An atrocious five successive home defeats followed by a record unbeaten Anfield streak in the Premier League is not only shocking but also shambolic for a club of Liverpool’s calibre. Injuries have ruined their season, especially at the back but that does not justify the disastrous form of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the attacking third. Although a ‘top four’ finish seems unlikely for obvious reasons, there should not be any excuse if they fail to beat relegation strugglers Fulham at home this Sunday afternoon.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have been one-dimensional, predictable and highly wasteful with their final deliveries. The empire built by the charismatic German is falling apart and the Cottagers, having shown enough grit and determination in the reverse tie, would love to join the party and add more misery to the Reds’ dreadful run.
Despite failing to restore creativity, Klopp has not tweaked the set-up and stuck to his preferred 4-3-3 week in week out. However, the return of Diogo Jota must be utilized now and a 4-2-3-1 needs to be explored to draw an end to their goal drought at Anfield.
Predicted 4-2-3-1 Liverpool Lineup To Face Fulham
Alisson Becker returned to action against Chelsea in the aftermath of a compassionate leave due to his father’s sudden demise. The Brazilian has not been at his best in recent weeks but remains a stalwart figure for his stewardship between the sticks.
Meanwhile, winter recruit Ozan Kabak [knock] would not make it for the weekend fixture. But the return of Nat Phillips and Ben Davies should avoid another bizarre central defensive pairing. Davies and Phillips, however, are unlikely to start together and the latter is likely to get the nod alongside Fabinho even though the Selecao international was not at his best versus the Blues following his return from a long injury layoff.
Andrew Robertson is struggling too due to fatigue and tiredness, yet the Scotsman should retain his place for his artistry and agility from the left-hand flank. Trent Alexander-Arnold must bring in more variation while surging forward from his right-back spot, as well as maintain concentration with timely recoveries and defensive display to help the makeshift backline.
Georginio Wijnaldum is ever-present in Liverpool midfield and the Dutchman should be deployed as a double pivot along with Thiago. The Spaniard is still attuning to the pace of Premier League football and the deeper role should allow him to have the ball on his feet a little longer before finding the right pass upfront.
Roberto Firmino has been miserable as a ‘False 9’. Neither the Brazilian offers a threat inside the box nor does he make his presence known in the middle of the park with the work rate that used to be lauded even a few months back. He, therefore, should drop a bit and feature as a ‘number 10’ with Sadio Mane shifting down the right making way for Diogo Jota to operate from the left.
Klopp faced a lot of criticism for taking Mohamed Salah off on Thursday night in place of Firmino or Mane. The Egyptian is still leading the league’s scoring chart and should now spearhead the attack to exhibit his poaching instincts from in and around the Fulham box.