Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday November 19 2010
After the 0-0 draw, up at St James Park, last Saturday, Fulham welcome big-spending Manchester City to Craven Cottage this Sunday in a game that will be televised, live, by Sky Sports.
The fixture gives Mark Hughes the perfect opportunity to get one over on the club that dispensed with his services not that long ago, it`s probably the reason why Sky have selected the fixture, it`d be churlish to disappoint them now wouldn`t it!
Especially with history on the side of Mark Hughes with our manager yet to lose in 8 previous matches against City and having never lost against a former club!
Clint Dempsey, forced through injuries to others to play a role higher up the pitch in recent weeks, has spoken ahead of the game and called for Fulham to make the most of home advantage, remarking to the local media,
"It will be a tough game, because they have a lot of good players,'
'But we're at Craven Cottage, and at home you have to make sure that you take advantage of your opportunities. As I always say, the Cottage has always been good to us.'
Let`s hope it remains that way!
Mark Hughes goes into this fixture without his long term walking wounded - Philippe Senderos and Bobby Zamora.
Also likely to be out are Carlos Salcido and Fredric Stoor whilst there are serious doubts over Moussa Dembele who picked up a knock whilst away on international duty.
On the positive side though, Hughes is likely to be able to welcome back to the squad Chris Baird after the Irish international had missed the last two games.
Johnson now has a few match minutes under his belt now and with Dembele rated as doubtful may well be given the opportunity to start. Having missed a huge slice of action Johnson will be eager to make amends with a few goals.
Roberto Mancini, who has seen his side struggle to score at home having gone three games without scoring, might be glad of a fixture away from the pressure cooker that Eastlands has become.
However, it looks as if he`ll be without the services of the exceptional Joe Hart who picked up an injury whilst on international duty, Shay Given, no mean slouch between the posts himself, is expected to deputise.
Two players out through injury are Michael Johnson and Nimely whilst Adebayor is rated as doubtful.
Out through suspension is the highly regarded but temperamental Italian striker, Balotelli.
Simply the best player City have. The Argentine international has the ability to influence a match and if Fulham can keep him quiet they have a chance of winning this fixture.
Our home form, against Manchester City, isn`t that great, it`s four years since we beat them at Craven Cottage. Surprisingly, 7 of the last 14 fixtures between the two sides, in the Premier League, have ended in draws.
With regards to the Premier League form books, neither side are doing brilliant, Fulham have only won 1 game in 9 whilst City have only won 1 game in 5
On the scoring front, Fulham will be looking to net to avoid going three consecutive Premier League games without scoring for the first time since January although they face a Manchester City side that have kept seven clean sheets this season.
Lee Mason is the man in charge, assisted by Stuart Burt and Ron Ganfield with Andy D`Urso fulfilling the fourth official duties.
This will be a tough fixture and it could go either way. I don`t see too many goals and it could even be nicked by a solitary strike. A Fulham win though to increase the woes in the blue half of Manchester.
We continue our Premier League campaign next weekend when we entertain Birmingham City at Craven Cottage.
Date:Friday November 19 2010
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