Trent vs. Lookman, “unlucky” but beatable Liverpool – The view from Fulham

Trent vs. Lookman, “unlucky” but beatable Liverpool – The view from Fulham

Fulham have enjoyed a resurgence in their battle against relegation and supporters believe a positive result could be on the cards at Anfield this weekend.

Liverpool lost 1-0 at home to Chelsea on Thursday night, making it a staggering five home defeats in a row in the Premier League.

Next up for Jurgen Klopp‘s champions is the visit of Fulham on Sunday afternoon, in a game the Reds simply have to win.

The Cottagers looked doomed earlier in the season, but an upturn in fortunes now sees them within touching distance of escaping the relegation zone.

Indeed, Scott Parker’s side actually have more than double points in the last six games than Liverpool.

With kickoff fast approaching, we spoke to Fulham Focus (@Fulham_Focus) to discuss the Cottagers’ improved form, Liverpool’s woes and how Sunday’s clash could pan out.

 

It’s been an eventful season for Fulham – how would you assess it so far?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2019: Fulham's caretaker manager Scott Parker arrives before the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2019: Fulham's caretaker manager Scott Parker arrives before the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s been an interesting season for us – probably better than most Fulham fans thought it would be, even though we’re 18th.

The start of the season was woeful and you couldn’t help but think it was going to be a really long season. Losing seven out of our first 11 games wounded us massively and is probably the reason we are where we are.

I think we would be higher up in the Premier League if we had been playing like we have since then for the whole campaign.

It’s definitely been a slog and it will be all the way until the end.

 

What do you put the Cottagers’ recent upturn in fortunes down to?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2019: A general view of Fulham's Craven Cottage stadium before the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 17, 2019: A general view of Fulham's Craven Cottage stadium before the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Having a solid defence was going to be key for us if we were to have any chance of staying up.

Getting in loan players can be risky as you’re not sure about their desire and passion for the club, but the ones we’ve signed have been fantastic.

Alphonse Areola is one of the best goalkeepers I’ve seen in a Fulham shirt and his experience has been huge for us this season.

Having a loan player as captain was always going to be a gamble, but Joachim Andersen has turned out to be a brilliant captain, a solid defender and a great loan signing.

If you asked every Fulham fan, 99.9 percent of them would love it if he stayed. He’s been solid at the back, his range of passing is magnificent and his partnership with Tosin Adarabioyo has really changed our season and given us a fighting chance.

Our attack is still not potent enough and we probably should have more points, but our lack of firepower up front has let us down and cost us.

Our defence is certainly helping our chances of staying up.

 

Are you backing them to beat the drop now?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s so tricky to call at the moment. We’re constantly relying on those around us to drop points and it makes it harder when some of them have to play each other.

I definitely think we’re good enough to beat the drop, though, and I’ve seen a lot of fans from other clubs back us to stay up as well.

We face Newcastle on the final day which could be huge if we’re neck-and-neck all the way until the end.

I would obviously love it if we could pick up a few wins before then and try and get out of and away from the bottom three, but every game is tough and anyone can beat anyone in this league.

We’re going to keep going right until the very end.

 

Who have been Fulham’s three best players so far this season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 5, 2016: Villarreal's goalkeeper Alphonse ArÈola during the UEFA Europa League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Liverpool at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, May 5, 2016: Villarreal's goalkeeper Alphonse ArÈola during the UEFA Europa League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Liverpool at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Areola – As I mentioned earlier, the goalkeeper has kept us in numerous games this season, making some unbelievable saves.

He spent last season on loan at Real Madrid and he’s a World Cup winner. He pulls off saves you can’t believe and hasn’t made many mistakes this season.

Andersen – Another player who’s been key to our upturn in form. His range of passing is fantastic and his leadership is probably something we’ve lacked in recent seasons.

He is extremely composed on the ball and his experience playing for a side like Lyon has been huge for us.

