Buoyant after a magnificent victory away to Bayern Munich took them into the Champions League quarter-finals, Liverpool have the chance to return to the top of the Premier League over the international break when they travel to Fulham on Sunday, with Manchester City in FA Cup action this weekend. The Reds have stuttered in recent away games domestically, but the fantastic performance in Germany during the week should have them brimming with confidence ahead of the visit to Craven Cottage.
In stark contrast to title-chasing Liverpool, the Londoners are fighting an increasingly forlorn battle against an immediate return to the Championship. Having already jettisoned two managers this season, the odds are heavily stacked against caretaker boss Scott Parker keeping them in the top flight and, with their next two matches against the teams currently second and first in the league, the fixtures aren’t falling kindly for them either. Our statistical analysis looks for key trends for both teams ahead of Sunday’s clash.
Last six Premier League games
Fulham: W0, D0, L6, F3, A15, Pts 0
Liverpool: W3, D3, L0, F13, A3, Pts 12
The victory on the road against Bayern on Wednesday bucked the trend of Liverpool’s recent away form, having drawn their last three on their travels in the league and won only one of five Premier League away games in 2019. Their home form is providing a welcome contrast, with three wins and 12 goals at Anfield since the beginning of February. It isn’t just points that are hard to come by for the Reds away from home, either; the three they scored in Munich in midweek matched the total they’ve managed in their last five away matches in the league.
Still, Fulham would kill for the statistics boasted by Liverpool of late. Form is crucial at this stage of the season when battling relegation, and the Cottagers have absolutely none of it. They’ve lost their last six, and nine out of their last 10, in the league, a horrendous run which leaves them 13 points from safety having managed just 17 all season. They’ve conceded 17 goals in their last seven Premier League games, as many as Liverpool have shipped in 30 league matches since the start of the season.
Premier League head-to-head record
Liverpool have almost three times as many wins in previous Premier League meetings between the clubs and have won the last five, including the two most recent Craven Cottage instalments. However, Fulham have had their share of triumphs against the Merseysiders and did the double on them in the 2011/12 season with 1-0 wins home and away.
Previous meetings at Craven Cottage have not been short of goals. Fulham enjoyed a memorable 3-2 win in November 2002 when Facundo Sava, an Argentine striker best known for pulling out a mask as his goal celebration long before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got the idea, was among the goals. Two years later, Liverpool won 4-2 in west London having been 2-0 down at one stage.
The Reds had two players sent off at the venue in a 3-1 defeat in October 2009, although one of the most famous clashes between the two came the previous season. That was the day in April 2009 when Yossi Benayoun scored deep into stoppage time to win the points for Liverpool, who at the time were in hot pursuit of Manchester United in an intense title race that they ultimately lost.
Last Craven Cottage meeting
Fulham 2-3 Liverpool, 12 February 2014
Benayoun wasn’t the only Liverpool player to score a last-gasp winner at Fulham’s ground in the Premier League era. Five years ago, the teams met in similar circumstances to now, with the Londoners in a relegation battle and the Merseysiders in the thick of a title race. They would both fall short in their respective pursuits, but the manner of this victory on a stormy Wednesday night fuelled belief that Liverpool could land the Premier League crown.
It was a night when the Reds had to dig incredibly deep to claim the points. They got off to an awful start when Kolo Toure comically put through his own net to give Fulham the lead before Liverpool equalised on 41 minutes through Daniel Sturridge. Ex-Manchester United man Kieran Richardson restored the home side’s advantage after the interval, with Philippe Coutinho levelling the scored again. As the match entered stoppage time, and with Liverpool set to drop two valuable points, they won a penalty which Steven Gerrard coolly converted to send the travelling Kopites home in delight.
Liverpool’s London record in 2018/19
This is Liverpool’s sixth and final visit to the capital in the Premier League this season, with the Reds winning two and drawing three of the other five. Three of their first four away matches were against London opposition, with a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace in August and a 2-1 defeat of Tottenham at Wembley the following month. Jurgen Klopp’s side drew 1-1 at Chelsea in late September, Sturridge scoring a cracker to salvage a point late on.
Their next trip to London also finished 1-1, this time away to Arsenal in November when Alexandre Lacazette cancelled out James Milner’s penalty. When Liverpool were last in the capital six weeks ago, there was another 1-1 scoreline. This was against West Ham, for whom Michail Antonio equalised on a night when Liverpool frustrated their travelling supporters at London Stadium.
Fulham’s fallibility against the top six
Fulham have played eight matches against the current top six in the Premier League this season and lost every one of them. They’ll be glad that, after they host Manchester City at the end of this month, the loftiest team they’ll face is seventh-placed Wolves.
The Cottagers have already lost twice against Tottenham (3-1 away, 1-2 at home), Arsenal (1-5 at home, 4-1 away) and Manchester United (4-1 away, 0-3 at home), also losing on the road against Manchester City (3-0) and Liverpool (2-0). In eight matches so far against the current top six, they have scored five and conceded 26.
Fulham have yet to gain a point against a top six side this season; Liverpool have failed to win their last three away games in the league and have drawn their last three in London. At least one of those records will tumble by 4:15 on Sunday afternoon.