LONDON (SE) - Two clubs in uncomfortable league positions meet at Anfield on Saturday, when Liverpool host Fulham.
Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool side are 12th on 22 points, while Fulham are two points and one place behind in the table, but both clubs will be expecting top-half finishes come May.
The Reds face four winnable matches in 12 days over the Christmas period, and were handed a boost ahead of that run of games with news that star youngster Raheem Sterling is close to signing a contract extension.
"We were always calm. I speak a lot with Raheem and his representatives and there has never been any issue from their side," said Reds boss Rodgers. "It was just making sure that we take care in terms of the financial and football plan for the player. This was about a young player who has rocketed from playing in the youth teams and the reserves into becoming a full England international, so a lot has happened in his young life and it was just about making sure that there was that protection for him going forward.
"I have always been confident that this was going to be the best place for him. The kid is very focused and devoted to Liverpool. His representatives know this is the best place for him."
Visitors Fulham have just one win in their last nine Premier League games, and have also managed just a single win in their nine matches on the road this season. Martin Jol's side have found the net in just one of their last three away games, and the Dutch manager is looking to strengthen his squad with some inventive signings in the upcoming January transfer window.
"We showed that we are able to get players in, even when they are not on the market because if players are on the market it is different," said Jol. "If you were president, chairman or chief executive at another club you never try and get rid of your best players - so we have to try and be inventive.
"We have to try to get the players who are not playing well or not fitting in at their other clubs, but they have to be better than the players we have got so we will come up with one or two solutions. It is not an easy situation but we know maybe one or two players who are having problems at their clubs - we always look to strengthen and if it possible we will do it."
Liverpool are without Fabio Borini (ankle) and Martin Kelly (knee), while Jose Enrique is doubtful with a hamstring problem. Fulham have doubts over Sascha Riether (hamstring) and Mahamdou Diarra (knee), while Bryan Ruiz (hamstring) and Simon Davies (hip) remain out until January.
Fulham did the double over Liverpool last season, winning 1-0 in both games. Clint Dempsey scored the winner at Craven Cottage, while Daniel Agger's early own goal was the decisive moment at Anfield. Last year's win in Liverpool was Fulham's first at the ground in 31 attempts, with Liverpool out-scoring the Cottagers 56-16 in the history of the Anfield fixture.