Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday April 25 2008
Fulham travel to Manchester this Saturday to take on a City side they must beat to have any hopes of staying up. Whilst the various combinations of results would suggest all is not lost if we were to only grab a point, the die-hard faithful know that three points is an absolute must or else we`re heading towards the Championship.
Manchester City really don`t have a lot to play for except their pride. Their early season threat to break the hold of the big four sort of fizzled out during a period whereby they couldn`t win for the love of money.
However, they`ll be keen to put in a good finish and Sven Goran Eriksson has suggested his side may have difficulties getting motivated with the following quote,
"If you don`t have a target for those last games and the sun comes out, then everything becomes heavy, but now it`s just to go on fighting and try to beat Fulham."
And I thought some of the quotes from Eric Cantona were strange!
City enter this fixture without their talented young defender, Micah Richards. The England international has a knee injury that is likely to see him miss the remainder of the season. Also out is Nedum Onuoha who dislocated a shoulder in a recent match.
However, Sven will be able to call upon Sun Jihai who has recovered after missing the fixture last week due to illness.
Sven will pick his starting eleven from,
Hart, Corluka, Dunne, Garrido, Jihai, Ball, Ireland, Fernandes, Hamman, Petrov, Johnson, Castillo, Elano, Benjani, Vassel, Caicedo, Geovanni, Sturridge, Isaksson, Williamson, Logan
The Bulgarian has had a good first season in English football and has confirmed what many managers thought, namely that he would have been a good acquisition. Therefore you have to congratulate Sven on getting in there first and taking a gamble. Watch him Fulham he could trouble us down the flank.
Fulham travel to Eastlands with no major injury worries. The only dilemma facing Roy Hodgson is which starting eleven to go for.
After his howler last week, against Liverpool, Kasey Keller will be one looking nervously at the team sheet when Roy pins it to the dressing room wall.
The defence more or less picks itself these days with Konchesky, Stalteri, Hughes and Hangeland the first choice four.
In midfield, Bullard will be an automatic choice along with Murphy and Davies. The other slot could go to Dempsey or Roy may decide to go for an attacking option with Bouazza on the wing in a 4-3-3- formation.
In attack, Roy will no doubt stick with the hard working McBride and will, despite Nevland scoring last week, go for David Healy as his partner.
Some pundits have suggested he`s the only true Premiership class footballer we`ve got. Anyone care to argue?
Last season we suffered a 3-1 reverse at the hands of City with the home side racing into a 3-0 half time lead. This season at Craven Cottage we took part in a six goal thriller that saw the spoils shared with Davies, Bouazza and Murphy seeing their strikes cancelled out by Petrov, Mpenza and another Petrov strike.
Overall, in fixtures in Manchester against City we don`t dfare well with the record standing at,
Premier League - City 2 wins, Fulham 1 win, Draws2
In all fixtures in Manchester against City - City 14 wins, Fulham 4 wins, Draws 4
Mike Dean of the Wirral will have a hand in determining our Premier League fate!
I`m troubled by this one! City have not been in good form in recent weeks but they put Portsmouth to the sword last weekend. Hopefully, that display will see them rest on their laurels and we can sneak three points, however, I fear all we`ll get is a draw!
If we can still somehow stay in the fight to survive, our next fixture could be the mother of all relegation battles with a game against fellow relegation contenders, Birmingham City, at Craven Cottage next Saturday.
Date:Friday April 25 2008
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