Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Thursday September 9 2010
It`s a welcome return of Premier League action this weekend after everything was put on hold to accommodate the international scene. Fulham restart their season with a home encounter against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Not the most attractive of fixtures I know but a great chance to get that first win of the season after three successive draws.
Wolves arrive at Craven Cottage having not been beaten this season, much like ourselves. However, Mick McCarthy has offered some kind words about our side, remarking ahead of the fixture,
"I watched them play against Manchester United and I thought they were excellent."
"Mark has been a success and I don`t think him losing the job at Manchester City had anything to do with him at all."
"It was down to circumstances, which sometimes dictate you can`t stay."
"You have to wipe your gob and get on with it, and he`s back at Fulham and I`m sure he`ll make a success of it."
And so are we.
Mark Hughes will be hoping that those few who were away on international duty have returned without any niggling injuries that might see them ruled out of contention. Two players who were in contention for the England squad, before pulling out with injuries, David Stockdale and Bobby Zamora, remain doubts.
If Stockdale is ruled out then we`d expect Mark Schwarzer to come in and do the business even if he is still a little sore about missing out on a dream move to Arsenal when the transfer window was still open.
With Paul Konchesky having left the building, it`ll be interesting to see if Hughes sticks with Kelly or drafts in one of his new signings and in particular Salcido.
The midfield more-or-less picks itself with Dickson Etuhu and Danny Murphy pulling the strings from the centre, although Hughes will be hoping that Damien Duff, who missed the Republic of Ireland`s two recent games, has recovered sufficiently to offer the team width on the opposite side of the pitch to Simon Davies.
If Zamora doesn`t make it, Hughes will play the excellent Moussa Dembele up front but will have to choose who to partner him with, could it be Zoltan Gera or Clint Dempsey treading slightly unfamiliar ground in the hole behind Dembele?
Definitely ruled out though, at the time of writing, are Andrew Johnson, Philippe Senderos and Diomansy Kamara.
Mark Hughes appears to have uncovered a real gem here and if he can continue to show the form we all saw in the games against Manchester united and Blackpool then he has a huge Fulham future ahead of him.
Mick McCarthy brings his squad to Craven Cottage boosted by the news that Steven Fletcher, a summer signing from Burnley, and Jelle van Damme have both returned to training after injury.
These duo were also joined by Steven Mouyokolo whilst McCarthy will be keen to integrate Kevin Doyle and on loan Chelsea star, Michael Mancienne back into his squad ahead of the clash.
One big decision awaits Mick though, does he stick with his front pairing of Doyle and Ebanks-Blake or does he give his record signing, Fletcher, a starting place?
Karl Henry will be missing though as he`s serving a suspension for a red card.
Wolves` possible line-up - Hahnemann; Zubar, Berra, Craddock, Elokobi, Mancienne, Foley, Edwards, Jones, Jarvis and Doyle.
The Republic of Ireland star was a steal when signed from Reading and he`ll be a real handful as Fulham seek that first Premier League win of the season whilst also trying to maintain their unbeaten record.
By a strange quirk of fate both teams are unbeaten this season.
Last season this weekends visitors ground out a 0-0 draw as they sought to steer clear of the relagation places.
Let`s hope that isn`t the outcome of th egame this weekend, we could do with being entertained.
In the away fixture last season, Wolves had th eupper hand with a 2-1 win, with Doyle and Edwards scoring for the home side and Murphy getting a consolation goal from the penalty spot.
Wolves, under Mick McCarthy, are the perennial Premier League survivors, courtesy of a home record that is far superior to that of their travels (much like us some might say). They can be a dangerous side and they have some decent enough players but they have to be the kind of side that we beat. In fact I`d put it down as a seriously disappointing day if we can`t get our first three point haul of the season against this lot. I`m going for 2-0 to Fulham!
We`re back on our travels next weekend with a trip to Ewood Park to take on Blackburn Rovers.
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Date:Thursday September 9 2010
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