Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday September 14 2007
Fulham travel to Wigan still looking for that first, elusive away win of the season. Unfortunately they`ll be facing a Wigan side that have, so far, won all their Premier League games at home this season. With the international fixtures having broken up the squad for the best part of two weeks, Lawrie Sanchez might be clutching at straws in hoping that any momentum gained from the magnificent comeback, against Tottenham, could play a part. However, we`ve been playing some attractive football so why shouldn`t we all remain optimistic that Saturday will be the day we`re celebrating our first away victory of the season?
With Kuqi being deprived of a debut due to David Healy being declared fit, Lawrie Sanchez has taken time out to discuss the signing of the Finnish striker, remarking,
"We have signed Shefki until Christmas and I told him it was a chance to get his career back on track."
"He is a bull of a man and there is no secret that we wanted a centre forward to replace the injured Brian McBride."
The fixture provides Michael Brown with the first chance to play against his former club. Brown, off course, chose to leave Craven Cottage to better himself at Wigan(?) during the close season. One player definitely out is the Irish winger, Kevin Kilbane, who is serving a suspension after a harsh sending off in the previous Premier League fixture. Up front, Antoine Sibierski, a surprise signing in the summer, will be looking to add to the three Premier League goals he has scored already this season.
Definitely not in contention as well are Olembe, Valencia and Landzaart.
Wigan from - Kirkland, Melchiot, Granqvist, Bramble, Boyce, Brown, Scharner, Koumas, Sibierski, Heskey, Skoko, Bent, Aghahowa, Bouaouzan, Cotterill, Hall, Olembe, Pollitt
Recently recalled to the England set-up, Heskey has always been a dangerous player. His physical prowess is enough to trouble most defenders and Fulham will need to be aware of those Wigan players looking to capitalise on his headed flicks as well as taking great care to eliminate the threat he presents at set pieces.
With Lawrie Sanchez having already bemoaned the fact that his squad has been decimated by international call-ups leaving him precious little time to prepare, the make up of the starting eleven is probably dependent upon any niggling injuries those on international duty may return with. David Healy had a muscle strain in midweek but it didn`t prevent him from playing in Northern Ireland`s 2-1 defeat in Iceland, hopefully there will have been no further reaction. If he plays, Carlos Bocanegra will be making his 100th Premier League appearance for Fulham.
In an ideal world, this fixture would have been the perfect time for Jimmy Bullard to make a return (against his former club) but fate has conspired to delay the return of Bullard until around the festive season.
Aaron Hughes has been declared fit and hopefully will make his debut after recovering from an ankle injury.
Fulham from - Niemi, Warner, Keller, Volz, Baird, Stefanovic, Bocanegra, Hughes, Davis, Smertin, Murphy, Seol, Davies, Healy, Dempsey, Konchesky, Kamara, John, Kuqi
Initially on arriving at Craven Cottage, Clint failed to set the place alight. However, in recent weeks, his performances have been outstanding and his goals have been most welcome. A very under-rated player and one Wigan will ignore at their peril.
With Wigan being relative newcomers to League football and both clubs only, in historical terms, having been in the Premier League a relatively short time, there isn`t that much history to discuss. There have been only four Premier League fixtures between the two teams with the record standing as follows,
Wigan 2 wins, Fulham 1 win, Draws 1
Interestingly, in those four matches above, Fulham have only managed to score in one of them!
If we include fixtures between the two sides in all leagues, the record is as follows,
Wigan 8 wins, Fulham 12 wins, Draws 8
Last season, the game ended 0-0 and in all honesty it was a match that won`t linger in the memory for too long!
Rob Styles - Waterlooville, Hampshire.
It doesn`t take a genius to work out that the current form guide would indicate a home win. After all, Wigan have a 100% home Premier League record whilst we have a 100% failure record on the road. Nevertheless, my waters are telling me that Saturday will be the day, the day that Sanchez will offer a wry smile towards Chris Hutchings as that elusive away win is finally achieved. After a tight game, we here at Vital Fulham predict that the travelling band of Fulham supporters will be celebrating after a comprehensive 2-1 win.
Next weekend Fulham take on the early season Premier League pace-setters, Manchester City, in a fixture at Craven Cottage.
Date:Friday September 14 2007
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