Writer: Ollie Sheehan
Date:Monday January 23 2006
Chris Coleman's patched up side will run out at Upton park tonight in good spirit on the back of two Premiership wins over Newcastle and Sunderland.
SkySports Charlie Nicholas reckons the Cottagers could edge it tonight: 'Unfortunately for the Hammers, I'm afraid I fancy Fulham to win this. They are good going forward and as tight at the back as they've been, West Ham do let you express yourself out on the park. Either way it makes for a great game for the neutral.'
But talking to FulhamFC.com Coleman commented: 'It won’t be easy on Monday, West Ham are a good team with good, young players.'
Teddy Sheringham is set to return to the West Ham lineup tonight after returning from a calf injury whilst Tomas Repka is set to play his final game for the Hammers before returning to Prague to be with his family.
Matthew Etherington, Nigel-Reo-Coker and Roy Carroll are all struggling for fitness. Carroll is the most likely to miss tonight's game with a back problem so Shaka Hislop is standing by.
Vital predicted Line-up:
Hislop, Repka, Konchesky, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Fletcher, Etherington, Benayoun, Reo-Coker, Sheringham, Harewood
Yossi Benayoun has had a fantasic season so far and will look to impress again tonight. Nigel Reo-Coker will also look to make an impact on the game if he shakes off his injury problems.
Marlon Harewood always looks dangerous and he will be looking to extend his impressive thirteen goal tally for the season.
Fulham are still searching for their first away league victory of the season and West Ham, having lost their last four home games in the Premiership, could provide an ample opportunity for the Cottagers to put one over their rivals in tonight's London derby.
Wayne Bridge is expected to make his debut on the left of defence at the expense of Niclas Jensen as he looks to force his way into Eriksson's World Cup plans.
Coleman has problems in midfield for tonight's match with Papa Bouba Diop playing for Senegal in the African Nations Cup tonight whilst Claus Jensen (groin), Phillippe Christanval (ankle), and Mark Pembridge (calf), are all out. Steed Malbranque, however, is expected to start after returning from a groin injury.
Vital predicted line-up:
Niemi, Rosenior, Goma, Bocanegra, Bridge,
Radzinski, Elliott, Malbranque, Boa Morte
Wayne Bridge is an exciting prospect for Fulham supporters and should add pace and creativity down the left, while Steed Malbranque if he is fit can make something from nothing. Brian Mcbride will also look to add to his nine-goal tally this season.
West Ham have lost their last four home games in the league whilst Fulham have yet to win away from Craven Cottage this season.
Vital prediction: Fulham to edge it 2-1
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Date:Monday January 23 2006
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