Though last in the Premier League, Fulham will face high-flying Liverpool at Craven Cottage Wednesday with renewed confidence after securing a hard-earned point at Old Trafford over the weekend.
Fulham (6-2-17) ended a run of four straight league defeats with a battling 2-2 draw at Manchester United on Sunday. Steve Sidwell put the Cottagers in front in the 19th minute very much against the run of play, and they managed to hold on to their lead until the 78th minute when Robin van Persie scored for United.
Michael Carrick then hit what looked like a winner for the Red Devils only for Fulham substitute Darren Bent to head home a stoppage-time equaliser.
Fulham head coach and former United assistant Rene Meulensteen was quick to praise his players after the match.
"It felt like a win afterwards," Meulensteen told his club's official website. "We worked our socks off - everybody did what we wanted them to do. We worked hard in the week and we got reward at the end of it.
"Liverpool is a massive, massive game, but these players want to play in these sorts of games. It's the most exciting league and you have to step up for the big boys. Hopefully this gives us a good base to kick on."
Liverpool (15-5-5) extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six matches when they demolished Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield on Saturday. The Gunners started the day on top of the table but found themselves 4-0 down to the Reds after just 20 minutes, as Martin Skrtel, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge all found the back of the net, with Skrtel bagging a brace. Sterling added a fifth after the break before Mikel Arteta pulled a goal back for Arsenal from the penalty spot.
Liverpool remain in fourth place on 50 points, six behind new leaders Chelsea, and manager Brendan Rodgers refuses to talk up his side's chances of winning the title.
"We've still got a long way to go for me, in terms of where we want to go and where we want to be, but across the board it's very pleasing," he told Liverpoolfc.com. "We've got so many young players, who are still growing and developing and our squad is small. So I feel that we've still got work to do. But when we play like that and perform like that, people are obviously going to ask the question (can you win the league?).
"We're five points behind Arsenal, four behind Manchester City and six behind Chelsea and we still have them to play here at Anfield. But the main objective is just to finish as high as we possibly can and let's see where that takes us. It was another wonderful result for us and what was particularly pleasing was the performance. It was an incredible display from a group of young men who are growing and getting better all the time."
Liverpool hammered Fulham 4-0 in the reverse fixture at Anfield in November when Martin Jol was still manager of the west London club. The Reds took the lead on 23 minutes courtesy of an own goal from Fernando Amorebieta, before Skrtel and Luis Suarez added two more before the interval. Suarez scored his second of the match on 54 minutes to complete the scoring.
The Reds did the double over the Cottagers last term, with another 4-0 win at Anfield before a 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage.