Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Wednesday October 21 2009
After two Europa League fixtures against the less glamorous clubs in our group, although they may well say the same thing about us, we prepare to welcome one of the giants of Italian football to Craven Cottage.
AS Roma are a club steeped in tradition, a tradition that has seen them rule the roost in Italian football whilst also competing in many a Champions League campaign.
However, under the leadership of the former Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri, they in a period of transition (as opposed to having fallen from grace!) and they threaten to be our most dangerous opposition so far in the Europa League.
Our chances of getting a result may well have been slightly affected by having to play on Monday night but didn`t clubs used to play twice in three days in the good old days. Perhaps rather than having to play on Monday we should mourn the consequences.
An injury sustained by Danny Murphy will keep him out of the fixture and Simon Davies is another, courtesy of the removal of a piece of floating bone from his foot who will not be in contention. Dickson Etuhu remains doubtful and Andrew Johnson is unfit which leaves Roy Hodgson with a depleted squad.
Normally, Roy would play a shadow eleven in this competition, giving those members of his squad who rarely get a start some action but will he do so on Thursday night? Has he the scope to do so with his squad stretched or is this fixture the one he`d like to stamp his mark on in this new format of European football?
Whatever happens with regards to team selection, I believe we`re still in the same boat as the last fixture with no cover (thanks UEFA) for Mark Schwarzer with David Stockdale injured and Pascal Zuberbuhler not registered. If so, keep your fingers crossed that Mark suffers no unfortunate injuries.
Taking a total shot in the dark, because as we all know Roy can be highly contentious with team selections for the Europa League, we have a suspicion it`ll be a strong Fulham eleven which could well resemble:-
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Kelly, Gera, Baird, Greening, Duff, Kamara and Zamora.
As for AS Roma, rumours suggest they`ll be without the legendary Totti who is injured, although Bjorne Helga Riise may well, if selected, get the opportunity to play against his brother the ex-Liverpool defender, Jon Arne Riise. Also likely to star for AS Roma are the Frech forward Jeremy Menez, Mirko Vucinic and Julio Baptista.
As for our prediction?
We`ll go for a very narrow Fulham win, 1-0!
Date:Wednesday October 21 2009
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