PreviewThe lowdown on Fulham
Liverpool get their 2022-23 Premier League season under way against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday lunchtime.
Here is our lowdown on the newly promoted Cottagers…
Marco Silva took the reins at Fulham last summer and led the west Londoners to an immediate return to the Premier League.
Having taken over a side that had been relegated in 2020-21, Silva masterminded an impressive second-tier title triumph.
With new Liverpool signing Fabio Carvalho and former Red Harry Wilson key attacking forces, the free-flowing Cottagers amassed 90 points and scored 106 goals while doing so. Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic plundered a record-breaking total of 43 league goals.
Formerly of clubs including Hull City, Watford and Everton, 45-year-old Silva will be determined to break Fulham’s habit of yo-yoing between the Premier League and the Championship.
On each of the last two occasions they have been promoted to the top flight – in 2018 and 2020 – relegation has followed a year later.
Goalkeeper Bernd Leno and midfielders Joao Palhinha and Andreas Pereira headline Fulham’s transfer incomings so far this summer.
Portugal international Palhinha - a ball-winning ‘number six’ - arrived from Sporting CP, while more attack-minded Pereira joined after eight years as a Manchester United player, and Leno represents their most recent arrival having sealed a move from Arsenal on Tuesday night.
The Cottagers bolstered their defensive options by recruiting full-back Kevin Mbabu from VfL Wolfsburg and have signed winger Manor Solomon on a season-long loan from Shakhtar Donetsk.
“Joao can add some aggressiveness,” Silva stated.
“Kevin will help us to be competitive on the right. Andreas is a quality player, he can play different positions. He knows the Premier League. It’s important we add Premier League experience.”
Fulham head into Saturday’s opener having played four summer friendlies.
Silva’s side competed in the Algarve Trophy with mixed results: a 2-0 win over Nice being followed by a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Benfica.
A 3-1 victory against Estoril Praia rounded off their tour to Portugal, before their fourth and final pre-season outing, versus Villarreal at home on Sunday, finished 1-1.
Early team news
Wilson, Nathaniel Chalobah and Joe Bryan all missed the meeting with Villarreal.
“Harry Wilson and Nathaniel Chalobah are both injured. We’re waiting on the medical staff but it doesn’t look good. Harry’s injury is in his knee but we’ll wait for the medical staff,” Silva said post-match.
The clubs have met 71 times in total and Fulham came out on top 1-0 in their most recent clash – a behind-closed-doors encounter at Anfield in March 2021.
Earlier in the 2020-21 season, Mohamed Salah’s penalty earned Liverpool a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage.
Back in 2018-19, the Reds did the double over the west Londoners.
Goals from Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri secured a 2-0 home win, before a late spot-kick by James Milner was the difference in the capital after former Liverpool man Ryan Babel had equalised Sadio Mane’s opener.