Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is seeking to put last week’s defeat to Arsenal behind them and stay on course for a return to the Champions League with the visit of Fulham on Saturday. After a strong start to the season, the defeat was something of a rude awakening but, still lying third after claiming 20 points from their first 10 games, Rodgers believes that they remain on path to claim a spot in the Premier League’s top four for the first time since finishing second in the 2008-09 campaign.
"If you look at where we're at if you're averaging two points a game you would like to think you would get into the Champions League," he said. "Come Saturday if we can get another three points -- which we'll be fighting hard for -- that would take us above that.
"We've built a platform this year but we have to keep pushing and moving forward or else it counts for nothing. We just need to keep focusing and keep our concentration.”
One of the few positives to come out of the defeat at the Emirates was the return as substitute of Philippe Coutinho, and the Brazilian could be included in the starting lineup on Saturday. Also likely to be involved are defenders Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique. Johnson has recovered from the jaw problem that made him a late withdrawal against Liverpool, while Enrique is back in training after a knee problem.
Rodgers will be hoping that Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge rediscover their goal-scoring touch after drawing a blank against Arsenal. One man that knows all about the strengths of Suarez is Martin Jol. The Fulham boss managed the Uruguayan at Ajax and believes he is among the world’s best.
“Suarez, in my opinion, is one of the best in the world, and he will prove that,” he said, according to Fulham’s official website. “I had Suarez with Ajax in Holland and he will score a lot of goals -- he would have been top scorer last year if he hadn’t been suspended.”
Jol has far bigger concerns right now, however. Consecutive defeats leave Fulham just two points above the relegation zone and with Jol under mounting pressure. But, while accepting the fans’ ire toward him, he has urged them to get behind the players on the pitch.
“If they [the fans] are disappointed I can understand that,” he said. “As long as we don’t have the results they can do it [be disappointed] with me, but hopefully they will support our team because we are not in the best of situations, but not in the worst.”
Jol will have defender Brede Hangeland back in the squad, but has yet to make a decision on whether he will be fit enough to start.
Prediction: Liverpool were undone against Arsenal in large part by the dynamism in Arsenal’s midfield, but are unlikely to encounter the same problems against Fulham. Jol’s side remains badly imbalanced with a lack of energy and intensity both with and without the ball pervading their play. Suarez and Sturridge could have a field day against a defense that was so acquiescing to United racing into a 3-0 lead inside 22 minutes last weekend.
Liverpool 3-0 Fulham
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League clash will kick off from Anfield at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBC’s Premier League Extra Time, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.