Date:Saturday November 18 2006
Fortunately for Fulham, life on the road has been much better this season. Going into Saturday's match with Manchester City, Chris Coleman's side have already matched last season's point total of seven on the road.
On top of that, Fulham have gone five matches unbeaten on the road since an opening day loss to Man U at Olf Trafford. Fulham supporters are hoping their return trip to Manchester will see the team come home with all three points and win to keep them in the top ten of the Premiership.
Last weekend Manchester City earned a point at home in a 0-0 draw with Newcastle United. The defense continues to be fantastic in front of their home crowd at the City of Manchester Stadium. In six matches on their home ground, Manchester City have not conceded a goal.
In those same six matches, they have won three and drawn three. Of those three wins, one was a dramatic 1-0 win over Arsenal in late August. Stuart Pearce will be hoping his defense remains airtight on Saturday against a Fulham team that has proven tough to beat over the past five matches on the road.
While their defense has been rock solid at home, the attack has been lacking to say the least. In the aformentioned six home matches this season, they have only been able to score four goals. Two of those goals came in a 2-0 defeat of West Ham earlier this season.
Fulham enter Saturday's lunchtime kickoff in Manchester sitting 10th in the table on seventeen points. Chris Coleman's side four points clear of their opponents this weekend and would like nothing more than to put further distance between themselves and Manchester City in the table.
Last season the Cottagers pulled off the double against City and will look to continue their winning ways this weekend at the City of Manchester Stadium.
In last weekend's 1-1 draw with Portsmouth, Fulham was saved by the heroics of Antti Niemi. The Finnish keeper made one outstanding save after another to keep the Cottagers in a deadlock and ultimately earning the team a point at Fratton Park.
Week after week Fulham's opponents seem to dominate possession but are unable to score many goals. The Cottagers in turn have taken advantage of their scoring chances and given their opponents all they can handle and then some.
If Chris Coleman decides to stick with the same formation as he played last Saturday against Pompey, look for either Brian McBride or Heidar Helguson to be all alone up front in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Neither McBride nor Helguson excel in the lone striker role, but Coleman seems to favour a more defensive approach, particularly on the road where he can move natural defender Carlos Bocanegra to a defensive midfield role to help not only the defense, but the midfield as well.
I think that Chris Coleman will sacrifice entertainment for a point on the road if that is what his team can get out of this match.
After appearing as a second half substitute, Papa Bouba Diop might be in contention for the starting eleven despite a tough start to the season for the Senegalese international.
Fulham supporters would love nothing more than to see Bouba Diop find his form of two seasons ago when he scored three goals in dramatic fashion against Chelsea, Manchester United and West Brom all in a matter of two months.
Luis Boa Morte might be able to find the back of the net for the first time this season. The Portuguese international, who returned from a fractured cheek bone two weeks ago against Everton, will be looking to open this season's goal scoring account and help his team get a big win on the road.
If Fulham can continue to play solid in defense, I do not see Manchester City having the attacking presence needed to score a goal. At the same time, the City defense, which has proven to be strong at home this season, will be equally as tough for Fulham to crack on Saturday.
Lets hope that we can grind out another good result! A win would be fan bloody tastic but a draw is a more likely outcome!
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