Spyin' Kop: Liverpool v Fulham (9th December, 2006)

Posted by Welshred on December 7, 2006, 07:34:06 PM

Liverpool return to Premier League action after their second trip in 18 months to Turkey’s Attaturk Stadium where they lost to Galatasaray by 3 goals to 2, Robbie Fowler bragging a brace and the Reds had the luxury of playing a few youngsters and leaving Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina, Sami Hyypia and Steve Finnan at home. In a freak six minutes, 3 goals were scored – now where have we seen that before? In the league the Reds are unbeaten at home, winning 6 and drawing 2 and only their away record letting them down as they currently lie joint 3rd (ok it’s fifth but let’s be optimistic eh?) with 25 points.

Fulham on the other hand have had a week off after their weekend loss to Blackburn. So far away from home Fulham have won 1, drawn 4 and lost 1 but travel up to fortress Anfield in a bit of indifferent form, losing their last 3 our of 4 games – the solitary win being the 2-1 demolition of Arsenal at Craven Cottage a week last Wednesday. Fulham currently lie in 13th place, 5 points behind the Reds on 20.

Liverpool v Fulham
Saturday 9th December
Kick Off: 3pm
Referee: Uriah Rennie

Team News

Liverpool are expected to recall Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina, Steve Finnan and Sami Hyypia who were all rested for the Champions League game in Istanbul midweek, whilst Bolo Zenden, Momo Sissoko, Mark Gonzalez, Fabio Aurelio, Stephen Warnock and Harry Kewell all miss out through injury. It’s been a big week news wise for the Reds, playing their first league game since the news broke of £450million and with the rested players returning a Sheikh up of the starting 11 is expected, let’s hope we can impress our potential new owners.

Fulham are without experienced goalkeeper Antti Niemi, who is out for around a month, Jimmy Bullard who is out for the rest of the season, Franck Queudrue and Mark Pembridge for the trip to Anfield.

Last season’s fixture at Anfield: Liverpool 5-1 Fulham

For the Fulham fan view I went to The Fulham Independent fansite T-F-I – clicky for the thread which was posted. Please note that the responses below were sent in by email.  Thanks to Tristan, Andy and Kevin for their responses, here are their answers below:

You currently lie 10th in the table, how has the season shaping up so far?

Tristan - Typical Fulham. We've beaten Arsenal, matched Chelsea, but been dreadful in other games. We're playing worse football than last year, but results are about the same....

Andy - I think most people would've settled for this overall at the start. We're a bit hot and cold this season. We were awful against Charlton and Everton first half, but then pulled the results out of the bag with two excellent 2nd half shows. We totally outplayed Arsenal last Weds, but then were absolutely spineless against Blackburn on Saturday. You never really know what's going to happen this season, whereas last season if we were at home you were positive and confident. If it was an away game, you were usually standing on Euston/Kings Cross station bleary eyed on a Saturday morning wondering why the hell you were bothering?

Kevin - Excellent considering (a) our general resourcces and (b) injuries which meant that we were without Elliott, Elrich, Pembridge, Bullard, Jensen, Diop and Boa Morte, (all midfielders!). Recently, Jensen Diop and Boa have comeback.

What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?

Tristan - Not really. Hover above any realistic relegation battle and finish 12th to 16th.

Andy  - Depends who you talk to. A number of people were really worried that this was/is our year for the drop, particularly after the 5-1 drubbing at the Mancs on the opening day. Most people thought that Reading would stay up, so one of the established teams would go, and that it could easily be us. I think the general consensus though was that a top ten finish plus a half-decent Cup run would represent a good season for us.

Kevin - Ever the optimist, I hope for 10th, expect 15th. No, I expect we will fall back.

Chris Coleman is a bright young manager, how are Fulham progressing under his leadership?

Tristan - I'm not convinced. I watched Fulham in the bottom division, so I'm not spoilt, or expecting us to win the premier league, but there seems to be real issues with tactics, and indeed selection, at times. Although we've not got the biggest of squads, the players we have, and have had (look at how well Saha, Finnan, Van Der Saar, Sean Davis) have been capable of better than what we've seen. He's also stubborn and plays far too defensively at times. Don't get me wrong, he obviously has some ability, I just think he has a lot to learn, and a club like Fulham may not be the best place.

