Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Monday December 27 2010
After the disappointment of that Boxing Day defeat to West Ham United, Fulham face a difficult fixture against Stoke City on Tuesday evening. Stoke are a difficult side to face and have a good home record which, when you look at our away record, gives you even more cause for concern about getting anything from this game, but we can but hope!
With a section of the Craven Cottage faithful having jeered Mark Hughes, following the Boxing Day loss to West Ham, Mark Hughes might well welcome an away trip to try and rescue something from a first half of the season that has left us locked in a relegation battle.
But, despite the jeering, Hughes still believes Fulham are heading in the right direction when he remarked, following that game,
"I think deep down, the vast majority [of fans] understand what we're trying to do and it will take time, and we've just got to be patient."
The big question though is whether those behind the scenes are prepared to show Hughes the patience he craves.
Tony Pulis has done a great job at the Britannia Stadium, his side are difficult to beat and remain a force to be reckoned with at home, but he`ll be concerned about whether two of his regulars, who picked up injuries in their 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day, will be fit enough to start.
One of those, the influential winger Matthew Etherington has an ankle knock whilst the other, Jon Waters, has a shoulder problem.
Those damn throw-ins continue to trouble most Premier League teams. It`s not so much the distance but mote the trajectory they come in at. Let`s hope Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes can do their bit to clear the lines whenever they`re called upon.
The West Ham United defeat only served to emphasise that for all our pretty approach play we lack that killer instinct in front of goal. With Bobby Zamora out until February and with Moussa Dembele still not available, it looks as if Mark will have to make do with who he has available. Does he decide to stick with an out of sorts Andrew Johnson or does he give Diomansy Kamara another chance?
Elsewhere, Philippe Senderos, Fredric Stoor and Matthew Briggs are all unavailable.
I`m not clutching at straws here! I thought the American looked sprightly when he came on against West Ham and only a magnificent save form Robert Green prevented him from getting on the score sheet. Could he get the nod to start?
The history books show it is 43 years since we last beat Stoke City on their patch, November 1967 to be precise when we triumphed 1-0.
Recent fixtures between the two sides have seen Stoke win the last three fixtures.
Fulham go into the fixture having won only 1 of their last 1426 games!
Having not won away from home since the opening day of the 2009/2010 season, a record we shared with West Ham United until they took all three points on offer at Craven Cottage on Boxing Day, it`s almost impossible to cheerily predict we can get all three points away to Stoke this Tuesday evening. But, in troubled times, you have to keep the faith and we reckon that given a bit of luck we can, perhaps, snatch a point from this one!
Fulham travel across London to White Hart Lane, on New Years Day, to take on Tottenham Hotspur.
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Date:Monday December 27 2010
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