Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday February 22 2013
We`re back on home turf this Saturday when we entertain Stoke City, at Craven Cottage. It seems ages since we last played, courtesy of our FA Cup exit earlier this year, but we`re sure the players and coaching staff will be raring to go. Can we get the better of what is usually a resolute and physical Stoke City side? Well that remains to be seen.
Mark Schwarzer, likely to face an aerial bombardment on Saturday, has given his thoughts on the forthcoming fixture, remarking,
"Stoke play a certain style of football that is always very physical and you have to be 100 per cent on your game to be able to compete against them."
"You always know what you`re in for, we know that we are going to be bombarded from any set-plays."
"We are going to have to be really switched on for their set-plays because that is one of their main strengths. It is going to be a very tough game."
But one we can surely win!
Entering this fixture Martin Jol will be hoping he can call upon the services of Kieran Richardson who has been absent with a calf injury, an injury that has sidelined him for five weeks.
Unfortunately, Mahamadou Diarra and Kerim Frei remain on the long term treatment table.
Martin Jol will be hoping the Bulgarian can provide the guile to unlock a Stoke defence that, until recently, were masters at not conceding goals.
Tony Pulis brings his side south boosted by the news that Brek Shea and Marc Wilson are both available after recovering from long-term injuries.
On the striking front, Pulis expects Cameron Jerome to shake off a knee knock but Michael Owen, picked up in the summer after Manchester United didn`t offer him a new contract, is doubtful with a thigh injury.
A towering presence in the Stoke defence but also someone who could cause us problems from set-pieces.
Looking at the history books, they show that in all league meetings between the two sides, the results are quite evenly matched. With 69 meetings completed Fulham have won 28 whilst Stoke have won 26 with 15 drawn.
But, entering this fixture, our current form is poor. We`ve won just 3 of our last 18 league games and we`ve only taken 930 available.
Our officials for this encounter are Lee Probert (referee), S. Child (assistant), R. Ganfield (assistant) and John Moss (fourth official)
Our recent form has been far from good and we need the three points on offer to ensure our hopes of a mid-table finish are given some further foundation. Stoke will be a tough test, Tony Pulis has done a decent job with the Staffordshire outfit. However, I have this sneaking suspicion that home advantage will see us sneak this by the odd goal in three.
Our next fixture will see us visit Sunderland next Saturday, kick-off at 15:00 hours.
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Date:Friday February 22 2013
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