Andy - Again, depends who you talk to. This issue polarises Fulham fans more than any other. Some people think that with the squad we have we should be doing much, much better, and want him out - the sooner the better. They usually bring up allegations of cronyism and a drinking culture amongst the management and a group of 'favoured' players. Some people think he's doing an O.K. job, that we should perhaps be doing a bit better, especially in the Cups and away from home, but wonder who we would realistically be able get in to replace him that could do better? The last group think that he's doing brilliantly keeping the club up on limited resources, usually citing the fact that Steve Bruce took a Birmingham squad on a par with ours down. I'm in the middle group. There is however on the part of everyone an enormous willingness to see Cookie succeed, even amongst his biggest detractors. He was a Fulham legend as a player and no-one would take any pleasure in seeing him fail.

Kevin - Despite the grumbles of some Fulham fans about what they say is a lack of tactical nous and adventure, he is doing a very very good job. We are improving financially and steadily expanding the fan base – not an easy thing in our part of London and considering that it’s really not long since we were 91st in the league.  He has kept us in the Prem on slim resources for 4 years and he  is improving all the time. Mark Hughes is spot on – if he and Coleman were English they would have been talked about for the England job.

Do you think he may do a Keegan and leave to manage on the international stage one day? Possibly for Wales?

Tristan – Possibly.

Andy - He's said on record that he would like to manage abroad one day. Whether he'd fancy the Wales job I'm not sure. His name was mentioned a little bit when Mark Hughes left, but he immediately ruled himself out, saying he didn't feel experienced enough. I think his name is always going to be linked to the Wales job whenever it becomes available as there are simply not many high profile Welsh managers around. It's a bit like Martin O'Neill and the N. Ireland job.

Kevin - Very probably, but only when he is good and ready.  A determined (and stubborn) man is our Chris. 

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

Tristan - Ironically - Phillipe Christanval - who hardly plays. His performance, and distribution from the back completely changed the outlook of the team in the Arsenal game

Andy - I'd probably go for Antti Niemi. I was amazed that we kept Van der Saar for so long, and was equally amazed when we signed Niemi. A decent keeper's worth seven or eight points a season, and the fella's top class. Put it this way, if you offered me a swap of any of the Liverpool players, Niemi would be one of the few where I'd look at your player and say "No ta."

Kevin - When he comes back,the injured Jimmy Bullard (anterior cruciate ligaments have put him out until next season). Currently, Claus Jensen because he is our one consistently creative player.

Your worst player(s)?

Tristan - Loads. Elrich, Elliot, Runstrom and Nic Jensen rarely play but are all terrible. Our worst 'regular' is Ian Pearce, who's had a better season, but still isn't up to much

Andy - If you're talking about regular first teamers then I'd probably say either Ian Pearce or Radzinski. Pearce is supposedly one of those who plays because he's Coleman's mate. I actually think he deserves a bit more respect than that, but what I would say is that he's too slow for the Premiership. He's terrific when it's going to be a physical game or an aerial assault like Bolton or Everton, but anyone with pace will cut him to ribbons. This was exposed when he got sent off against Reading a couple of weeks ago. The guy didn't do anything particularly clever, he just got in behind him, Pearce saw him pulling away, lunged in and that was it, penalty and red card. This is always the danger when you play him. As for Radzinski, he just never looks up for it half the time. I do have sympathy with him in that Coleman always, always plays him out of position. He's a striker, but has probably only started up front for us about half a dozen times.

Kevin - Currently, I would not name a ‘worst’ player – I support all Fulham players. In former years, far too many too mention!

With the January transfer window coming up, who would you like to see join the club?

Tristan - Mirko Vucinic from Roma. Top quality striker, available on loan. We need a decent right winger as well.

Andy - We're always more concerned with who's potentially leaving!! Coleman has stated though that no-one's going unless we get offered silly money, and he's got a little bit of wedge to spend. We're a bit short up front and rumour has it that we've already done a deal for Clint Dempsey of New England Revolution, and we've also been linked with a loan deal for Mirko Vucinic who's struggling to settle in at Roma, and I think would be an excellent buy.

Kevin - Steed Mabranque back but of course it ain’t gonna happen.

Who do you think will join the club?

Tristan - This Clint Dempsey fellow from the US.

