Liverpool play at Fulham this evening, hoping to maintain their upward momentum in the Premier League. One of the form teams of recent months, Liverpool have moved within one point of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, from a nadir of 13th place in January. The Fulham manager, Mark Hughes, admits that his team, despite their own good form, will face a "difficult challenge" tonight.
The arrival of Kenny Dalglish in January has led to a radical improvement in Liverpool's form. They have won nine of their past 13 league games, including victories over Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City. An unlikely combination of results could still lead to their finishing fourth, although a successful pursuit of fifth, and Europa League qualification, is more likely.
"Liverpool are playing exceptionally well," Hughes said of Liverpool. "It'll be a difficult challenge for us but, from our point of view, we could say exactly the same. We're playing well, we're playing with confidence, so it's going to be a good match-up. We went to Anfield early in Kenny's tenure and played exceptionally well. We were beaten on the day but we were extremely disappointed that we didn't get anything out of that game."
Hughes put the recent successes at Anfield down to the return of Dalglish. "They seem to be enjoying what is presented in front of them and they're responding to Kenny at the moment and getting good results as a consequence."
Hughes went on to praise Liverpool's January transfer dealings, where they sold Fernando Torres to fund the purchases of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll. "Given the way it's panned out for Fernando Torres," he said, "you'd argue at this moment in time it's the better deal, only because the two guys that have gone in at Liverpool seem to have very quickly struck up a partnership and that seems to be working well for Liverpool. There's signs that there's the possibility Carroll and Suarez will obviously continue in the same vein and be a very strong partnership for Liverpool for years to come."
Fulham winger Damien Duff will miss the game after surgery. Clint Dempsey and Brede Hangeland are both expected to return.