Fulham v Liverpool preview

30 October 2009 11:13
// A bit of a hack but it works// The article snippet is wrapped onto a second line, even when #article-sub is emptyif( $("div#article-sub").children().length == 0 ) {$("div#article-sub").remove();} Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez will be reminded that a week is a long time in football if victory is not secured at Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Reds eased the pressure on their Spanish boss with a memorably dramatic victory over bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield last weekend, leading some to suggest they remain title contenders.

If speculation was accurate, Benitez was facing the sack if the Red Devils were not defeated after overseeing Liverpool's worst form for 22 years following the losses to Fiorentina, Chelsea, Sunderland and Lyon.

The former Valencia chief earned breathing space with last Sunday's three points against United, but he will be aware that, after a changed team were eliminated from the Carling Cup at Arsenal in midweek, a feeling of suffocation could quickly return.

Experienced Fulham boss Roy Hodgson will empathise with the pressure Benitez is facing, having experienced the spotlight in the past, but he will not be in any mood to offer his opposite number assistance in West London.

Positive displayA makeshift Craven Cottage outfit impressively battled back from a two-goal deficit to earn a 2-2 draw at Manchester City last Sunday and they will be keen to build upon the positive display.

Hodgson's men, who surpassed expectations to finish seventh last season, have struggled for consistency this time around as they wrestle with Europa League commitments and the Cottagers want to move out of mid-table mediocrity.

Last season, Fulham agonisingly lost on home soil to Liverpool as Yossi Benayoun scored a late winner, but they are currently unbeaten in their last three Premier League games.

Hodgson will test the fitness of Paul Konchesky as the full-back has been struggling with an ongoing knee problem ahead of Saturday's kick-off.

Danny Murphy, who won a cup Treble with Liverpool in 2000/01, could return from injury to face his former club.

Horror missHowever, key men Simon Davies and Andrew Johnson are still absent. Bobby Zamora will be out to atone for his horror miss against City.

Defeat to Arsenal was Liverpool's fifth in six games, and as they bid to avoid another setback the Reds have been hit by the news that captain Steven Gerrard has been ruled out.

Benitez has admitted that his inspirational skipper is still struggling with a groin problem sustained while on international duty with England, with reports suggesting that an operation could be on the horizon.

Right-back Glen Johnson has also been ruled out for a week after suffering a small tear to a calf muscle.

Fernando Torres should start after his heroics against United, while Jose Reina will also feature after dropping to the bench for a rest against Arsenal.

Summer signing Alberto Aquilani made his first-team debut in the defeat at Emirates Stadium following injury but he is suffering with a virus.

Possible starting XIsFulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Kelly, Duff, Greening, Baird, Dempsey, Kamara, Zamora.

Liverpool: Reina, Skrtel, Carragher, Agger, Insua, Benayoun, Mascherano, Lucas, Aurelio, Kuyt, Torres.

Source: SKY_Sports