Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday January 30 2009
Fulham entertain Portsmouth this Saturday in a fixture that is of paramount importance to both clubs. Fulham will be keen to get back to winning ways after two straight Premier League losses (West Ham and Sunderland) whilst Portsmouth will be keen to turn things around after exiting the FA Cup to Championship side, Swansea City, whilst also looking to reverse a downward tend in their league form since Tony Adams took over from Harry Redknapp. It promises to be quite a fixture.
Since taking over the managers` role from Harry Redknapp, Tony Adams has had a tough time. In fact many are already questioning whether Adams could be the next managerial casualty in the Premier League which would be a shame.
Perhaps those who criticise this Arsenal icon should look at the problems he`s faced with having to work with, problems that are highlighted in the following quotes that followed the recent loss to Aston Villa,
"I was encouraged by our performance against Villa although we lost 1-0."
"I think we looked in good shape playing 4-4-2. We looked competitive with that system; solid at the back, with Peter crouch and Kanu holding the ball up and pace down the sides."
"We`re not blessed with too many fit central defenders so it`s a system that suits us now."
"We created a lot of chances and had 17 corners, so I`m hoping the results will come."
Not just yet though please!
After two defeats on the trot in the Premier League, there may be a temptation for Roy to mix things up a bit. Unfortunately, the very area he could do with mixing up a bit is the very area that`s looking a little threadbare player wise. With Bullard gone, and Andreasen apparently going, there doesn`t appear to be any viable current option to the midfield pairing of Murphy and Etuhu. Therefore, Roy may have to stick with his tried and trusted eleven and hope that the reversal in fortunes can be turned around against a struggling Portsmouth side.
Therefore, don`t expect much variation from the familiar starting eleven of - Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey, Johnson, Zamora.
For once Brede will be faced with an opponent who is taller than him in the shape of Peter Crouch. The dual could be the decisive factor in deciding the outcome of the match, let`s hope it`s our man who prevails.
Portsmouth, already struggling after the sales of Muntari, Diarra and Defoe, will also be without the injured midfield pair of Niko Kranjcar and Richard Hughes. Another doubt is veteran defender Sol Campbell who has a hip injury that will require a late fitness test, if Campbell doesn`t start we expect Younes Kaboul to step into the breach.
Recently signed a new contract at Fratton Park and his recent form suggests his England career could soon be revived again, Fulham will have to watch for his raids down the right flank and his explosive shooting.
Premier League games between these two sides at Craven Cottage, according to the record books are fairly even with both sides having won twice with one game being drawn. In all league matches played between the sides on Fulham turf, Portsmouth have the edge with ten wins to the six of Fulham with eight drawn.
Last season the fixture saw Portsmouth emerge 2-0 winners with goals from Benjani and Hreidarsson.
Alan Wiley, of Staffordshire, will be the man in the middle running affairs.
After picking up nothing form our last two Premier League games we desperately need to get all the points on offer against Portsmouth. Our recent failings have seen us drop down the table and we`re now only five points off of a relegation battle. However, on the road this season Portsmouth have suffered from some heavy defeats and with the sale of their engine room in midfield in the shape of Muntari and Diarra coupled with the recent loss of Jermaine Defoe I can`t help but think they`re there for the taking. So, with a broad smile on my face and knowing this could come back and bite me, I`m going for a two goal winning margin in 3-1 to Fulham.
Wigam await us at the JJB Stadium next weekend.
Date:Friday January 30 2009
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