Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday May 7 2010
Fulham wrap up their Premier League campaign for 2009/2010 with a trip to the Emirates Stadium to take on an Arsenal side that still need a result to hang on to third place and avoid the possibility of having to play a Champions League qualifying fixture. With Hamburg looming on the horizon, it wouldn`t surprise us if there is a little bit of focus missing on Sunday despite the best endeavours of Roy Hodgson to keep the squad motivated.
Ahead of the game, Jonathan Greening has spoken about our glorious ride this season, commenting,
'I`ve played my part and started a few games, and it`s great to be involved in an incredible journey with a great manager, staff and team. The boys have done unbelievable. Everyone who`s played a part has done a great job.'
Two games to go before we can reflect though!
Arsene Wenger will be without several key players - Denilson, Vermaelen, Fabregas, Ramsey and Gallas whilst his keeper, Almunia will require a fitness test.
Having missed almost the entire campaign there are some that say that Arsenal would have maintained a more realistic title challenge if he were to have been fit all season. Not sure if he`ll play the full ninety minutes but if he does he`s the main danger man!
Roy Hodgson will be keen to keep certain players fresh ahead of the trip to Hamburg, next Wednesday, he`ll also be aware that he`ll be without three of his star players who are injured. Andrew Johnson will play no further part this season whilst Bobby Zamora and Damien Duff will be hoping that they`ll be able to shake off Achilles and calf problems ahead of next Wednesday.
Possibly in line to start are two players who could well be making their last starts for Fulham before departing for pastures anew, Chris Smalling and Erik Nevland. Young Smalling is destined for a glittering career at Manchester United whilst Nevland is winding down his professional career by retuning from whence he came, Norway.
Total shot in the dark, we`ll go for a starting eleven of:-
Zuberbuhler, Pantsil, Baird, Smalling, Shorey, Greening, Riise, Dikgacoi, Gera, Nevland, Dempsey
With a much vaunted multi-million pound move to Manchester United about to happen this summer, this fixture will give us a great chance to see how young Chris copes against the vibrant attacking force that is Arsenal.
The last three games between these sides have been incredibly tight. Last season we drew 0-0 on their patch and won 1-0 on our own patch. This season we lost 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
I wonder if the pattern will continue!
Mike Jones will be the man in charge.
With (Sir) Roy expected to field a weakened side ahead of the Europa League Final and with Arsenal needing a result to hold off the challenge of Spurs for third place, I can in all honesty say that this is going to be hard ninety minutes. Can I see us winning, well no! Drawing - possibly! Losing - probably, but hey we`ve got bigger fish to fry have we not!
The greatest match in our history awaits us, a European Final, on May 12th, against Atletico Madrid, in the Nordbank Arena Hamburg.
Date:Friday May 7 2010
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