Liverpool team news: Expected XI vs Fulham as Diogo Jota seeks to stop Reds’ Anfield rot

Liverpool: Klopp doesn't fear exodus if they miss top four

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Liverpool are looking to end the worst run in the club’s history at Anfield as they face relegation-threatened Fulham this afternoon (2pm). The Reds have lost five on the bounce in the Premier League on home soil to slide down the league table, leaving their hopes of Champions League qualification under huge threat. Express Sport looks at how they might line up for the visit of the Cottagers, who are in desperate need of points in their battle for survival.

Goalkeeper: Alisson

Alisson returned between the sticks in the defeat to Chelsea on Thursday night and will start again here.

The Brazilian kept 21 clean sheets in 2018-19 and 15 last year but has only five in 22 league games so far this season.

The 28-year-old will hope to keep Fulham at bay but Scott Parker’s side have taken the fifth most shots in the league in 2021, meaning it could be a busy afternoon for the Liverpool No 1.

Defence: Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson

With injuries constantly crippling Liverpool at the back, Ozan Kabak – on loan from Bundesliga basement dwellers Schalke – is the latest to pick up an unspecified minor problem.

Though Kabak is unavailable, the reliable Nathaniel Phillips is fit again and should replace the Turk to partner Fabinho in central defence.

January addition Ben Davies will return to the substitutes’ bench but is highly unlikely to start alongside Phillips, which would allow Fabinho to play in central midfield, as Klopp hinted in his pre-match press conference.

He explained after leaving him out of the match-day squad against Chelsea and Sheffield United: “For Ben it’s not easy in our situation; we brought him in and he has to adapt and all of these kind of things. He is a really good player.

“If you bring one new player and then a second new player it changes everything, so we have to see which decision we make for it.”

In the full-back roles, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold will continue although the right-back has been well below par this season and struggled on Thursday.

Midfield: Thiago, Wijnaldum, Keita

Liverpool’s midfield have been significantly off the pace in recent home matches in particular and have failed to offer their usual pressing threat as well as struggling on the ball.

But injuries to their centre-backs and Jordan Henderson mean there isn’t much scope for Klopp to switch things up here.

Gini Wijnaldum would benefit from a rest but Klopp may not be willing to line up with all of Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Curtis Jones in the middle, given none are defensive-minded midfielders.

Instead, Wijnaldum could operate as the No 6 yet again while Thiago, who has also struggled for form recently, may also keep his place in the side.

Jones, despite being the most in-form of Liverpool’s midfielders, could instead be the one to drop out to allow Keita to feature.

Klopp admitted it would have made sense to bring on the Guinean against Chelsea but instead he plucked for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Yet Oxlade-Chamberlain made barely any impact in midweek and so is unlikely to make the starting line-up here, instead acting as an option in reserve alongside Jones, who could instead start against RB Leipzig in the Champions League next Wednesday.

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Attack: Mane, Salah, Jota

Liverpool’s front three are another department who have been nowhere near their best and Sadio Mane served up arguably his worst ever Liverpool performance against Chelsea.

Roberto Firmino was again completely ineffectual with the Brazilian, like Mane and Alexander-Arnold, another to have suffered a season way off his highest standards.

Given Mane’s greater goalscoring output though, Firmino could be the one to drop to the bench to allow Diogo Jota to return.

The Portugal international was bright in his cameo off the bench against Chelsea and could line up on the right-hand side, with Mohamed Salah leading the line.

The Egyptian was brought off after just 62 minutes last time out and was clearly unhappy about it, and will be looking to send a message to Klopp with a strong performance here.

Salah is the Premier League’s highest goalscorer with 17 but has not scored in open play at Anfield since his deflected strike in the 2-1 win over Tottenham on December 16.

Mane is also in need of an improved display with Jota, who was in brilliant form pre-injury, back to fitness and hoping to be Liverpool’s leading man again.

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