Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday December 24 2010
Fulham entertain West Ham United on Boxing Day with it being imperative that three points are attained to shrug off that growing feeling that they could be sucked into a relegation battle. With the bottom club, West Ham United, visiting, expectations of three points are high but don`t take anything for granted in this strange game of ours!
With a festive programme that also includes games against Stoke and Spurs, it`s imperative that we get off to a good start on Boxing Day and claim maximum points, a point that is discussed by Mark Schwarzer, on the official site when he remarks,
"Every game is an opportunity to get more points on the board,"
"When you look at our fixtures in the next couple of weeks, they`re all important. They come thick and fast and we need to start picking up three points from games."
"West Ham is a game that we`ll look at and have confidence - we`ll be in the mindset that we need to pick up three points."
"It`s our home game and we`re looking to win games like this one. Regardless of whether West Ham are down at the bottom of the table or not, whoever we play at home, these are the sort of fixtures we need to win."
We certainly do!
Mark Hughes is able to welcome back Moussa Dembele to the squad after the striker returned to training after an absence of five weeks with an ankle injury.
Philippe Senderos remains side-lined as does ex-Hammer Bobby Zamora whilst a defensive trio of Halliche, Stoor and Briggs are also all ruled out.
Something just tells me that our Norwegian centre-back is going to have an afternoon to remember, I don`t know why, I`ve just got that feeling!
Fortune hasn`t favoured West Ham when it comes to injuries; they`ve had it even worse than us.
Thomas Hitzlsperger signed for them but hasn`t managed a Premier League start, The influential midfield duo of Mark Noble and Jack Collison have spent long periods on the sidelines whilst two promising youngsters in Junior Stanislas and Zavon Hines have both only just returned after long injury spells.
And of course there is Kieron Dyer, a massive signing who just can`t seem to stay fit for more than a couple of games!
Also out of contention for this fixture is an old favourite of ours Luis Boa Morte who is suspended. Other absentees include Da Costa, Kurucz and Edgar whilst Robert Green and Valon Behrami are both rated as doubtful.
A consistently outstanding midfield performer who Fabio Capello continues to ignore. I wonder if West Ham will be able to hang on to him come January?
Sometimes it`s best to ignore the statistics! After all, do you wan tot be reminded that our home win, last May, when we beat West Ham 3-2 was our first success over them, on our pitch, for forty-four years?
Do you want to be reminded that in our last thirteen fixtures against the lads from East London we`ve won only two games?
Do you want to be reminded that our current form, one win in thirteen games is relegation form?
No I thought not, so let`s move on!
Continuity, decent behaviour and downright decency will be the standards expected by Mark Halsey as we begin the festive period with a Boxing Day clash where goodwill to all men might not be an apt expression considering what`s at stake!
You look at this fixture and it screams out at you - Fulham win! West Ham are bottom of the table, we`re at home so, on paper, it has to be a Fulham win doesn`t it? But football isn`t as easy as that and this fixture has all the makings of being one hell of a scrap. We`re not in the best of form and West Ham are, how you might say, erratic. It promises to be a typical London derby, a feisty encounter perhaps settled by a single goal. Step forward Brede Hangeland with a late header!
It`s an away trip for us as we end our 2010 fixture programme with a trip to Stoke City!
Date:Friday December 24 2010
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