Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday January 5 2008
Fulham begin their 2007/2008 FA Cup adventure with a 3rd round tie against lower league side Bristol Rovers. Normally, the Premier League team would be considered outright favourites, however, in our current run of form anything could happen. Indeed, many pundits are suggesting that 'The Pirates` could well plunder a surprise win.
In the build up to the clash, Dejan Stefanovic has been particularly vocal with his views. Much of a recent interview was taken up with a verbal assault on our previous boss, Lawrie Sanchez. However, one brace of quotes has brought to light our overriding problem that of conceding goals 9and losing games) in the last fifteen minutes. This is what he had to say,
"We kept conceding in the last 10 or 15 minutes, maybe due to a lack of tactics or lack of concentration."
Therefore, we`d urge all 'Pirates` fans not to give up hope, anything can happen in the last fifteen minutes at Craven Cottage.
Fulham enter the second match of Roy Hodgson`s reign still without the injured Jimmy Bullard, Lee Cook, Brain McBride, Ian Pearce, Aaron Hughes and Kasey Keller. However, there is hope that Philippe Christanval may feature. Also available, after serving a suspension, is Hameir Bouazza.
With regards to picking a starting eleven it depends on how Hodgson perceives the game. Will he see it as respite from a poor Premier League campaign or merely a distraction as we seek to confirm our Premier League status?
Perhaps the relative small nature of our quad may play a considerable part in his team selection.
Expect the starting eleven to look something like this - Niemi, Baird, Stefanovic, Bocanegra, Konchesky, Davis, Smertin, Hughes, Davies, Kuqi, Healy
In a week where he dispelled any suggestion that he may be ready to hang up his gloves, the Finnish keeper can once again be expected to turn in the sort of performance that belies his age. Hopefully, he won`t be too busy.
Bristol Rovers enter the game with their skipper Stuart Campbell suspended. Also missing will be the injured Sean Rigg (hamstring), Byron Anthony (foot) and Ryan Green (jaw).
However, Paul Trollope will be looking towards the likes of Igoe, Campbell, Lines, Pipe, Williams and Lambert to get amongst an often fragile Fulham backline.
Signed from Hereford and in a rich vein of form. He scored the winner for Rovers in their recent fixture at Southend. He`s also scored two in two so we`ll have to keep our eyes open for him!
Sadly, our recent FA Cup adventures, except a semi-final tie with near-neighbours Chelsea, have been disappointing affairs. Is it really twenty-two years since we played West Ham at Wembley in the FA Cup Final?
At the moment, it`s hard to see us faring spectacularly well in this years competition, however, if we can avoid our usual habit of getting turned over by minnows perhaps we can look towards the fact that five or easy draws could see us reach the hallowed stadium again, or has last nights drinking session clouded my thoughts?
Besides, our last two games against Bristol Rovers have both ended 1-0 to us!
It took a few beers to come to this conclusion and a heated discussion around a pub table but the consensus of opinion in the Vital Fulham office is that we`ll win and win comfortably! Therefore, 3-0 to Fulham!
Our next fixture sees us travel to Upton Park to take on a West Ham United side that blow hot and cold.
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Date:Saturday January 5 2008
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