Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday December 7 2007
Fulham travel to the north-west for a second successive difficult away trip this Saturday. With an appalling away record that has seen us not win away from home since September 2006 it`s difficult to get enthusiastic about returning with all three points. Nevertheless, we live in the hope that the run has got to end sometime so why not this Saturday!
We`ll let David Moyes have his say,
"To keep qualifying for European competitions we have to do that through our league position."
"It will be a shard to get into the top 10 this year as maybe it has to get into the top four in the past."
"Blackburn, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Portsmouth and West Ham are doing well so it will be really tough."
And here we are praying for a season free from a relegation fight!
Everton have problems in the centre of their defence. Joseph Yobo missed the recent UEFA Cup clash as did Alan Stubbs who is out with a calf injury. Phil Jagielka could once again form a makeshift central defensive partnership alongside Joleon Lescot.
Everton Squad - Howard, Hibbert, Neville, Lescott, Jagielka, Yobo, Valente, Baines, Arteta, Pienaar, Carsely, Cahill, Osman, Gravesen, Yakubu, Johnson, McFadden, Anichebe, Vaughan, Wessels.
The Australian international has recovered from injury and is back to his best form. He scored the goal that guaranteed Everton qualification into the next stages of the UEFA Cup and his prowess in the box is something we`ll have to be acutely aware of.
Fulham travel to Goodison Park without the services of the injured Brian McBride, Jimmy Bullard, Kasey Keller and Lee Cook.
Simon Davies will be eager to put on a good performance against his former side as would have Brian McBride if his long-term injury hadn`t of prevented him doing so.
With points needed to be gained to prevent a slump into the relegation places, Lawrie Sanchez will need to mull over who he should start with up front. After explaining that David Healy is perceived as an impact player it seems unlikely he`ll start with him but keep him in reserve. This leaves Sanchez having to pick two out of a trio of Clint Dempsey, Diomansy (Joe) Kamara and Kuqi.
In defence, Sanchez will need to decide whether the youngster Elliot Omozusi did enough to keep his place after coming in for Chris Baird against Manchester United.
Here at Vital Fulham we suspect Sanchez may well opt for the following starting eleven - Niemi, Omozusi, Hughes, Stefanovic, Konchesky, Davis, Davies, Murphy, Bouazza, Dempsey and Kamara.
It`ll be interesting to see what sort of reception he gets form the Everton faithful. Former players have a habit of scoring against their old team so let`s hope Simon is the one to propel us to that elusive away win we so desperately yearn for.
Last season we were on the wrong end of a 4-1 thumping with Carsley, Stubbs, Vaughan and Anichebe scoring for the home side with Bocanegra replying for us.
In fact last year was systematic of how results between the two teams have gone during the history of the Premier League with on the twelve occasions the fixture has been played the home side has come out on top every time.
Delving back a little further is just as grim for Fulham supporters with Everton having won 15 times and us not ever having won. The best we can boast is that on four occasions we`ve managed to draw!
Steve Bennett of Orpington in Kent will be the man in the middle.
We`ve not won a game away from home this season, indeed, we`ve not won a league game away from home since September 2006 but as the 'Stranglers` once belted out - 'Something`s Gotta Change` - so how about it being our away form? Everton will be buoyant after their seven goal scoring spree against Sunderland and also guaranteeing UEFA Cup progression in midweek, so how about us spoiling the party with a 1-0 win? It`d be quite a way to start the forthcoming festive season wouldn`t it!
After being on the road for the last fortnight it`ll make a nice change to return to action at Craven Cottage next weekend. The opposition are a Newcastle side who raised their game to earn a respectable home draw with Arsenal during the week.
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Date:Friday December 7 2007
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