I had some thoughts on the coming match this week, one which we need to win (like every match we play, but this one more than others, perhaps). We play Fulham this week, a team that's struggling to escape the drop, and is the third match in a series of matches stretching up to Manchester United where we need to get full points. I'm going to have to jump through hoops to watch this one, as I'm in North Oxford, where soccer is watched by decidedly the wrong sort and is thus avoided, especially when our boys are giving those criminals down South a sound thrashing.* However, watch it I will, and for a few reasons.
*not my opinion, mind you, just the opinion of the man who owns the closest pub1. First off, Fulham is a quality side with a smart owner, competent management, and a few nice pieces, at least one of which Liverpool might be pursuing, which leads me to two-
2. Clint Dempsey. Clint Dempsey to Liverpool is currently the rumor that Hughes cannot kill (can't tell if soccernet is serious about this one, but they keep bringing it up). I would like this, despite the fact that Dempsey is not as young as we would like, because he's the opposite footed winger we lack, and he's the United States' best player right now. You want to see the game grow in this country? Put him in Fenway in the summer in a Liverpool shirt. I've been following the guy since he was Furman's lone bright spot, and would like to see him on our team.
3. We need three points, and Fulham's away form is horrendous, meaning we might just get them. I was crunching some numbers- Fulham averages .75 goals per away game, but they've only scored 2 in their last five and taken only 2 points, despite managing decent possession (never less than 45%) and pass numbers and completion rate (never less than 67%, and four matches have been above 72%). This means they have a decent defense, but lack a cutting edge that goes to goal. Furthermore, Dempsey is their leading scorer with 5 goals in all competitions, underscoring their poor performance in front of goal. If we can't beat these guys at home, I don't know who we can beat.
4. Maybe Roy will put Torres and Babel out there together, or maybe play 3-4-3, or do something that puts pressure on a team that gives up nervy goals and has no teeth. Maybe I'll get an SLS for Christmas, and maybe Big Sam is really Santa Claus. Well, it's worth tuning in to find out.
5. If all else fails, we'll get to watch more Nando looking like he got coal in his stocking and Gerrard acting like Roy said he prefers Peter Gabriel.