Fulham - Seven Fateful Days!
Injuries and continuing poor away form have seen Fulham's positive start to the season go by the boards as we have now slipped into the bottom half of the table.
Our position in eleventh is somewhat deceiving as in reality we sit only seven points above the relegation places.
Twelfth place Stoke have two games in hand on the Cottagers, and by the time this article is published, may be well on their way to trading positions with us as they meet Sunderland this evening.
I'm not terribly disappointed with our loss to Villa at Craven Cottage this weekend. They are simply a better team. I did, however, expect to improve our away record by winning at least one of the away matches during the five-match losing skid.
No one could've thought we'd pick up points against Chelsea or Spurs, but not getting anything from Stoke or Blackburn was surprising and, as a result, we've put ourselves in a very precarious position.
The next three matches, spaced over seven days will determine whether we move towards the end of the season in a comfortable mid-table position or if we will once again find ourselves drifting towards another relegation dogfight.
On paper, it looks promising - Portsmouth and Burnley at home, with an away trip to Bolton sandwiched in between.
There is absolutely no reason we can't take nine points from these fixtures.
Portsmouth are begging to be relegated. The club is in complete disarray. Failure to take advantage of the situation is simply unacceptable. Even with our injuries woes, we are a better side and should come away with a comfortable win.
Defensively, Pompey are solid enough, but they have enormous problems scoring goals; particularly away from Fratton Park. They've scored only five goals on their travels this season. A 1-0 Fulham win will do nicely.
Bolton surprisingly took a point from us on their visit to Craven Cottage earlier in the season in a lackluster 1-1 draw. Like Fulham, Bolton are on poor run of form that has seen them win only once in their past six league matches, but they will be difficult to beat at the Reebok.
If Fulham can regain the defensive organization that served us so well last season, this could be a great opportunity to claim our second away win of the campaign. A 1-1 draw is in order, but a 2-1 Fulham win would be well received, indeed!
Burnley, as so many newly-promoted clubs do, have hit the Premier League wall and after a bright start to the season have begun to slide down the table. One has to admire there never-say-die, hard-charging style, but defensively they hemorrhage goals; particularly away from Turf Moor. They've conceded a league high thirty-five goals on the road. There can be no excuses for not coming away with all three points. If we can beat Man United 3-0 at Craven Cottage, we can do the same versus Burnley.
So, there you have it. Fulham can undo the disappointment and frustration of the past month by rising to the occasion and playing the type of football of which we all know they're capable.
Nine points is well within the realm of possibility. Six points is a reasonable expectation and would suffice. Four points and below will surely usher in feeling of uncertainty for many of the Fulham faithful, including myself.
I don't think our season will be imperiled if we don't get at least six points from the three fixtures, but losing to Portsmouth or Burnley at Craven Cottage might suggest that this recent run of bad form is more than just a blip, and that even winning home matches against teams lower in the table is far from a certainty, and that WILL cause me some concern.
C'mon lads. Let's get that forty point mark before our visit to Old Trafford in mid-March and let us fans bask in the glow of another season without relegation fears!