merseysiders have the chance to make it a full house when they head to Craven Cottage to face Fulham in the last Premier League fixture of the weekend on Monday night.

The three victories at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea – two of which that have come in the last fortnight – understandably made more headlines than Liverpool's victory at Craven Cottage in May but that 5-2 win was one of the best performances of Kenny Dalglish's 11 months in charge and I strongly fancy Liverpool to leave their favourite part of London with three points once again.

That outcome is 23/20 with bwin and it is definitely something to get on: the draw is 9/4 and Fulham are 47/20.

I've been a bit critical of Liverpool this season, but I do feel that there is some momentum being gathered. Since a 4-0 hammering at Tottenham in September, Liverpool's form reads WWWDDWWDWDW and there is no denying it is an impressive unbeaten run.

Admittedly there have been a couple of frustrating home draws in that sequence, but away from home Liverpool have been incredibly consistent. In the league, that Spurs debacle aside there has been a staggeringly unlucky defeat at Stoke and four wins with an aggregate scoreline of 8-1. Add four Carling Cup away victories at Exeter, Brighton, Stoke and Chelsea and Liverpool have won eight of their ten away games this season – fantastic in anyone's book and certainly enough to worry an average Fulham side.

Fulham fans must be sick from all the déjà vu. The Cottagers' form is simply a re-working of seasons gone by: neat and tidy in possession and reasonably tight at the back (16 goals conceded is less than Chelsea and Arsenal), they nevertheless struggle to score with just 15 goals all term.

Six of those came in a thumping home win against Queens Park Rangers, which leaves Fulham with a record of just nine goals in their other twelve matches. That win is also their solitary victory in six home games: Everton and Spurs have left with victories while Aston Villa and Blackburn have escaped with a point.

It is not fearsome home form and even allowing for the long term absence of Lucas (a huge blow as the Brazilian has been an excellent performer for some time now), Liverpool, who have won three of their last four trips to Fulham, is the bet and 23/20 is the tempting price.

A £25 free bet on Liverpool to beat Fulham would return £53.75, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.

One other bet to consider is on Luis Suarez to hit the back of the net.

The Uruguayan embarrassed Brede Hangeland in the 5-2 win in May and I think he can do so again. Suarez is 9/2 to score first and 6/5 to net anytime.,10896.html?


Ivorian Linked!

We`ve yet another piece of transfer speculation for you!

According to one piece of gossip floating around in the red-top morning press, Fulham are taking a very close look at Abdoulaye Bamba.

On the books of Dijon, Bamba is from the Ivory Coast and is a full back. At twenty-one years of age he looks a snip at a mere £200,000

Apart from that, we know nothing else about the lad.

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