The Anfield Wrap’s match preview before Liverpool v Fulham in the 2022-2023 Premier League at Anfield, with The Reds looking for five wins in a row…
IT will take you longer to read to the end of this article than the time that elapsed between Richarlison scoring to make things 3-3 and Diogo Jota having other ideas.
Just 99 seconds between utter disappointment and sheer elation.
Disappointment to elation is something fans have gotten used to over the course of the season. An entire season in a game, or more accurately in two minutes. What started as total dominance and a Liverpool side that looked like it could score 10 – and that’s just before half time – quickly struggled to work out what to do with a 3-0 lead.
Did they carry on pushing for a fourth, sit back and defend a little more? What transpired was sort of something in between, and then finding any sense of rhythm became difficult.
But then the winner came, making it four consecutive wins for the very first time this season. Nine games remaining has quickly become five, and although the likelihood of Champions League football looks slimmer by the week, the return of Jürgen Klopp’s fist pumps showed this team still thinks it has something to play for.
“The run in begins…” wrote Trent Alexander-Arnold on his Instagram, and first up it’s Fulham tonight. With hopes of European football dwindling and their Premier League position assured for next season, in part following the lengthy suspension of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham are one of only a few teams with little to play for in terms of league position.
Without their leading goalscorer, and with injuries to key midfielders Willian and Andreas Pereira, Fulham’s results have taken a downturn, but the first game of the season is a reminder they cannot be underestimated.
Teething problems are to be expected with a change in system, and while you could see how both Ibrahima Konate and Virgil Van Dijk were getting overexposed when faced with quick counter attacks, I expect both of them to start tonight.
There is an argument to give Andy Robertson a rest and bring Kostas Tsimikas into the starting lineup, but with Trent’s new role in its infancy, Klopp will be reluctant to make too many additional changes to the defensive line.
Fabinho will play alongside Trent, with captain Jordan Henderson returning to the starting 11 tonight. Six consecutive starts is the most Curtis Jones has had in his Liverpool career, and a goal topped off what has been an impressive few performances. For the remainder of the season, and with Thiago confirmed to be out and requiring surgery, the shirt is his to lose.
“If we have only three for three positions, it’s easy to line up, but we have five to name, it’s just a job to do,” said Klopp in his pre-match press conference. A forward line where the manager is spoilt for choice, injuries have slowly started to creep in. Diogo Jota is a doubt with a back problem, so it’s likely that Luis Diaz will get his second consecutive start tonight.
Looking more comfortable and impressive in the central role with every game, Cody Gakpo will play through the middle, with the inevitable Mo Salah completing the lineup.
Just keep winning, Reds. Let’s see where it takes us.
Predicted 11: Alisson; Trent, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Gakpo, Jota
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Playing in the Europa league after the champions league is a bit like following the Lord Mayors parade. Please not the conference league . European one.