Liverpool vs Fulham looks like being a stone cold, cast iron home banker. You can get odds of 30/1 for Fulham to win on Sunday. Yet anyone who witnessed the Reds’ abject efforts in Belgrade on Tuesday night will think the away side’s chances are considerably better than that.
Even so, when looking at the expected goal data for 2018/19, it’s easy to see why the bookmakers have come up with the prices they have. You can work out the percentage chance of any score line using the statistics, and doing so suggests a 9-0 Liverpool win is more likely than a 0-0 draw.
The perils of a small sample; 11 games isn’t enough to use to make a realistic prediction. However, it certainly illustrates the difference between the teams when it comes to the underlying numbers this season.
Fulham go into the weekend rock bottom of the Premier League table. This is mainly down to them taking just one point on the road this season. Defeats at Tottenham and Manchester City were to be expected, but losses at Cardiff and Huddersfield could prove hugely costly. It may just be that those two sides will have dragged Fulham down with them thanks to those results.
It’s not as if the Cottagers were incredibly strong last season either; their expected goal difference was only the sixth best in the Championship. Converting a 62-49 expected goals record into 79 for and 46 against in actual goals propelled them to third in the table. Fulham spent around £100 million in the summer, but it’s still a huge gap to bridge.
If they are to have any chance at Anfield, they need to get their record signing on the ball. Jean Michael Seri has created 11 chances on the road this season – no other Fulham player has more than six to his name – so he unsurprisingly lead’s Fulham’s attack chart for away matches.
Getting the ball will be a big part of the problem though. Slaviša Jokanović’s side only had 40 percent possession at Spurs, and just 35 at the Etihad. Liverpool, by contrast, have attempted at least 60 percent of the total passes in every home game bar their clash with the champions, and equalled their record under Klopp with 80 percent possession in their last home game against Cardiff.
With the Reds guaranteed to have so much of the ball, they need to ensure their best players get on it. Enter Shaqiri. The Kosovo born Swiss international was left out of the trip to face Crvena Zvezda. Who knows if he could have rescued a dire Liverpool performance, but he’s certainly a man in form.
Shaqiri is Klopp’s top attacking performer in the league at Anfield this season on a points-per-minute basis, albeit he has only amassed 90 minutes there so far. He simply has to come back into Klopp’s XI for this match.
Liverpool may need to be patient. It might pay off to invite Fulham on to them a little, as only Palace have conceded more counter attack goals than they have in 2018/19. The Reds sealed their win at Selhurst Park in that fashion, and they may have opportunities to do so here too. A 9-0 prediction is obviously going far, far too far, but don’t be surprised if Liverpool bounce back from their Serbian sorrows with a comfortable win here.