Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Monday January 3 2011
2011 hasn`t started well for Fulham Football Club. We`re lurking in the bottom three and we need to put together a run of results that will see us rise up the table. We get the perfect opportunity to get the first of that string of results when we entertain West Bromwich Albion this Tuesday evening in a game that will be televised live by Sky Sports.
Although our recent results suggest otherwise, Mark Hughes has no fears about our immediate future, remarking to the press,
"We feel very confident in our ability to climb the league very quickly."
We hope you`re right Mark!
Fulham go into this fixture with David Stockdale standing in for Mark Schwarzer with the Australian away on international duty in the Asian Cup.
Mark Hughes will also be missing the influential presence of Bobby Zamora with the striker not due back from injury until February.
Philippe Senderos remains sidelined for the season with an Achilles injury whilst Frederic Stoor and Matthew Briggs are also unavailable.
But there is some good news with Moussa Dembele expected to return to the squad after a lengthy spell out with an ankle injury.
Stockdale may well have thought his time as our new number one had come when he started the season ahead of Schwarzer. With Schwarzer intending to leave David may well have had designs on a first team slot. But with Schwarzer signing a new deal this is a rare chance for the youngster to produce the sort of form that put him on the verge of an England call up before he picked up that ankle injury against Blackpool.
Roberto Di Matteo brings his West Brow side to West London on the back of an undeserved 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last time out.
On the injury front, Di Matteo will be without Ibanez, Reid and Olsson whilst a recent red card deprives him of the services of Tamas. But he is able to call upon the services of Jara who has now served a suspension.
Hugely impressive against Manchester United last time out, with his tricky runs will cause problems for our defence who will need to remain alert throughout the game.
Looking through the record books, Fulham have not lost at home to West Bromwich Albion, in the league, since October 1967, an eleven game run.
On total fixtures played, West Brom have the edge over Fulham having won 36 of the 75 games played compared to the 24 of Fulham.
Fulham enter the fixture eon a poor run of form having not won at home in their last five Premier League games.
The reciprocating fixture, at the Hawthorns, saw West Brom emerge 2-1 winners.
Martin Atkinson is the referee, Simon Beck and Martin Yerby are his assistants with Stuart Atwell the fourth official.
I was honest enough to admit that I couldn`t see Fulham winning at White Hart Lane last time out and despite a spirited display I was proven right. But Tuesday evening is different, although West Brom have had some decent away results, winning at Arsenal and drawing at Old Trafford, I just have this feeling that the three points, although hard-earned, will be coming our way on Tuesday evening. A Fulham win with Zoltan Gera coming off the bench to snatch a winner against his old team anybody!
Next up is a FA Cup 3rd round home tie against League One Side, Peterborough United this coming weekend.
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Date:Monday January 3 2011
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