Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday August 17 2012
This summer has seen a few comings and goings at Craven Cottage, but that is nothing new in this wonderful game of ours, it`s merely a reflection of how the game evolves and the Craven Cottage faithful will be looking forwards to the start of the 2012 / 2013 season.
Our opponents for that first game are Norwich City, a club who lost their manager, Paul Lambert, in the summer, with Chris Hughton stepping into the vacant position.
Away from the pitch, the game also brings together two colourful characters off the pitch. Our own Mr Al Fayed will be in attendance whilst we expect Delia Smith to accompany her charges from Norwich. The conversation relating to the food provided could be a lively one.
To follow shortly!
As suggested earlier, a lot has changed with regards to the playing staff at the Cottage. Favourites like Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu and Andrew Johnson have al left whilst Pavel Pognebrynak chose to sign for Reading rather than for the club that brought him to the Premier League.
But Martin Jol has bought in several players who are young and fresh and looking to take the club forward, talent such as Rodallega and Petric. There`s also the added bonus of having a fully fit Grygera, a player who missed the majority of last season through injury.
Supporters will also be excited to see if Moussa Dembele can pick up where he left off next season and whether Bryan Ruiz can shake off an indifferent first season to show us exactly why Martin Jol raves about the player.
However, it remains to be seen whether Clint Dempsey plays any part in proceedings with a much vaunted move away from Craven Cottage yet to materialize.
I`d say that Fulham surprised many clubs when they signed this lad from Wigan and it`s fair to say that the Craven Cottage faithful are looking forward to seeing the lad in action.
Chris Hughton will be looking to carry on the good work initiated by Paul Lambert and the Norwich team he inherited was acknowledged as a decent football side playing the game in the correct manner.
The club has been boosted by John Ruddy becoming a full England international and the arrival of Robert Snodgrass, from Leeds, will give them something extra as they contemplate a second season back in the top flight after their remarkable rise through the divisions.
Injury concerns for Chris Hughton are Hoolahan and Pilkington, both of whom are rated as doubtful.
Once acknowledged as a something of a journeyman player, Holt surprised everyone with his play last season and becoming a surprise hit in the Premier League. A wrangle over his future had Holt looking to move away from Carrow Road following the end of last season but subsequent negotiations saw him put pen to paper on a new deal. Holt will definitely be somebody that our centre backs will need to keep a tight hold of.
Fulham have a decent record against the Suffolk side, winning both previous home clashes, one of which was an emphatic 6-0 win.
In fact Fulham are unbeaten in the last ten competitive games against Norwich, a record going back to 1st January 1986.
The man in the middle will be Michael Oliver ably assisted by C. Breakspear and M. Scholes with R. East as the fourth official.
Craven Cottage is, as far as the opposition goes, a difficult place to come to. In recent years Fulham have established the grand old ground as something of a fortress and I believe that Norwich will have to be at their best to trouble is. Therefore, if we can also give something approaching our best I have no doubt that we can get three points on the board before we head off to Old Trafford next Saturday.
It`s a real tough one next time out with Fulham travelling to Old Trafford, next Saturday, for a 15:00 hour fixture with title chasing Manchester United.
Date:Friday August 17 2012
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