Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Monday February 8 2010
After the dull 0-0 draw up at the Reebok Stadium, Fulham take on a Burnley side, this Tuesday that everyone knows are nowhere near as effective away from home as they are at home. With a FA Cup tie, against Notts County to follow this weekend, these are busy times at Craven Cottage!
Interestingly, despite qualifying for the Europa League last season, our woeful run with injuries has seen Roy Hodgson start talking about that dreaded word, relegation.
Surely, we won`t get dragged towards that scenario, will we? But, perhaps, it does make sense to see every point as a point that nudges you further and further away from such a possibility, after all survival in the top flight is the initial goal for most Premier League sides, is it not!
So when Roy`s quoted as having said,
"Taking four points from our last two games is a big weight off our minds because we are now ten points clear of the relegation zone."
You can feel the weight of expectation most Premier League managers operate under!
I`d imagine Roy will be visiting the medical facilities before this encounter, trying to see just who might be able to drag their wounded bodies onto the squad sheet. Definitely out, for the season, are Andrew Johnson and John Pantsil whilst Clint Dempsey has no chance of making any fixtures in the immediate future, which leaves Paul Konchesky, Simon Davies, Zoltan Gera and Bobby Zamora under the microscope as those who might possibly be available in the near future. Whether Tuesday evening is the near future or too soon remains to be seen. Further news that Kagisho Dikgacoi is also out for six weeks has only compounded matters.
With creating scoring chances the major problem at Bolton on Saturday, Roy may have a conundrum with regards to who starts up front. Surprisingly, on Saturday, perhaps more through necessity than choice, David Elm found himself starting alongside Erik Nevland with Stefano Okaka confined to the bench. Will Okaka partner Nevland against Burnley? We think so as we`re going for a starting eleven of:-
Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Shorey, Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Riise, Nevland and Okaka.
Some are suggesting that Danny`s powers are waning and that he`s not having as much influence in the centre of the park as he has done in previous seasons. I don`t subscribe to that theory! Once Danny shakes those cobwebs away he`ll be back to his usual influential self., starting Tuesday evening hopefully!
On Saturday, Brian Laws made some interesting changes to his starting eleven, but, any criticism that might have been heading his way was deflected by a 2-1 win over West Ham United that gave him his first win since taking over at the Lancashire from Owen Coyle.
Chris Eagles, thought by many to be capable of influencing how a game will turn out, found himself on the bench and may have to wait for another day to reaffirm his credentials.
In goal, Brian Jensen continues to thwart many a forward and Fulham will need to take any chances that come their way with a clinical nature otherwise the man they call 'The Beast` may once again be the talk of the traveling support.
Up front Laws relies on Steven Fletcher and David Nugent to do the damage, hopefully Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes can keep them subdued!
Definitely out though are the injured trio of McCann, Alexander and Caldwell.
Signed, on loan, on transfer deadline day by Brian Laws, he made an instant impact on his debut on Saturday against West Ham. He had a hand in the opening goal and then fired home a wonderful second. Keep an eye on this one, he has a point to prove and will be doing his utmost to do so!
Burnley`s away form is on a par with ours, in fact it could be considered as worse. Burnley have not won away all season and have lost their last six away matches.
When it comes to visiting Craven Cottage they`ve not won on their last seven visits with their last success coming in 1980.
Chris Foy will be the man in charge
Although our away form always gives me cause for concern, our home form leaves me feeling far more optimistic. When predicting away scores its always done with a hint of wishful thinking but home scores are done with a degree of confidence, I`ve already mentioned that Burnley are far less effective on the road and even with our injury hit squad I`ve every reason to believe that come the final whistle we`ll have another three points to add to our total for the season. Fulham by two clear goals!
Next up is an intriguing FA Cup tie against League Two opposition in the form of Notts County this coming Sunday!
Date:Monday February 8 2010
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