Liverpool will begin their title charge on Saturday lunchtime as Fulham welcome the domestic cup double winners to Craven Cottage. The last time the two sides met in West London, Fulham held the then champions to a point, after a late Mo Salah penalty avoided defeat for the visitors. Fulham went onto do one better at Anfield however. A Mario Lemina strike on the brink of half time handed Liverpool their 6th successive defeat at home, making history for the reds. Will The Cottagers be able to shock the world by compiling further misery to Liverpool? Or will the title contenders continue where they left off from last season?
It’s worth looking at the players that won’t be featuring in the game for both sides. The biggest absence for the hosts is former Liverpool winger Harry Wilson who will miss the game due to a knee injury. The 25 year old Welsh international had his best season in his career so far last time out...scoring 10 goals whilst registering 21 assists in all competitions. It’s a big blow for Fulham, especially when it comes to set pieces.
In other news, Joe Bryan will also miss the game due to a fractured hand.
For the visitors, things are looking a little worse as Liverpool currently have 6 first team players currently out with injuries.
Diogo Jota still hasn’t returned from his recurring hamstring injury which ruled him out for pre-season. Jurgen Klopp confirmed in his press conference earlier on today that it would be a few more weeks until the Portuguese international returns to training.
Things are looking slightly better for left back Kostas Tsimikas as the manager confirmed that he is now back on the pitch & could return to full training next week.
Ibrahima Konate has been ruled out of action for “A while” by manager Jurgen Klopp, who then went on to say the likes of Nathaniel Phillips may end up staying at the club this summer, which doesn’t look good for the Frenchman. Konate picked up a knee injury during a pre-season game vs RC Strasbourg.
Curtis Jones suffered a calf injury & was absent from Liverpool’s final pre-season friendly. There’s speculation that he will be out of action for approximately 2-4 weeks, however Jurgen Klopp states that with young players, they will take their time.
Liverpool’s biggest injury within their squad at the minute is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who has suffered a serious hamstring injury whilst away in Singapore. The 28 year old will be out of action for a number of months.
Finally with some good news for Liverpool fans. Jurgen Klopp confirms that central midfielder Naby Keita returns to training today after recovering from illness, which is a huge boost for Liverpool going into the season.
Fulham – Leno, Robinson, Ream, Tosin, Mbabu, Palhinha, Reed, Pereira, Solomon, Kebano, Mitrovic
Liverpool – Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson, Diaz, Nunez, Salah
The biggest debate for Liverpool’s starting line-up is whether Klopp will opt for Darwin Nunez to make his full Premier League debut, or whether he’ll ease him into the game from the bench. In my opinion, I’d like to see Nunez start this game to continue from his impressive cameo at the King Power Stadium last weekend.
Harvey Elliott should certainly be considered to start in midfield after a very impressive pre-season, and also a solid performance from the bench in the Community Shield. However with the first game of the season being away from home, I can only see Jurgen Klopp starting with his captain.
Fabio Carvalho of course made the switch from Craven Cottage to Anfield this summer, so it will be interesting to see if he gets on at all & just what sort of reception he will receive from the Fulham Faithful. Hopefully they will give him a warm welcome back as the 19 year old played a huge part in their title win, whilst remaining very professional ahead of all of the media speculation regarding his future.
With it being Fulham’s first game back in the Premier League after strolling to the Championship title with ease, I do believe this will be a tougher game than a lot of people are expecting. I certainly feel that they’ll be up for the challenge, and Craven Cottage will become a hostile place for the Liverpool side to play. However, you can’t ignore the difference in quality between the two sides. Liverpool know just how important these kinds of fixtures are when going for a title. My prediction for this game is a 2-0 win to Liverpool.