Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Sunday April 8 2007
Manchester City arrive at Craven Cottage for an Easter Monday fixture of great importance.
Both Fulham and Manchester City are looking nervously over their shoulders at the pack trying to drag them into a relegation battle. Unfortunately, Fulham, after some indifferent performances probably won`t need much help in lurching into the danger zone.
After the 4-1 thrashing at Goodison Park on a far from good Friday, these really are nervous times for Fulham supporters. With no wins in six Premiership games, the visit of struggling Manchester City gives the team ample opportunity to gain those three points that could mean the difference between safety and relegation.
With the season having turned into something that could fast be called disastrous, Chris Coleman, who in recent weeks has started to feel the anger of a minority of the support, is already looking ahead to next season when hopefully a more positive attitude will be prevalent. Here`s a brief glimpse of what Coleman had to say,
"We need to shake things up, there will be big changes."
Thankfully, Coleman did give hope that Fulham will survive by stating that,
"We`re worried, but we`ve got the character to survive."
After the 4-1 reverse at Everton, Coleman will be hoping that Ian Pearce can somehow force his body through the pain barrier to stiffen up the defence. If he is fit, Pearce is likely to replace Zat Knight. Up front Coleman may decide to switch his forwards around. On loan Montella will be looking for a start and could well partner Brain McBride especially as Radzinski and Collins John both picked up injuries at Everton and are rated doubtful. Another doubt is defender Franck Queudrue who, like Pearce, has only a 50-50 chance of playing.
Fulham (from): Niemi, Volz, Bocanegra, Knight, Rosenoir, Brown, Radzinski, McBride, Routledge, Davies, Smertin, Christanval, Helguson, Lastuvka, John, Dempsey, Pearce, Queudrue, Montella, Diop.
Probably in the best form of his Fulham career. He`s popped up with a couple of goals in recent weeks and the Craven Cottage faithful will be hoping the popular American can notch another to drag us away from the relegation zone.
Stuart Pearce, once touted as a candidate for the England job after a successful start to his managerial career will be desperate to win this one. A 0-0 draw against fellow relegation candidates Charlton will probably be viewed as two points dropped rather than a point gained. Pearce will be hoping that England international Micah Richards will return after injury whilst likely Fulham target, Sylvain Distin should play despite picking up a head knock against Charlton.
Manchester City (from): Isaksson, Weaver, Onuoha, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Ball, Jordan, Sun, Barton, Hamann, Dabo, Ireland, Sinclair, Beasley, Vassell, Johnson, Mpenza, Samaras, Corradi, Miller, Sturridge.
The Belgium forward surprisingly opted out of competitive football to move to the Middle East, albeit on a lucrative contract. However, since arriving in Manchester he`s slowly regained the sharpness that saw him heralded as one of the best forwards his country have produced. Fulham will need to be aware of his movement, pace and ability to finish with aplomb.
Fulham a have already crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City this season in the reciprocating fixture. However, they can look back to the same fixture last season whereby a 2-1 win gave Fulham all of the points.
Steve Bennett (Orpington, Kent) will officiate. So far this season Bennett has taken charge of 24 matches issuing 4 red cards and 79 yellow cards.
I`d sincerely like to predict a home win but if our recent calamitous form is anything to go by I guess anything could happen. Therefore, I`m going to err on the side of caution and go for our customary draw. After all we are the draw specialists of the Premiership aren`t we?
Fulham travel to Reading next Saturday for a 15:00 hours kick off in a fixture that, on paper, looks extremely difficult.
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Date:Sunday April 8 2007
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