Preview: Liverpool FC v Fulham FC - 22 December 2012 - k/o: 17.30

Posted by ashleyrose-66 on December 13, 2012, 09:55:05 AM

Liverpool host West London side Fulham at 17.30 on Saturday 22 December.  The game is live on ESPN.

Whilst most people will be turning their attention to getting their last-minute Christmas gifts, wondering why that DVD box-set hasn’t arrived despite ordering it weeks ago, and collecting their pre-ordered Christmas Turkey from the Butchers – Liverpool’s players will be focussing on wrapping up 3 much-needed points at Anfield and look to get the Aston Villa result out of their system before Santa comes 3 days later.

We’ll focus a bit more on the game later, but whenever I think of Liverpool v Fulham, I can’t help but be reminded of a couple of amazing games.   

Time for a small trip down memory lane…

Some will remember the 10-0 League Cup thrashing back in September 1986.  At the time, Fulham were a 3rd division (League 1 in new money) outfit, and were brushed aside by a strong Liverpool side in front of a sparse crowd of just under 14,000 at Anfield.  Liverpool raced in to a 4-0 half-time lead and ran out 10-0 winners against a hapless Fulham side.  Steve McMahon took home the match ball after netting 4 goals, including a second-half hat-trick; with John Wark and Ian Rush’s doubles being added to by Ronnie Whelan and Steve Nicol efforts.  The 10-0 win is still the record victory in the competition (held jointly with West Ham United who beat Bury 10-0 in 1983.)

But who can forget the 5-goal haul by a young local lad who only made his first team debut against them at Craven Cottage a fortnight earlier in September 1993.  Robert Bernard Fowler, a scrawny young lad with a dodgy French crop haircut had already scored a left-foot volley in that debut game, capping a 3-1 win at a wet and windy Craven Cottage - but it was his performance in the second leg at Anfield that gave Liverpool fans a glimpse of what was to follow for a number of years with a clinical display of sublime finishing. 

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Fowler fires five…

Robbie Fowler had announced himself as a Liverpool player, he would go on to score 183 goals (128 league goals) for Liverpool.

Fowler who was nicknamed “God” by the adoring masses remained with Liverpool, scoring goals for fun, for 8 years - winning 2 League Cups, The FA Cup, The UEFA Cup, The Charity Shield and The UEFA Super Cup, he also won back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year Awards in 1995 and 1996, before departing for Leeds United in the autumn of 2001.

But this was a man with a Biblical moniker, so there was, of course, the ‘second coming’ in 2006 when Rafael Benitez re-signed Fowler (who was by then at Manchester City) just before the January transfer window slammed shut.  Fowler’s old #9 shirt was now being adorned by Djibril Cisse, and Jamie Carragher had made Fowler’s original #23 shirt his own, so he settled for the #11 shirt for the remainder of the season.
Fowler made his Liverpool return against Birmingham City, but was unable to cap a dream return by scoring; he had a couple disallowed if I remember rightly.  He would have to wait until the home game against Fulham on 15th March before he would finally break his duck (again!) in a 5-1 thrashing of the Londoners.  Almost 13 years after scoring his first ever goal for Liverpool football club against Fulham, Fowler scored his first goal in his second spell against the same club. 

We fast forward to the present day, and we find Fulham FC in much better shape than they were when Graeme Souness afforded the 17 year-old “Toxteth Terror” his debut almost 20 years ago!
Bought by former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed in 1997, he quickly set about transforming the club’s fortunes and secured the services of striker Paul Peschisolido and Wales defender Chris Coleman for record sums of money spent by a club outside the top 2 divisions in English football.
Al Fayed had a 5-year plan which was to reach the Premier League.  Manager Mickey Adams was sacked and Kevin Keegan came in to steer the side to promotion to the Championship. 
They achieved their goal to reach the Premiership with a year to spare in 2001.

Last season, Fulham came to Anfield to face a Liverpool side preparing for the FA Cup Final just 4 days later.  A much-changed Liverpool side never got in to the game at all, and went down by a single goal when two former Liverpool employees, John Arne Riise and Alex Kacaniklic, combined before Martin Skrtel turned in to his own net gave Fulham their first ever win at Anfield and cap a first ever league double over the Reds following an ill-tempered 1-0 win at Craven Cottage back in December.

In the summer, manager Martin Jol oversaw a host of player changes down by the River Thames.
Fulham lost Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele to London rivals Tottenham Hotspurs and saw Andy Johnson move to local rivals QPR.  Club captain and former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy moved back to the north-west and joined Blackburn Rovers.
Fulham did, however, bolster their squad as Dimitar Berbatov, Mladen Petric and Hugo Rodallega moved to the club... After all, who wouldn’t want to play in a stadium with a statue of Michael Jackson in it!

Liverpool head in to the game following a shock 3-1 home defeat against Aston Villa, and will look to get back to winning ways against a Fulham side who also suffered a shock reverse at the weekend against bottom club QPR.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez will hope to gobble up any chances that come his way against Fulham.  Despite being so close to Christmas, Liverpool’s players will be looking to avoid collecting any unwanted cards on Saturday.   If Liverpool manage to take their chances, it could be a real cracker but if they are wasteful, Fulham could leave Anfield with the Reds looking like puddings!

Merry Christmas everyone!  :)

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