Liverpool v Fulham
Saturday, 22nd December 2012; 5:30pm Kick Off
Liverpool were left stunned by Aston Villa in their last game, coming away on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat. A consolation goal from captain Steven Gerrard was little more than that as Liverpool were left outclassed by Villa.
Gerrard has once again been proving this season that he is the complete midfielder, having delivered 63 crosses (highest among all midfielders), completed 513 passes in the opposition half (5th among midfielders), winning 69.7% of tackles and getting 61.5% of shots on target.
Saying that, Liverpool did not give Villa an easy ride, and Bradley Guzan put in the busiest goalkeeping performance of the season, being forced in to 16 saves by Liverpool during the game.
Joe Allen moved up to top spot in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this week after 6.86 miles against Villa took his total for the season to 108.19. Goalscorer Steven Gerrard also moved up to fourth with his tally now at 105.55 miles.
Jonjo Shelvey had another two efforts at goal without scoring against Villa, taking him clear at the top of the rankings for most shots without a goal. Shelvey has now had 22 shots without a goal, with 63.6% on target.
Stewart Downing is looking likely to leave Liverpool in January after being given permission to do so by Brendan Rodgers. Downing is without a goal or assist in 504 minutes this season, but he is not the only Liverpool player needing a change in fortune. Joe Allen has played more minutes than any other midfielder without a goal or assist with 1606 minutes, and Jesus Fernandez Saez has the same title among the strikers with 441 minutes played without a goal or assist.
Fulham lost out to West London neighbours QPR in their last game, with a late goal by Mladen Petric not enough to earn them a point.
Petric’s goal moves him closer to the leagues most lethal goalscorers. His 6th goal of the season means Petric averages a goal every 121 minutes this season, just behind Javier Hernandez who has scored one every 87.8 minutes and Edin Dzeko who has scored one every 106.5 minutes. Petric is an industry best price of 10/3 with 888sport.com to score any time against Liverpool.
Liverpool will need to be at their best to get past the tacking skills of Fulham. Sascha Reither has the cleanest tackling rate in the league, making 42 tackles and giving away just 6 fouls, a rate of one foul every 7 tackles attempted. Reither also wins 78.5% of the tackles he attempts, meaning Stevie Gerrard may struggle to win the dangerous free kick opportunities he thrives on.
Steve Sidwell will also give Liverpool limited time on the ball, having won more tackles than any other player this season with 51 tackles won, from 90 attempted.