Thursday, 23 September 2010

Playing with the big boys

It's been a bruising few weeks for the Fulham team. A cynical Wolves playing a more physical game than expected followed up by matches against the typically robust tactics of Blackburn and Stoke has seen the sum total of two crocked strikers and a roughhoused goalkeeper. I reckon Schwarzer will be fine - any keeper would have struggled with the last two games, especially with no protection from the referee at Ewood Park.
All it needed to round up this set of fixtures would have been a match against Bolton Wanderers, although Owen Coyle appears to have rounded off some of the rough edges that he inherited from Gary Megson.
Still, Everton can also offer a physical challenge when needed, especially old Marouane Fellaini, so Fulham need to toughen themselves up for this weekend's match, which may not actually see any recognised strikers on the pitch.. It depends if either managers are going to put their faith in previously underperforming reserve forwards - Eddie Johnson and Jermaine Beckford.
The way Fulham have been playing, it would suggest that Tim Cahill is bang on to score first with his head - a 7/1 shot and favourite given the only players sporting shorter odds are AJ and Dembele.
Another full house against a team with a relatively poor record at the Cottage suggests a good atmosphere this weekend and I reckon an Everton HT/ Fulham FT is a decent bet, especially as it can be found for as long as 40/1.

Friday, 17 September 2010

You can prove anything with statistics

With 74 fouls conceded, 14 (should that be 15?)  yellow cards and one red card, they are statistically the dirtiest team in the Premier League by some margin.
From here.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Dirty Wolves

I wasn't at the Wolves game, Jarrod said he's going to write it up sometime (don't hold your breath). But there have been lots of repercussions from the game. Bobby Zamora's broken leg is obviously key for Fulham over the next five months and could well change how the team plays in his absence. Hodgson would have thrown Elm into the mix, but it seems that Hughes would rather Eddie Johnson and (when fit again) Andy Johnson and Dio Kamara. Not to mention Dembele as well.
Watching the highlights of the game (which you can see here) it seems that Wolves did nothing to rid themselves of the 'dirty' tag that the media placed on them after they did a number on Joey Barton, but I think it should be more 'Cynical Wolves'. They were full of the snide this tug backs and 'black arts' that Scotland faced in Lithuania (and Juventus tried at the Cottage in March but were pulled up by a stronger referee).
It will be interesting to see how Hughes approaches the tricky League Cup tie away at Stoke City now. Stoke played a strong side against Shrewsbury in the last round, but a weakened team last year when they eventually lost 4-0 at Portsmouth. Whether Tony Pulis has had a change of heart about the competition will play a big part in whether Fulham will progress to the fourth round.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Fair weather fan

Well that's my excuse for not seeing the demolition of Port Vale. The rain was incredible that night and brought to mind one of my first ever games as a Fulham season ticket holder - a very damp night against Bolton Wanderers when the elements helped Tony Warner produce a monumental clanger allowing the opposition to score.
Still the 6-0 scoreline was very encouraging as was another fightback from a losing position up at Blackpool. The real reason I've not contributed recently is a) the international week and b) we've been redesigning the magazine that I work on and it has been a huge time and resource vacuum.
There's been more ins than outs before the transfer window finished and the biggest deal was Paul Konchesky decamping to Liverpool for £3m and a couple of youth prospects. I was never a massive fan of Konchesky but he was solid and reliable and had his best season in a Fulham shirt the season just gone. Before that one too few many key goals had been conceded from his side as his concentration wavered, but I think that might have also been down to the fact that during his time at the Cottage there was never any real competition for the left back slot. He should do alright at Liverpool, but his transfer shows how problematic things are at Anfield.
To replace Konch, Hughes has signed up Mexican full back Carlos Salcido. At 30 years old, he is hardly a spring chicken but for £2m Fulham have now got an international standard defender (77 caps) who appears quite loyal given that he has only had two clubs in ten years. Apparently he is also quite dangerous going forward, so that might give the team added bite.
Another international defender who has joined the ranks is the Algerian Rafik Halliche who also comes with a good pedigree. How he will fit into the side containing two centre halves who work brilliantly together will remain to be seen, but there will be proper competition for the two positions - especially when Senderos returns. I wonder if Baird is now classified as a midfielder?
As for the two kids that arrived as part of the Konchesky deal, Alex Kacaniklic and Lauri Dalla Valle, the later has got a very good reputation - in fact Liverpool fans have been really annoyed that they've let him go. But the last wonder kid signed from Liverpool - Christopher Buchtmann - left to join FC Koln after just five months at the club. Hopefully the two new additions will be around slightly longer.
I'm looking forward  to the Wolves game tomorrow. Shame I won't be there - I have a wedding to attend in Eastbourne.

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