Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday March 21 2008
S t James Park
Fulham take the long trip to St James Park this Saturday knowing a win will throw the race to avoid relegation wide open. However, to do so they`ll need to win their first away game in the Premier League since September 2006 which was incidentally at, St James Park!
After taking all the three points on offer against Everton on our last outing, confidence is high. However, it`s essential that we don`t get carried away, in the cauldron of a pumped up atmosphere, therefore it may be something akin to a cautious approach required.
Relegation will not be settled tomorrow and Roy Hodgson has spoken about that very fact ahead of the game remarking,
"I think it will go down to the last day - there are so many teams involved."
"I can`t remember there being this many teams before. There might have been five sometimes for three spots but this year there are more than five involved. Everyone knows you can get on a good run and shoot above everyone as West Ham showed last year."
An under-pressure Kevin Keegan, a man who was welcomed as the return of the messiah, will be without Shay Given, James Milner, Emre and Stephen Carr.
Newcastle (from): Harper, Forster, Beye, Enrique, Taylor, Faye, Cacapa, Edgar, Butt, N'Zogbia, Duff, Barton, Geremi, Owen, Smith, Martins, Viduka, Carroll.
The striker scored the goal that rescued a point for Newcastle against Birmingham last time out and the striker looked to be almost back to his predatory best.
Roy Hodgson will have something of a dilemma to consider. He knows that it is essential that we get something out of the game but maybe a pint would be a good result. Therefore, we have to consider whether Roy opts for a 4-4-2 formation, like last weekend, or whether he should go for a more cautious 4-5-1 formation with a lone striker. Our feelings are that he`ll opt for the latter with Brian McBride ploughing a lone furrow up front.
Fulham (from): Keller, Konchesky, Johnson, Stalteri, Hughes, McBride, Bullard, Davies, Andreasen, Murphy, Hangeland, Batista, Volz, Healy, Bocanegra, Dempsey.
Newcastle and a packed St James Park is just the sort of arena that`ll bring the best out of our Jimmy. Wouldn`t it be nice if he were to pop home one of those trademark free kicks to silence the huge support.
If we`re going to take all three points we`ll need to, as mentioned before, end that awful away record that stretches back to September 2006. However, perhaps we should take heart from the fact that Newcastle themselves have not won since December 15th last year in the Premier League.
Looking through the record books, in Premier League matches we`ve done surprisingly well at Newcastle with 2 wins, 2defeats and 2 draws.
The man chosen to officiate the match that could go some way to playing a part in our Premier League future is Alan Wiley.
This is a hard one to call. For once a tip of us winning isn`t based purely on optimism. Newcastle, under Keegan, have looked very poor and it wouldn`t surprise me if we finally ended our long barren away run. Therefore, with a huge smile firmly fixed to my face, I can see a 2-1 win to Fulham, possibly with the winner come late on - mystic Meg or what!
After the long trip to St James Park we take on another of our relegation zone companions in the form of Derby County - yet another away trip. Now that is a game we must win!
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Date:Friday March 21 2008
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