Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday December 14 2007
On Saturday evening Fulham entertain Newcastle in a fixture that has taken on paramount importance with regard to our current league status. Two consecutive away defeats (Manchester United and Blackburn) have seen us plunge form the lofty heights of twelfth to fourth from bottom. As we approach the half way point in the season (games) we`re in danger of having recorded very few wins.
Indeed, this season has turned out to be our worst start to a premiership season ever with a meagre 13 points on the board from sixteen games. Amongst those thirteen points are seven from draws as we continue to be known as the draw specialists in the Premier League. Surely Saturday evening is the time to reap three points isn`t it?
Ahead of the vital clash Anti Niemi has recognised the importance of the forthcoming home matches by describing them as massive.
He`s not far wrong; defeat against Newcastle should be viewed as a disaster and not just as a mere setback!
Fulham will have to make do without the services of Diomansy Kamara, who is suspended after picking up five yellow cards so far this season.
If Paul Konchesky plays, the ex-West Ham full back will be making his 200th club career start. Aaron Hughes, who is likely to play at centre half, will be playing against the side where he started his career as a professional.
Elliot Omozusi, now starting to make a defensive position his own, will, if picked, be playing on his nineteenth birthday.
Down here on our Vital Fulham yacht, moored on the banks of the River Thames, we have an inkling that Lawrie Sanchez will start with the following eleven,
Niemi, Omozusi, Stefanovic, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Davis, Murphy, Bouazza, Kuqi, Healy
The product from our youth Academy turns nineteen on Saturday and after a couple of fine performances will be looking to shut out a Newcastle side that have only failed to score once in their last eleven Premier League outings.
On the statistics side, Obafemi Martins will be making his 50th Premier League appearance for Newcastle, if selected. Stephen Carr will rack up his 300th league appearance, again if selected, whilst Steve Harper, if preferred to Shay Given in goal, will be making his 100th career appearance.
Likely to be missing are Claudio Cacapa, Peter Ramage, Michael Owen, Damien Duff and Abdoulaye Faye all through injury.
Newcastle (from) - Given, Harper, Beye, Enrique, Rozehnal, Taylor, Edgar, Butt, Milner, Geremi, Emre, N`Zogbia, Barton, Smith, Viduka, Martins, Ameobi
A fiery, often hot-headed player who has the ability to score some good goals but all too often gets lost in the hullabaloo of the midfield battle. One to watch because you just know that at least once in the game he`ll unload one of those crunching tackles that`ll get everyone on their feet!
Thankfully, we`re able to leave our dire away form alone for the next couple of fixtures. Newcastle are; what I`d call, a team that blows hot and cold. On a good day they`re capable of troubling anyone but on an off day they are there for the taking.
With the festive season fast approaching I`m probably not the only one who feels that Fulham Football Club deserves to give the fans something to put the smiles back on their faces. Therefore, with the air full of Christmas spirit, we`re going to hold our heads high and predict a home win, in fact a damn fine home win, 3-1 to Fulham!
Howard Webb, of Yorkshire, will take charge of the fixture.
In the corresponding fixture last season Fulham emerged victors in a 2-1 win. The home sides` goals were scored by Helguson and McBride with Martins replying for Newcastle in the dying seconds of the game. Indeed, Fulham will be looking to earn their third consecutive home win over Newcastle in front of the Setanta Sports cameras this weekend. Overall, the history books show the statistics as follows at Craven Cottage. Premier League - Fulham 14 Newcastle 2 Draws 0 All League Games - Fulham 14 wins Newcastle 6 wins Draws 5 Therefore, if history is maintained, there is a fair chance Fulham should have three points in the bag come Saturday night.
Fulham entertain Wigan Athletic next weekend in a game that has six points written all over it.
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Date:Friday December 14 2007
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