Fulham Counting On Another Favour From Liverpool

 

It was only just under a year ago that Liverpool was celebrating their Champions League semi-final success over Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. Four days later, and with the final against AC Milan in Athens no doubt in mind, Rafael Benitez sent out a team to face relegation-threatened Fulham that contained just two players – Jose “Pepe” Reina and Jermaine Pennant - who had started the game at Anfield against Chelsea
 
The subsequent 1:0 win for Fulham, courtesy of a Clint Dempsey goal, went a long way to helping Fulham survive the drop and probably even further towards securing Lawrie Sanchez the manager’s job on a full-time basis.
 
Given the shambles Sanchez made of the job, particularly given the not inconsiderable amount he spent on new recruits over the summer, perhaps The Cottagers have been paying for the “favour” that Liverpool did them last term ever since.
 
Even so, Sanchez’s successor as Fulham boss, Roy Hodgson, saw his team keep their survival hopes alive with their obligatory one away league victory of the season (a 2:0 win at Reading) at the weekend, ensuring that the Londoners go into their remaining four games of the season with their survival hopes still just about flickering.
 
With Liverpool again facing Chelsea in Champions League semi-final action, this time a few days after their trip to Craven Cottage, it is safe to assume that Benitez will not be putting out his strongest starting XI for the Fulham match. It could be argued that Liverpool has yet to secure a top four finish, but that didn’t stop Benitez sending out a decidedly under-strength team for the recent Premiership game at Arsenal that was sandwiched between the two legs of the Champions League quarter-final tie against The Gunners. 
 
There is far more for Fulham to do this season than last if they are to somehow scramble clear of the drop-zone, but the fixtures have fallen quite kindly for them during the run-in. They have yet to make the most of their good fortune on that front, but with their remaining games being away to a Manchester City team who seem to be already thinking about their summer break, a potential decider at home to Birmingham City and, finally, a trip to Fratton Park to face a Portsmouth side who might just have a trip to Wembley on their mind, Hodgson’s men can hardly complain about the fixture list.
 

Fulham really need to follow up Saturday’s win with another victory and the 3-1 available with Bet365 on a home victory looks like a price that may well shorten considerably in the run up to Liverpool’s visit at the weekend.

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it is safe to assume that Benitez will not be putting out his strongest starting XI for the Fulham match"


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