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By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - Monday's clash at Craven Cottage is the type of match Liverpool need to win if they are to harbour Champions League aspirations.
It's also the type of game Fulham cannot afford to lose to avoid the threat of relegation as the season progresses.
While catching table-leading Manchester City may be too tall an order for the Reds (6-5-2), they enter this match only five points behind fourth-place Chelsea.
Additionally, manager Kenny Dalglish's squad is brimming with confidence. Liverpool have an eight-match unbeaten streak in league play (4-4-0) and 11 matches overall entering this match. After scraping out a draw versus 10-man Manchester City on Nov. 27, the Reds stormed into the semifinals of the Carling Cup with a 2-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Craig Bellamy set up goals by Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Kelly five minutes apart in the second half for the Reds, who have not lost since a 4-0 thumping administered by Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sept. 18. Dalglish wants Liverpool's current run to be expected as they seek a first top-four finish since the 2008-2009 season.
"We're never going to be happy with a draw against anybody - we're happy with wins," he told the team's official website. "... I think we set our standards a little bit higher than drawing against people.
"I think we deserve better than that, I think we are better than that and it's up to us to stand up and be counted and start winning games."
That kind of play was evident in last season's corresponding fixture, when Liverpool strolled to a 5-2 victory at Craven Cottage, their third win in the last four visits. Rodriguez scored twice in the first seven minutes and completed his hat trick in the 70th minute.
Fulham (2-6-5) are winless in their last three league matches but did secure away points in their last two with draws at Sunderland and Arsenal. The Cottagers settled for one point at Emirates against Arsenal on Nov. 26 after conceding a late goal to Thomas Vermaelen, who gave Fulham a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute with an own goal.
Manager Martin Jol's team enters this match trying to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat to Dutch side FC Twente in Europa League group play. The Cottagers conceded a goal to Marc Janko in the 89th minute, and Andy Johnson was sent off in injury time following his second yellow card.
Costa Rica midfielder Bryan Ruiz, who Fulham signed from Twente in the summer, is confident the Londoners can do well against Liverpool.
"It's going to be a tough game against Liverpool on Monday night but we're at home and we have to try and win against every team no matter who they are," Ruiz told fulhamfc.com.
"We've got a lot of good quality players that can create chances and score goals so I'm sure we'll do much better and improve. I'll be doing my best to do that."
Fulham enter the match with some injury concerns. Midfielder Damien Duff aggravated a calf injury that sidelined him two weeks earlier this season, though Moussa Dembele is expected to play despite coming off late in Thursday's loss.
The Reds will be without Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season after injuring the anterior cruciate ligament against Chelsea.
Liverpool have not won four consecutive league matches on the road since May 2009, while Fulham have won just one of their last eight (1-4-3) at Craven Cottage.
Updated December 4, 2011