Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday May 2 2008
We have two fixtures to go, Birmingham at home this Saturday and Portsmouth away next weekend. We know that if we are to survive in the Premier League then we must take all three points off Birmingham tomorrow. Anything less will see us more-or-less relegated to the Championship. Indeed, if we were to lose to Birmingham on Saturday and other results went against us, we`d be relegated. Therefore, a win is the only option even if it does mean it`ll be our first back-to-back Premier League wins in seventy fixtures.
The Fulham camp must be quietly confident of beating Birmingham on Saturday. After coming back from 2-0 down to beat Manchester City 3-2 last weekend, confidence should be good in the camp as the game approaches.
However, the opposition manager, Alex McLeish has an unusual take on our survival campaign more or less intimating that we`ve breached a point whereby our approach must now change, see what you think,
"They are now in a situation where they must win the game."
"In the past few weeks I am sure Roy has said to the - We have nothing to lose, just go for it."
"He has probably said - If we lose it, then lose it going forward and don`t worry about leaving yourselves open."
"But their mindset will have changed now and we have to get out there with our sleeves rolled up and show how much it means to us as individuals. "
Roy Hodgson has something of a selection dilemma as we head towards our penultimate fixture. Doe he stick with Healy and McBride up front or does he go with Nevland and Kamara both of whom have made stunning impacts when coming off the bench in recent fixtures? The waters are further muddied by the announcement that our veteran Finnish striker Jari Litmanen is also available for selection. With our future so precariously perched, Roy knows he cannot afford to get it wrong.
We here at Vital Fulham suggest that Roy will not veer too far away from the team that started at the City of Manchester Stadium last weekend. Despite going 2-0 down they created numerous chances and were only foiled by the brilliance of the City keeper, Joe Hart.
Therefore, for the most vital game of the season, we suspect that Roy will go with the following eleven,
Keller, Stalteri, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Murphy, Bullard, Dempsey, Davies, McBride and Healy.
However, we could be wrong!
Something of an unsung hero in recent weeks. Many expressed their surprise when we signed him in the summer but Danny has knuckled down and given some great displays in recent weeks. More of the same on Saturday please mate.
Alex McLeish brings his side to West London with his starting eleven selection depending on late fitness tests to Stephen Kelly (knee) and Medhi Nafti (thigh). However, there should be a recall for Damien Johnson who has completed his three game suspension.
Birmingham from - Taylor, Kelly, Ridgewell, Jaidi, Murphy, Larsson, Muamba, Nafti, Johnson, Kapo, Forssell, McFadden, O`Connor, Zarate, Jerome, Queudrue, McSheffery, Doyle.
Big brother used to rave about this guy when he was a teenager at Chelsea. At one time he was hailed as the Finnish version of Michael Owen. Unfortunately, knee injuries hampered his progress and restricted his opportunities at Chelsea. Since going to St Andrews Forssell hasn`t established himself as a regular but he has this knack of scoring crucial goals. Let`s hope he doesn`t cause any heartache at Craven Cottage this Saturday
Fulham have sat in 19th position in the Premier League table since drawing 1-1 at St Andrews in our last fixture of 2007. On that occasion an early Bocanegra goal was cancelled out by a Forssell strike.
Overall, in fixtures between the two sides whereby Fulham have been decreed the home club, we`ve done well with the record standing as follows,
Fulham 12 wins, Birmingham 11 wins, Draws 11
Unfortunately, if you consider just Premier League games whereby we`ve been decreed the home side you`ll see we have yet to gain a victory with the stats looking as follows,
Fulham 0 wins, Birmingham 2 wins, Draws 2
Chris Foy will officiate this vital fixture!
My heads all in a spin, these are nerve-wracking times, our Premier League status is hanging by a thread, too lose it would be devastating. Birmingham are no great shakes as a side, they`ve, like ourselves, changed managers mid-season and have dropped into the relegation mire despite looking to have pulled away earlier this winter. If Fulham can get going and if we don`t make defensive errors and if we take our chances then we could, quite easily, achieve that first elusive back-to-back win this season. People doubted we`d win away so we do have the ability to prove them wrong, therefore let`s be brave, as well as logical about this, and stick our heads above the parapet and go for a 2-0 Fulham win!
After the do-or-die fixture against Birmingham this Saturday we travel to Fratton Park next weekend. If we can get three points off Birmingham and the other results are quite favourable, then Portsmouth could be the team that stand between us and Premier League survival.
Date:Friday May 2 2008
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