Fulham v Wolves (Preview)
Sat in a comfortable position in mid-table with no chance of being relegated or pushing on for a European place, the Premier League remains a place whereby we can merely increase our potential prize fund by climbing the odd place or two. The real glory, as we`re all perfectly aware, lies in the Europa League where we sit very nicely indeed waiting for our two legged semi-final against Hamburg.
But, we shouldn`t lose sight of the fact that the Premier League is our bread and butter and without it there`d not be the chance to enjoy a bit of Hamburg sunshine as well as well as all the sordid bits the city has for its visitors.
So, this Saturday, it`s time to put any thoughts of Hamburg to the back of our minds as we contemplate a visit from a Wolves side that seem to have done enough, through the excellent work of Mick McCarthy, to have condemned any thoughts of relegation to the back-burner.
It should, by all accounts, be an intriguing match up!
Prior to the start of the season many pundits had Wolves down as relegation candidates. With four games to go they`re relatively safe some six points ahead of the relegation zone.
But Mick McCarthy is keen to finish the season in style and not leave the famous West Midlands club looking nervously over there shoulders as the completion to what has been a great season approaches.
Talking about the remaining fixtures, Mick has remarked,
"We want to continue to get results and end with a flurry, not causing ourselves any problems by worrying about other results."
But Fulham are not about to lie down and die. The Europa League may be a priority but Aaron Hughes is keen to see us finish well and is looking at a top half finish remarking,
"It would be nice to be able to finish up there with all the games in the FA Cup and Europa League we`ve had to deal with."
It most certainly would!
Fulham Team News:
(Sir) Roy Hodgson, preparing his squad for their 56th match of the season will be boosted by the news that Clint Dempsey and John Pantsil are both fit for consideration.
Dempsey has been out with a thigh injury whilst Pantsil has been out since December with a serious knee injury.
That leaves Andrew Johnson as the only injury concern with his troubled knee.
With Fulham set to play Hamburg in a crucial Europa League game this Thursday, Roy could be tempted to ring the changes looking to retain a degree of freshness in some tired legs.
Player to watch: Mark Schwarzer
The Australian, quite rightly, took the man-of-the-match accolades up at Anfield for us, he`s getting older by the day and some wonder when he`ll call it a day. Here at Vital Fulham we hope it`s not too soon as he`s been a rock between the sticks this season and I`m banking on him to keep a clean sheet against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Wolves Team News:
Wolves travel to Craven Cottage without the services of their skipper, Karl Henry.
Henry was red-carded in the clash with Arsenal and ill be serving the second game of his three match ban.
Mick McCarthy has only one injury concern that of Kightly who has been suffering with a long term knee problem for the majority of this season.
Player to watch: Kevin Doyle
A striker Mick McCarthy picked up from Reading and a striker who is capable of giving the most efficient and classy of centre backs a hard time. Doyle doesn`t get as many goals as a top notch striker perhaps should but he more than makes up with it with his industry and guile. Keep an eye out for him; he could be an influential character this Saturday!
Match Facts & Stats
Looking through the record books like a right old anorak we find that the two clubs have met 76 times. Wolves currently lead the way having amassed 35 wins to our 22 wins with 17 meetings having ended all square.
If we look at Premier League fixtures, between the two sides; Fulham fare poorly having yet to register a win over Wolves in three attempts. Currently Wolves lead the way with 2 wins with the other game having ended in a draw.
Recent form shows that Fulham are on a run of 4 unbeaten games whilst Wolves have hit something of a goal drought not having scored in the last 3 games.
Mike Dean is the man in charge.
It`s difficult not to have one eye on the Europa League semi-final, after all it`s not every year that European glory awaits us, but this is a fixture that is hard to call. Wolves, you`d have thought, would provide three easy points for Fulham especially at Craven Cottage but Mick McCarthy`s men have fought well to get results at White Hart Lane and Upton Park and were very unlucky not too get at least a point at Arsenal not too many Saturdays ago. It`ll be a tight encounter, Wolves will give nothing away and will be looking to catch us on the break through Doyle and Jarvis. But, here at Vital Fulham, we`re confident we can muster all three points, probably through a narrow 1-0 result.
Fulham face two difficult away trips next. First up is the first leg of the Europa League semi-final with Fulham travelling to Hamburg next Thursday followed by another difficult away trip, in the Premier League, with a fixture at Everton next Sunday!