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Craven Cottage



Wigan arrive at Craven Cottage ready to play their part in a fixture that is off paramount importance to both clubs. A defeat for Fulham could see the two clubs swap places at the bottom end of the table and give the new incumbent, whoever it may be, an impossible start in his new job. A win for Fulham could see them get out of the bottom three and also provide a little hope that survival is a probability rather than a possibility.

In short, it`s one of those fixtures that has six points written all over it!

Vital Quotes:

He`s cheered us all up by playing his first competitive game since that dreadful injury, albeit for the reserves. He may not be in the sixteen for the Wigan fixture but his eventual return is most anticipated. Here`s what he had to say about our current predicament,

"We`re underachieving, we all know that."

"But we`ve got some great players and the gaffer is awesome."

"We`ve had a lot of bad luck but the gaffer says we make our own luck. What`s happened is our own doing and we`ll undo it, definitely. I just want to get out there and do my bit to help."

Nice vote of confidence for the boss there, Jimmy!

Although the board didn`t share your immediate thoughts!

Fulham Team News:

Fulham go into the fixture without the services of the injured, namely, Kasey Keller, Lee Cook, Ian Pearce and Brian McBride. Despite playing sixty minutes for the reserves during the week, Jimmy Bullard is not considered to be in contention with the fitness staff reckoning it`ll be another three to four weeks before he regains full match fitness.

The new management team, albeit temporary, of Lewington and McKinlay are able to call upon the services of Carlos Bocanegra and Moritz Volz. Indeed, it`ll be interesting to see just what starting eleven they will pick for what could be the most important game of the season so far.

If we`re reading correctly between the lines then, after some praise this week, Elliot Omozusi is sure to start. After three defeats on the bounce, the opportunity exists to shake up the squad, take a gamble and go for broke. However, we believe Lewington and McKinlay will stick with the tried and trusted and go for the following eleven,

Niemi, Omozusi, Hughes, Stefanovic, Konchesky, Davis, Murphy, Davies, Bouazza, Healy, Dempsey

Player to watch: Elliot Omozusi

The youngster has surprised everybody since making his debut and it`ll ne interesting to see if the injury time penalty he conceded, against Newcastle, will have fazed him at all.

Wigan Team News:

Wigan will be without their club captain, Mario Melchiott, who is suspended. However, despite apparently being out for the next few weeks, Emile Hesley could make a surprise comeback on Saturday with Steve Bruce rating him touch and go.

There is also a chance that Jason Koumas (groin) and Antoine Sibierski (thigh) could also recover in time to play.

Steve Bruce will select his eleven from; Kirkland, Taylor, Boyce, Bramble, Kilbane, Valencia, Brown, Scharner, Landzaat, Bent, Heskey, Aghahowa, Granqvist, Olembe, Koumas, Skoko, Cotterill, Hall, Sibierski, Pollitt

Player to watch: Michael Brown

Is returning to his former club where he made 44 appearances before returning north. It`ll be interesting to see who he kicks first! My money is on Davis!

Match Facts & Stats

In the corresponding fixture last season, Wigan managed to take all three points courtesy of an 83rd minute goal from Camara. Earlier this season, at the JJB Stadium, the spoils were shared in a 1-1 draw. Fulham took an early lead (in the 11th minute) through Clint Dempsey but suffered one of those all too familiar lapses to concede a late equaliser from a Jason Koumas penalty.

In the history books the statistics show that in Premier League clashes at Craven Cottage the honours are even with both teams having won once.

In all league fixtures, at Fulham only, Fulham have 8 wins, Wigan have 4 wins with 2 draws.

Ref Watch:

Alan Wiley of Burntwood in Staffordshire has been tasked with keeping this relegation battle under control.

Match Prediction:

It really is crunch time isn`t it? However, it`s Christmas time and we could all do with a little cheering up. Currently, after three games without a goal, I`d be happy to celebrate just seeing the ball cross the line but then again I`m a greedy so-and-so and I want to taste victory again. Sadly, with our penchant for conceding in the second half, I get the impression we`ll need to score a couple in the first half, therefore let`s get the old Christmas spirit out, take a large swig and be prepared to witness a goal fest (well almost), 2-1 to Fulham! However, if the game is even going into the last ten minutes, don`t give up hope. Wigan have conceded more goals in the last ten minutes than any other club, even us! Other form pointers, Wigan have not kept a clean sheet in 14 Premier League matches, the longest current run! Wigan have only taken one point on their travels, a draw at West Ham! Wigan have not won a match in 14 attempts against London clubs in recent times!

Next Fixtures:

After two consecutive home matches (Newcastle and Wigan) Fulham hit the road for two away matches (Tottenham and Birmingham). Therefore, it`s time to shake of that Christmas Day lethargy and get your arses off to White Hart Lane to probably witness yet another away day disaster.

Writer:Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday December 21 2007
Time: 4:08PM

Best of Vital Network


I think we should call Smertin back!! Him and Davis in the centre!! I love Davis but I guess Smertin and Murphy might be pretty good too! Kamara is back too so him and Dempsey upfront.
21/12/2007 16:33:00
This is a real 6 pointer Putney, you win and you put some distance between us we win and we go above you and it looks grim for you lot, I'd take the draw
21/12/2007 16:36:00
I'd have gone for a home win until Sanchez was sacked, now I think the squad my be dispirited a little - bore-draw for me!
21/12/2007 16:43:00
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League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
P Brighton 45 28 8 9 92 34
P Newcastle 45 28 7 10 91 42
3 Reading 45 25 7 13 82 2
4 Sheff Wed 45 24 9 12 81 16
5 Huddersfield 45 25 6 14 81 1
6 Fulham 45 21 14 10 77 27
7 Leeds Utd 45 22 8 15 74 14
8 Norwich 45 19 10 16 67 12
9 Derby County 45 18 12 15 66 4
10 Brentford 45 18 10 17 64 12
11 Preston 45 16 14 15 62 2
12 Aston Villa 45 16 13 16 61 -1
13 Cardiff 45 16 11 18 59 -4
14 Barnsley 45 15 13 17 58 0
15 Wolves 45 15 10 20 55 -5
16 Ipswich 45 13 16 16 55 -7
17 Bristol City 45 15 9 21 54 -5
18 Q.P.R. 45 15 8 22 53 -10
19 Burton 45 13 13 19 52 -12
20 Birmingham 45 12 14 19 50 -20
21 Forest 45 13 9 23 48 -13
22 Blackburn 45 11 15 19 48 -14
R Wigan 45 10 11 24 41 -17
R Rotherham 45 5 7 33 22 -58
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