With Spurs inability to beat Blackpool (though we shouldn't crow too much about that, I guess), Gareth Bale's injury, City's slip up, today's game actually has more context to it than simply trying to finish the season with momentum for the next. Win today, two points clear of Spurs with a better goal difference and their visit to Anfield next weekend. All right by me. It would also put Liverpool only four back of City for fourth, as far fetched as that's getting. But who is totally putting it past City to have an epic collapse? Exactly.
There's really only one change that Kenny can consider, and that's bringing in Carroll for Maxi, and switching to the 4-2-2-2/4-3-3 that we've seen when he's in the lineup. The Big, Lager-loving Geordie should be fit after another week, and with Liverpool being away from home and more likely to need a Route 1 outlet at times, the guess here is that he comes in. And though Maxi has been pouring in the goals the past two games, we'll stick with our company line on him. He sucks. And that will never change.
Fulham have been pretty spiky at home this season, only losing three of their 17 league dates. Only Spurs, City, and somehow West Ham have gotten out of The Cottage with three points this season. The problem with bringing in Carroll today is that the Cottagers are one of the few squads around equipped to handle this kind of threat. Brede Hangeland -- who should have been an Arsenal player ages ago -- and Aaron Hughes are built for the X-wing fight that is taking on Andy.
Up front is Deuce Deuce, otherwise known as Clint Dempsey to the non-members of Sam's Army. Demp is having his best season abroad, with 12 league goals and 15 overall. I thought last summer that Dempsey would have been a perfect signing for Liverpool (not knowing about an agreement between Hodgson and Fulham that only the Circus Act of Paul Konchesky was allowed to transfer, and not knowing that Hodgson didn't know just how badly Fulham wanted him off the team), as he could play all across the front line. Maybe he's still that, though he's getting up there in years. But for today, he carries the main threat.
Damien Duff and Zoltan Gera are missing, and Bobby Zamora has been limited to only sub-duty since returning from a broken leg. However, he did start last week in Dempsey's absence so look for those two to pair up. A wily veteran like Simon Davies will assuredly test the young Flanagan as much as he can. In the middle, Steve Sidwell and Danny Murphy may constitute the ugliest engine room in the league, but Murphy can still pick a pass and Sidwell still runs tirelessly. This is not an insignificant test.
Fulham is coming off the back of two 3-0 whitewashings of Bolton (that's pretty much waved the white flag since their FA Cup semifinal capitulation) and Sunderland (the embodiment of a white flag). Combined with their home record, this would be an excellent time for Dalglish to show he's at least close to sussing out our road form.