Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday January 9 2009
Fulham entertain Blackburn Rovers this Saturday hoping to extend a nine game run that represents their best ever run in the Premier League. Fulham will also be hoping to continue their fine run of recent home form that has seen them rise to a very respectable just above mid-table position. It promises to be an entertaining affair.
Ahead of the clash, the visiting manager, Sam Allardyce, has had this to say about freshening up his squad after a break of two weeks, remarking,
"The vast majority of the first team that have played over the three games that I have been here have initially had a good rest."
"But then they`ve been into some conditioning work, some core strength, some flexibility and mobility, and some training and coaching off course. They are ready now hopefully to go up against a Fulham side that is in great confidence."
"So we are now looking forward to the game and hopefully we have the energy and the desire to continue our recent good form and pick up the points to go with it."
That`s what I like about Sam, he`s never short of a word or two!
Roy Hodgson will be hoping that Jimmy Bullard is available for selection after missing the two previous games, against Chelsea and Sheffield Wednesday. If Bullard is fit it`ll be straight choice between the effervescent midfielder and Dickson Etuhu.
Elsewhere, John Pantsil is likely to return art full back as Roy will probably look to return to his favoured line-up of:-
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard, Murphy, Dempsey, Johnson and Zamora.
Will be keen to add to his goal tally and what better way to follow up a brace at Hillsborough than something similar in front of the Craven cottage faithful.
Sam Allardyce brings his Blackburn side to Craven Cottage without the prestigious talent that is Roque Santa Cruz, the striker has a calf injury and is not available for selection.
Also missing will be Matt Derbyshire and Martin Olsson both of whom are reported to be ill whilst David Dunn is a doubt with a hamstring injury. However Allardyce will be boosted by the return of Andre Ooijer and Ryan Nelsen after suspension.
Getting on in years but this Turkish international still has the ability to influence games.
If you delve into the record books, you`ll find that Blackburn Rovers have the slight edge when it comes to games between the sides on Fulham territory. Our visitors, on Saturday have 3 wins compared to our 2 with 2 draws.
But, if you consider all home games between the two sides, it`s Fulham who have the edge with 14 wins compared to the 8 of Blackburn with 13 draws.
Last season the corresponding fixture ended in a 2-2 draw with Muprhy and Kamara scoring for us and Emerton and Warnock for the visitors.
Earlier this season Fulham lost 1-0 up at Ewood Park when a Matt Derbyshire goal, on eighty-four minutes, settled affairs.
Rob Styles of Waterlooville, in Hampshire will be the man in the middle.
I`d prefer to be playing the Paul Ince managed Blackburn side! The introduction of a new manager always brings a fresh impetus to a club and under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce, Blackburn will probably protect what they have and hope for a counter attack to bring them a reward. But, Fulham are on a great run and Roy Hodgson will be keen to see his team extend their current, record breaking, run. After what could be a dour start here at Vital Fulham we expect the home side to establish their superiority and emerge 2-0 winners.
Next weekend Fulham make the short trip across London to take on a troubled West Ham side managed by the likeable Italian, Gianfranco Zola.
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Date:Friday January 9 2009
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