Andy - If anyone my money would be on Dempsey.

Kevin - A few foreigners you’ll never have heard of.  (Nor will I)

Where do you expect Fulham and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

Tristan - We'll finish 14th. You'll finish 4th.

Andy - Fulham I'd say 12th/13th. As for Liverpool I'll say 4th.

Kevin - Fulham 14th, Liverpool 4th.

Right, as to the match itself, Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

Tristan - Xabi Alonso. I saw him as a 19/20 year old at Real Sociedad and he tore Real Madrid to shreds - Sociedad won 4-1. It was one of the most outstanding performances I've seen. (Not dissimilar to the display at Craven Cottage a couple of years back when he came on at half time, and brought you back from 2-0 down to win 4-2)

Andy - A bit obvious but you have to say Gerrard. And Kuyt looks a bit handy, doesn't he? Or if he plays Robbie Fowler normally always bloody scores against us.

Kevin - Has to be Stevie G.

What sort of line-up will be put out against us?

Tristan - 4-5-1 Defensive. Probably will line up GK Lastukva, DF Rosenior, Volz, Christanval (I hope), Knight, MF Boa Morte, Radzinski, Brown, Diop, Jensen ST McBride.

Andy - Expect us to play 4-5-1, try and keep it tight at the back and hit you on the break whenever we can.

Kevin - A fluid 4-5-1 which changes effortlessly to 4-3-3!

Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs?  Say something that happened to you that day or a decision you disagreed with?

Tristan - Loads. Losing 10-0 in the league cup, Robbie Fowlers first 6 goals for the club - also in the league cup (5 at Anfield) Paul Peschisolido's wonder goal in a 3-1 league cup defeat in 98, Louis Saha missing an open goal in the league cup in 2000 which would have won us the game (a lot of league cup here), A battling 0-0 draw in our first premier season, A horrific foul on Steed Malbranque by Danny Murphy at Loftus Road before Murphy got an 89th minute winner from the penalty spot, and the previosuly mentioned Xavi Alonso show.
Andy - Well, for Fulham fans of my age (36), our fondest memories are of those great League (Milk?) Cup games in 83/84 where we pushed you all the way before you edged us out 1-0 in extra-time at the Cottage in a 2nd replay. It's also hard for me to forget my first visit to Anfield - that 10-0 hammering in '86! I remember the Kop singing "Keeper, keeper, give us a save!" at John Vaughan, which he took with good humour, and at 9-0 some of us doing the conga and singing "We only came for the programme!" Also remember Fowler putting five past us on what I think was his Anfield debut (?).

Kevin - Ten years ago in the league cup you won 10-0 (and Steve McMahon missed a penalty!). Say something that happened to you that day or a decision you disagreed with? You turned up.

Do you have any favourite/best chant(s) and perhaps any that require an explanation?

Tristan - hmmm. Best not go there. Several about Chelsea which are too full of expletives to mention. Other than that, the standard, same one's as everyone else. We used to do rather a fetching cover (!!) Of Nielsen's 'Without you' in the old days. Before Mariah Carey ruined it.

Andy - Not really, the usual stuff. Expect Riise (aka 'Mummy's Boy') to get a load of stick if he plays - we haven't forgotten how poorly he behaved towards us. Conversely, expect Steve Finnan to get a great reception whatever half he comes out to defend the Anfield Rd end.

Kevin - We have a very poor selection of chants. You’ll probably hear “blawhiarmy” – a very cut down version of ‘Chrissie Coleman’s black and white army’

And finally…

Liverpool have a pretty formidable record at Anfield, do you think you’d be able to pull a result of the bag? Predict the score, you know you want to!!!

Tristan -  Depends on that man, christanval. If he plays, I fancy a cheeky 1-1. If not, we'll get done by 3, so I'll say 4-1.

Andy - We normally score at Anfield, and as I can just never predict us to lose I'll say 1-1. I'll certainly have a good trip home if it is!

Kevin - Our last 3 matches have seen us lose at home to Reading, then beat Arsenal at home and lose to Blackburn away. In last season’s fixture you put 5 past us.  Of course we’ll win 3 nil!

Thanks again to Tristan, Andy and Kevin for their views on this weekends match. Enjoy the game lads, but not too much!

© Welshred 2006

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