Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday December 27 2008
Fulham are on an eight game unbeaten run, their best run in eight years of Premier League football. Sunday will witness a packed Craven Cottage as our near-neighbours, Chelsea, arrive for the last Premier League fixture of 2008. A win for Fulham would round off a perfect start to the 2008-2009 campaign, a campaign that has seen them sit comfortably in the upper half of the table rather than the bottom four places that became so much of a feature last season. Is a win on the cards? We can but pray and wait and see!
Ahead of the local derby, Roy Hodgson has spoken out about how he perceives the opposition will approach the game, remarking,
'We'll approach the game like we've approached all the games."
'Not conceding goals has not been about dragging 11 behind the ball and kicking it into the stand, we're trying to play as much football as the opposition. "
'At home, the opposition give you more respect but that will not be the case with Chelsea. They will be thinking that three points is what they need.'
So it`s up to us to deny them!
Roy Hodgson will be hoping that Jimmy Bullard, so essential to his style of play, will recover sufficiently from the dead leg he received at White Hart Lane to take his place alongside Danny Murphy in midfield. He`ll also be expressing similar thoughts with regards to his defensive lynch-pin, Brede Hangeland who saw his Christmas ruined with about of flu. If Didier Drogba is playing for Chelsea then Fulham will need the strength of Hangeland to combat him.
At Vital Fulham we have our fingers crossed and we`re going for a starting eleven of,
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Dempsey, Bullard, Murphy, Davies, Johnson, Zamora
Becoming something of a regular starter in the side after ousting Zoltan Gera. With Gera injured for another week or so this is the ideal time for Dempsey to make the role, he currently occupies, his own.
Chelsea will arrive with John Terry (suspended), Michael Essien (injured), Ricardo Carvalho (injured) and Franco di Santo (injured) missing. But their squad is packed with a plethora of world class stars and Scolari will be looking to select a side that will earn the victory they need to keep in touch with Liverpool.
Chelsea will field a starting eleven selected from the following squad:
Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Bosingwa, Belletti, Fereira, Alex, Ivanovic, A.Cole, Bridge, Mikel, Lampard, Ballack, Deco, J.Cole, Kalou, Drogba, Anelka, Malouda, Mineiro.
Reputedly on more in a week than you and I will earn in about eight years of hard graft. Always seems to do well at Craven Cottage and memories of that free kick he hit, that swerved yards past Mark Crossley, continue to haunt me.
Fulham will be looking to gain vengeance for a 2-1 defeat they suffered in the corresponding game last season whereby they took the lead through a Danny Murphy penalty, on ten minutes, but were beaten by goals from Kalou and a Ballack penalty in the second half.
Fulham`s tremendous home form, the best in the Premier League points wise, will be subjected to a major test. Chelsea have a side full of stars and if Fulham are not buoyed up for this the visitors might tale all three points. The atmosphere will be great and if Bullard and Hangeland can both make the starting eleven Fulham will have a great chance of upsetting Chelsea`s title ambitions. I`ll be brave and go for a 1-0 win to Chelsea, as for who scores, is there a better time for Zamora to break that long run without a goal!
Fulham`s first match of 2009 is a trip to Hillsborough to take on Sheffield Wednesday in a FA Cup third round tie.
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Date:Saturday December 27 2008
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