Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday September 26 2008
After registering three victories in succession (Arsenal, Leicester, Bolton) we`re now in danger of reaching the other end of the spectrum with three defeats if we capitulate to West Ham after a loss at Ewood Park last Saturday and a loss at Turf Moor in midweek.
The fixture tomorrow should have a little added bit to it with John Pantsil and Bobby Zamora coming up against their former side for the first time since leaving Upton Park in the summer. Also playing against his former club will be Paul Konchesky whilst Jimmy Bullard also has West Ham connections. For the opposition, Boa Morte will be looking to put one over hi sold employers.
It promises to be an exciting afternoon down by the famous old river.
"We`ve got to bl**dy win this one"
e-mailed to me by Vital Fulham member - Al Billy?
It sort of sums the fixture up perfectly doesn`t it!
Roy Hodgson pulled no punches in midweek when he named his Fulham side to play Burnley in the Carling Cup. He emphasised that the premier League was more important and that is why so many changes were made to the team that lost at Blackburn and why so many fringe players started.
Therefore, based on those words, we expect Roy to return to his strongest eleven as he tries to eek three points out of West Ham. Those that missed the fixture against Burnley will, unless affected by injury start, and we expect Roy to name the following starting eleven,
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard, Murphy, Gera, Zamora, Johnson
I`ve already, this week, gone on about how former players tend to score against former players, but whilst many are tipping Bobby Zamora to score against his old club, I have a nagging feeling that Konchesky will be the one to walk off the pitch with a broad smile on his face, after lashing home a twenty-five yard shot beating Robert Green all ends up!
Gianfranco Zola, a shock choice to take over at West Ham, has seen his campaign get off to a start in the Premier League whereby he`s seen his team win one and lose one. He also has the shock of a Carling Cup defeat, at Watford, to get out of his system. But he`ll be glad that, on the injury front, things are improving, with Craig Bellamy, Carlton Cole and Calum Davenport all available for selection after overcoming injuries.
Unfortunately, for the Hammes, Dean Ashton isn`t available for selection as he contemplates surgery on an ankle injury.
Gianfranco Zola will select his starting eleven from - Green, Behrami, Upson, Neill, Ilunga, Faubert, Noble, Parker, Etherington, Di Michele, Sears, Cole, Lastuvka, Lopez, Davenport, Reid, Mullins, Boa Morte, Collison.
I always like the Portuguese forward and he left here after Chris Coleman was forced to sell off his best players to generate funds. He`s probably not as quick as he once was as age has dulled those reflexes but he`s still a more than competent footballer who is capable of hurting you!
If we are going to get three points tomorrow we`ll need to beat West Ham United for the first time ever, at our place, in the Premeir League. The record books show that, currently, we`re a very poor second to the Hammers with the boys from the East End having won four times and us none at all with one fixture drawn.
In all League games played on home soil, we are the kings with sixteen wins compared to the twelve of West Ham and eight draws.
In the corresponding fixture, last season, we went down 1-0 to a late goal from Nobby Solano (87th minute) and a minute later saw Leon Andreasen sent off.
Let`s hope we don`t get a repeat of that this time around.
This is a game we must win, we can`t go to West Bromwich Albion, next weekend, on the back of a run of three consecutive defeats. After a confident start to the season, Roy will be hoping his team can play the controlled football they produced against Bolton and Arsenal; if they do I`m taking them to win 3-2. If not, get ready to dig in for winter.
Next weekend we switch from playing West Ham to playing West Bromwich Albion, in an away fixture.
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Date:Friday September 26 2008
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