Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday April 24 2009
Our quest to finish as high as we can in the Premier League and possibly gate-crash the Europa League, continues this Saturday with a home fixture against Stoke City. Managed by Tony Pullis, the side from the Potteries have surprised many people this season and their Premier League future is all but secure. It promises to be an exciting encounter.
Tony Pullis, who will be running the London Marathon on Sunday, has spoken some polite words ahead of the fixture praising Fulham remarking,
"Roy Hodgson has done a fantastic job at Fulham. They`re as well balanced as any team in the Premier League."
Here`s hoping he has a wonderful Sunday but not too great a Saturday night.
It`s difficult to see Roy Hodgson swaying too far from his tried and trusted starting eleven, a starting eleven that has served him so well this season. Barring any unannounced injuries we suspect the starting eleven will once again be,
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Zamora and Johnson.
But, it would be nice to see Giles Barnes on the bench. How about it Roy!
AJ has struggled for goals this season and finishing the season with a flourish would silence those who still question whether he was value for money. Stoke could be the sort of team that Andy finds to his liking, tall and physical defenders able to be turned by his mobility and speed.
Tony Pullis will bring his squad to Craven Cottage without his January transfer signing James Beattie. The ex-Sheffield United man has a thigh injury. Also absent, due to a back injury, will be Danny Higginbotham.
Another doubt is Andy Wilkinson who picked up a back injury against Blackburn last week and will undertake a fitness test in the morning.
Has achieved almost legendary status this season with his long throw, a ploy now copied by several other teams. It`ll be interesting to see how we cope with the balls launched onto our box on a flat trajectory.
Previous matches between the two clubs in the Premier League have been rare with this being Stoke`s first season in the top flight since the league was revamped.
In all League games played between the two sides on Fulham territory though Fulham have the edge with 14 wins to the 9 of Stoke with 7 having been drawn.
Earlier this season the teams shared a 0-0 draw up at the Britannia Stadium
Lee Mason will be the man in charge this weekend
Our home form should see us alright against Stoke City. The visitors have secured most of their points at the Britannia Stadium as opposed to on the road. It may not be the prettiest of games but we see no reason as to why, come the final whistle, we`ll not be celebrating a win, possibly by two clear goals.
We`re on our travels next Saturday, just along the Fulham Road to play that lot down the road!
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Date:Friday April 24 2009
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