Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday May 15 2009
St James Park
Fulham make the long trip to Newcastle this Saturday keen to take all three points to keep their Europa League chances alive. Newcastle, on the other hand, will be keen to take three points to pull away from the bottom three as the north-east giants continue to flirt with relegation.
Slightly off kilter, ahead of the fixture many are suggesting that Roy Hodgson, and not Alex Ferguson (as expected0 should pick up the Manager of the Year Award.
One player who isn`t afraid to compliment Roy after he turned his career around is John Pantsil who has remarked,
"It`s not because I`m playing under him that I praise him but what has he has done for me is what every player needs in his life. He`s given me an opportunity and the chance to play and when I`ve made mistakes we`ve studied the video and he`s told me what to do next time."
Careful John, we don`t want to give away too many of the trade secrets do we?
Alan Shearer enters this fixture with Joey Barton suspended and three key players rated at only 50-50, namely, Alan Smith, Obefami Martins and Jose Enrique.
Shearer will pick his stating eleven from the following squad:
Harper, Forster, Krul, Beye, Bassong, Coloccini, S Taylor, Edgar, Cacapa, Butt, Duff, R Taylor, Gutierrez, Nolan, Guthrie, Lovenkrands, Geremi, Smith, Martins, Owen, Viduka, Carroll, Xisco, Ranger
Mark Schwarzer will know all about the threat the Aussie forward poses, his power unsettles defenders and despite his cumbersome appearance he is surprisingly skilful. Keep an eye on him Aaron and Brede!
Roy Hodgson goes into the fixture without Simon Davies and most probably Andrew Johnson. Apart from that we feel the starting line-up could be remarkably similar to last week with two-goal hero, Diomansy Kamara, keeping Bobby Zamora on the sidelines.
Therefore we`ll go for a starting eleven of:
Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Gera, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Kamara, Nevland.
Two goals last weekend was just what the player needed. The second, a sublime back heel, will live long in our memories. Hopefully 'Joe` can keep his scoring run going and nick a goal on Saturday.
So how have Fulham fared in fixtures between the two teams up on Geordie soil?
In the Premier League it`s quite close with Newcastle having registered 3 wins compared to our 2 with 2 fixtures drawn.
In all League games though our hosts have a bigger advantage with 12 wins to our 7 and with 7 also drawn.
Earlier this season the fixture at Craven Cottage ended in a 2-1 win to Fulham with Johnson and Murphy (p) getting our goals.
In the corresponding fixture last season we were beaten 2-0 with Owen and Viduka hammering the nails into our coffin.
The man appointed to oversee fair play will be Howard Webb.
Newcastle will be buoyed by their midweek success, against Middlesbrough, they`ll also be acutely aware that a win against us will almost certainly guarantee their Premier League survival, thereby granting Alan Shearer everlasting messiah status. Couple that with the fact that a win would enhance our own Europa League qualification chances and there is a tremendous amount at stake up at St James Park. You get the feeling that the first twenty minutes could be like the Alamo with Newcastle pushing us back, but if we can withstand the early surges then things could look promising. Despite the win against Boro it wouldn`t take much to erode that confidence and I`m optimistic that we`ll travel back south with all three points, 2-1 to Fulham!
Fulham finish their 2008-2009 season with a home fixture against FA Cup finalists, Everton.
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Date:Friday May 15 2009
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