Liverpool arrive at Craven Cottage this Saturday fresh from having secured a place in the Champions League Final at the expense of our local rivals Chelsea.
We here at Vital Fulham would like to congratulate them on their achievement and wish them luck in Athens on May 23rd. In fact, we here at Craven Cottage, would like to hope that Liverpool would be prepared to do us something of a favour by resting key players ahead of their monumental clash with AC Milan.
Last weekend, ahead of their clash with Portsmouth, Benitez rested seven players with his attention obviously looking forward to the semi-final against Chelsea. Seeing as we`re desperate for points, we`d hate to be a little too physical in quest for survival and injure a couple of your key players Rafael. Think about it son! You know it makes sense.
Ahead of the clash with Fulham, our midfield star, Jimmy Bullard, who has been absent due to serious injury this season, probably a contributing factor to our miserable season, has issued his own rallying cry. Jimmy has backed his team mates to beat the drop but admitted,
"It`s do or die really"
Defender, Zat Knight, has also admitted that the experience the team is about to face will be new to him, suggesting,
"I`ve never really been involved in anything like it. The next two games are massive for us."
Fulham Team News:
Lawrie Sanchez will be hoping that Franck Queuedrue and Ian Pearce are available for selection; both missed the trip to Arsenal last weekend. Claus Jensen will be hoping to keep his place in the starting eleven whilst Montella will be hoping he will be selected and that he will be able to give the Craven Cottage a farewell present before he returns to Roma. Liam Rosenior should have recovered from the bug he picked up that saw him be physically sick last weekend before being substituted to take his familiar place at full back. For many players, if the threat of relegation becomes a reality, this could be their last appearance at Craven Cottage. Let`s hope everyone gives a performance to remember.
Player to watch: Diop
It`s about time our powerful midfielder delivered the sort of performance he`s capable of. In recent weeks he`s only played in fits and starts. With our current predicament, it`ll need everybody to step up to the plate, let`s hope Diop can set the standard and hopefully produce once of those long range goals he used to score on a regular basis.
Liverpool Team News:
After the heights of Tuesday night, it`ll be interesting which eleven Benitez will start with. As we`ve previously mentioned, he rested seven at Portsmouth and saw his side beaten. With Arsenal contesting with Liverpool that third spot in the Premiership, Benitez could end up finishing fourth with all the problems, Champions League wise, that`ll bring. In a way, I hope he chooses his strongest eleven. That way our side will hopefully be inspired and those around us in the relegation places will have no reason to bitch if we emerge victorious. However, don`t be too surprised if the likes of Gerrard and Carragher are not starters.
Player to watch: Gerrard
If he plays, it has to be Gerrard. No cause is lost if Gerrard is on the park. His all action displays have seen him emerge on the world class stage and the recent announcement that he`s about to sign up to the Anfield cause for life will no doubt further cheer up those contemplating a trip to Athens on May 23rd.
Match Facts & Stats
If one image is enough to spur us on then it should be of Lawrie Sanchez heading the FA Cup winner against Liverpool at Wembley. That day, David proved he could be Goliath and Sanchez will no doubt be keen to echo those sentiments. The sight of Dave Beasant, the keeper in that match, saving a John Aldridge penalty should also be embellished on the player`s minds, events that show there is always hope. If, however, they take time out ponder over the history between the two clubs, it`ll frighten them. Therefore, let`s forget what has gone before and concentrate on the future. Let`s go and make our own history!
We`re honoured on Saturday to have the FA Cup Final referee, Mr Steve Bennett from Orpington in Kent, officiating. Hopefully, he`ll have a good game and will commit no gaffs ahead of his prestigious appointment at the first FA Cup Final to be played in the new stadium.
It really is getting to be squeaky-bum time. With at least a win required to pull away from the relegation zone, you`d hope that a home fixture would be the obvious choice to get it. Unfortunately, Liverpool are, when it comes to conceding goals, real misers. Therefore, it`d be churlish to suggest we`re going to come out all guns blazing and smash them off the park. Indeed, with our record for drawing games in the Premiership, a draw could well be considered a good result against the Champions League finalists. However, that would leave us needing to get something at Middlesbrough next weekend. Therefore, I`m going to be brave, although some may consider it fool-hardy, and suggest Fulham will pull something out of the hat and win 2-1! A first Fulham win for Lawrie Sanchez!
Hopefully, we`ll be travelling to Middlesbrough for a meaningless end of season with our Premiership future assured.