Andre-Frank Anguissa – He came back from a loan spell at Villarreal and looked a completely different player to the one who played for us in the 18/19 season.

He looks much more confident, is able to skip past defenders with ease and take the ball past someone like they’re not there.

We will struggle to keep hold of him next season, regardless of our league status.

 

Any who have been particularly poor?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (R) and Fulham's Ruben Loftus-Cheek during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (R) and Fulham's Ruben Loftus-Cheek during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Recently, those who have been in the team have all performed well, in my opinion.

A lot of Fulham fans seem to have it in for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and I’m not sure if it’s because their expectations are ridiculously high for someone whose career has been riddled with injury.

He has actually played well, especially in the last few weeks, so I don’t think the criticism is justified.

Aleksandar Mitrovic will always be a hero in fans’ eyes, but this season hasn’t been good enough and I’m sure even he could tell you that. He has only scored two goals and they were in the second game of the season.

He has been on the bench quite a lot and has had a few injuries, along with a huge loss of confidence when missing penalties for us and Serbia.

I think he will rediscover his best form soon and he will hopefully be with us next season, wherever we are.

 

Switching our attention to Liverpool, why do you think they have struggled this season?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s no secret that Liverpool have struggled with injuries and obviously losing Virgil van Dijk was a massive setback for you.

I think the Reds’ confidence took a huge hit from it, too, and it can be difficult to recover from that.

I also think expectations were maybe too high because you ran away with it last season, and maybe you were expected to do the same again this time around.

Having no fans is having an impact, but I think that’s probably the case for some other teams struggling as well.

 

Do you think they will bounce back and be title contenders next year?

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2021: Liverpool's Curtis Jones celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Sheffield United FC and Liverpool FC at Bramall Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 28, 2021: Liverpool's Curtis Jones celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Sheffield United FC and Liverpool FC at Bramall Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

You will always be title contenders with a squad like the one you’ve got now.

Everyone relies on a bit of luck and Liverpool are no different. You’ve been unlucky this season, but with a fully fit squad, you will always be in the mix.

With Man City performing as they are currently, it will make for an interesting title race next season, that’s for sure.

 

Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, who do you fear most for the Reds?

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (right) scores their side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at the London Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday January 31, 2021. Justin Setterfield/PA Wire/PA Images

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (right) scores their side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at the London Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday January 31, 2021. Justin Setterfield/PA Wire/PA Images

I always fear Mo Salah whenever we come up against Liverpool.

He didn’t do too much in the reverse fixture, luckily for us, but Fulham fans know how dangerous he can be and his speed has caught out many teams in the past.

He has undeniable quality and it’s up to us to stop that on Sunday.

 

Where do you see the key battles taking place?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 3, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Personally, I think Ademola Lookman and Trent Alexander-Arnold will have an interesting battle down the wing.

Both have decent pace on them, as well as brilliant quality going forward.

There’s no doubt Trent will want to get forward and get balls into the box, so it will be up to Lookman to muck in defensively and help stop the Liverpool right-back.

We know the Reds have been somewhat weaker at centre-back, so it’s up to our striker, whether that’s Josh Maja or Mitrovic, to try and take advantage of the lack of confidence shown in recent weeks.

Yes, there was a win and a clean sheet at Sheffield United last Sunday, but there’s definitely weaknesses for us to exploit.

 

Finally, hit us with your prediction…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 20, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 238th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. Everton won 2-0, the club’s first win at Anfield since 1999. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 20, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 238th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. Everton won 2-0, the club’s first win at Anfield since 1999. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

We’re in a tough run of fixtures at the moment and we need to pick up points no matter who we’re playing. We seem to play differently against the bigger clubs, though, as we adopt a nothing-to-lose attitude.

Liverpool are beatable – we could’ve won in the reverse fixture at Craven Cottage – so I’m going to go with a 1-1 draw.

The Reds’ confidence is still low, although admittedly not as low as it was before the Sheffield United game.

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