Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Monday January 4 2010
Fulham return to Premier League action after successfully opening their FA Cup campaign with an away fixture against Stoke City. The Britannia Stadium has been a difficult venue for away teams to crack so if Fulham are to return to West London with any reward it`ll take a decent performance.
Ahead of the fixture, Roy Hodgson has welcomed the opportunity to restore his preferred front two with the return of Andrew Johnson from injury, commenting,
"Bobby and AJ have a good understanding together and AJ gives us that threat in behind,'
'Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora are our first choice strikers. We have others, Zoltan (Gera) has done a great job in there, of course we've got (Erik) Nevland, (Diomansy) Kamara and (Seol) Ki-Hyeon."
'But Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora were the two players who were bought to play in those positions and they are the two players who last season kicked us into seventh place.'
Tony Pulis will be hoping that Thomas Sorenson will recover from the finger injury he sustained at the weekend in the FA Cup tie against York City.
He`ll also be hoping that Abdoulaye Faye will return after missing the visit of York and will welcome back into his starting eleven the excellent Ryan Shawcross.
A defender being touted as a possible late inclusion in Fabio Capello`s World Cup squad. It should prove to be an interesting evening as he faces Bobby Zamora, another who has hopes of gate-crashing the squad for 2010
Roy Hodgson takes his squad to the Potteries hoping that Brede Hangeland will have overcome his recent injury, if not we expect Chris Smalling to continue to deputise. Definitely out though is long term injury victim John Pantsil as are Diomansy Kamara, Simon Davies and Seol Ki-Hyeon. On Saturday Stephen Kelly deputised but on this occasion it could be Chris Baird that gets the nod.
Dickson Etuhu is also absent as he`s playing in the African Nations Cup and has reported for international duty.
Elsewhere, in the starting eleven, we expect Damien Duff and Danny Murphy to return as Roy goes for a starting eleven that won`t be too far removed from:-
Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland (or Smalling), Konchesky, Duff, Murphy, Greening, Dempsey, Zamora, Johnson
Still in a rich vein of form and he`ll be relishing the prospect of another match so soon after the Swindon Town cup tie. Can he keep his scoring run going with another goal? Let`s hope so!
As far as the history books show, the two sides have encountered each other on 65 occasions with Fulham having won 27 compared to the 23 that Stoke have won with 15 ending all square.
Last season, it should also be noted that Stoke failed to score in either encounter with Fulham and that this season Stoke have failed to score in five of their last six Premier League matches.
Add to that they haven`t beaten Fulham, at home, since 1993, and you ca see there is room for optimism.
The last time the two sides met Fulham emerged 1-0 victors back in April 2009 with Erik Nevland scoring the winner.
Mark Clattenburg will be the man in charge of this encounter.
The Britannia Stadium is a tricky place to go. Stoke have turned it into a mini-fortress and when you consider our away form isn`t much to shout about then you can see that Fulham face a tough task this Tuesday evening. However, our side is playing well and there`s no reason we can`t, at least, battle out a hard-earned draw. We`re going for a 1-1 with Zamora, naturally, scoring for us!
After a trip to the Potteries, Fulham face another difficult trip to face Burnley this weekend.
Date:Monday January 4 2010
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