Last Updated: 09/11/18 4:19pm
Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic finds himself increasingly under pressure ahead of a trip to third-placed Liverpool on Sunday.
Fulham go into the game bottom of the Premier League following Monday’s 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield, where the Cottagers managed only one shot on target over the entire 90 minutes.
Jokanovic did not mince his words when previewing the trip to Anfield, their last game ahead of the international break, and laid the blame on the efforts of his players.
“We chose an ugly way to lose the game,” he said. “You must be proud, competitive and fight at the last moment and make extra effort.
“We are right now not showing this quality or effort, we must wake up and when we lose the game we must know how we lost it; we cannot sell our skin so cheap.
“A few times before games I say my team is ready for the fight, but are not showing effort or ambition and we must change this.
“We must accept this situation and go outside our comfort zone, because this didn’t bring us a good result.
“We must shake our hands, push harder; I don’t believe this is impossible.”
Jurgen Klopp lamented the atmosphere around his Liverpool side despite their bright start to the season, with 27 points from their first 11 games.
Klopp’s side have been less successful in Europe, losing two of their four Champions League games so far, but the German said their successes overall had been overshadowed.
“The season so far-wise, points-wise in the Premier League, has been really successful,” he said.
“But it doesn’t really feel like that because there are two reasons in comparison with last year: free-flowing football in a few games and Man City and maybe Chelsea and a few others play a very good season as well.
“It feels a bit like this season can only be a success if we become champions this year. In a year our competitors are the champions of last year, the champions of two years ago, a more refreshed Arsenal and a more experienced Tottenham and Manchester United.
“That’s a really tough job but we have no problem with that, we go for everything. We have to build on our situation, we have to get better, to get more confidence out of the season.”
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and fellow midfielder Naby Keita are both available as Liverpool welcome Fulham to Anfield at midday on Sunday.
The pair have been sidelined for a number of weeks due to hamstring injuries but will be included in the squad alongside defender Joe Gomez, who has been struggling with an Achilles issue recently.
Xherdan Shaqiri will also come into contention, having been left at home for the Champions League trip to Red Star Belgrade in an attempt to reduce local hostilities. The 27-year-old, of Kosovar-Albanian descent, angered Serbian fans with his ‘Albanian Eagle’ celebration at the World Cup.
Fulham are expected to be without Kevin McDonald and Joe Bryan for Sunday’s fixture at Liverpool.
Both are struggling with hamstring injuries and are likely to miss out.
Cottagers boss Slavisa Jokanovic is expected to make further changes to his team following their disappointing defeat at Huddersfield on Monday.
- Liverpool have won their last four Premier League matches against Fulham, though this is their first league meeting since February 2014.
- In all competitions, Fulham have managed just one win in their 33 visits to Liverpool (D9 L23), scoring just four times in their last 17 games at Anfield.
- Fulham have won just one of their 54 away league games on Merseyside against Liverpool and Everton (D11 L42), a 1-0 win against Liverpool in May 2012.
- Liverpool have won all eight home Premier League games under Jurgen Klopp against newly-promoted teams, scoring 25 goals and conceding just three.
- Fulham have taken one point from their last 18 Premier League games against the ‘big six’ sides (W0 D1 L17), losing all three games this season by an aggregate score of 2-11.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 26 Premier League home games, their longest such run since August 2009 (31 games).
- Coming into the weekend, Fulham are one of just three teams yet to keep a clean sheet in English league football this season (along with Macclesfield and Sheffield Wednesday).
- In their three Premier League games immediately following a Champions League fixture this season, Liverpool have scored exactly the same number of goals as they did in their European match (3 vs PSG/Southampton, 0 vs Napoli/Man City, 4 vs Red Star/Cardiff).
- Daniel Sturridge has had a hand in five goals in his last three Premier League games against Fulham for Liverpool (4 goals, 1 assist).
- For Liverpool in the Premier League, Mohamed Salah is averaging a goal or assist every 66 minutes against newly promoted teams (4 goals, 5 assists in 592 minutes).
If there was a round of Champions League games to follow this match Liverpool may have rested some players, but with this being the final game before the international break, they could run amok. Fulham are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. They started the season scoring and letting goals in for fun, then they shut up shop at the back and never looked like scoring.
They’ve got to get that balance right sooner rather than later, but you couldn’t have asked for a worse game than a trip to Anfield. This is the time where managers under pressure worry about the clubs using the two-week period to get someone else in. Slavisa Jokanovic will be worried, especially after losing at Huddersfield. It’s games like those that are Fulham’s bread and butter because they are not expected to beat sides in the top six. They are in trouble.
PAUL PREDICTS: 5-0 (11/1 with Sky Bet)