Preview: Fulham (Home)

Roy Hodgson's well-drilled Fulham side visit Eastlands for the second time in a month, looking to get the frustration of conceding a late equaliser during their midweek Europa League tie against Italian giants Roma out of their system. Somewhat of a bogey side for us over recent seasons, three points could possibly see us up to third and with a game in hand still to play.

With Pablo Zabaleta serving a one-game ban, Micah Richards will almost certainly move over to right-back. Kolo Toure should return, though if his heel hasn't fully recovered Vincent Kompany could make his first start of the season. I expect Nigel de Jong to continue in midfield given his good performance at the DW last Sunday, and Bellamy to replace Martin Petrov if fit, though the Bulgarian might one again rightly feel aggrieved at losing his spot.

Without Stevie Ireland in midfield we can look a little pedestrian. I'd be tempted to bring him in, if not for de Jong then perhaps for Shaun, but i've a feeling Hughes will leave the Irishman on the bench once more. Nige has done very little wrong, infact you could easily argue he's been one of our better players over the last few weeks, but at home, unless against one of the big four, i'd be content with Gareth Barry doing the donkeywork in the middle. With Ireland in the side we're always likely to be that bit more offensive.

The visitors will be without South African midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi, who i thought was quite impressive from the bench during the drab Carling Cup tie. Talisman Danny Murphy could miss out with a knee injury, and with Dixon Etuhu and Simon Davies ruled out Jonathan Greening should start in the middle. Konchesky, Dempsey and Duff, all said to have been carrying knocks of late, should start after being spared ninety minutes on Thursday.

Fulham, moreso than anyone else in the league, i'd say, are a side who can never be underestimated. They're a proper footballing side; a set of players who all know their roles and benefit from the lack of 'superstar' egos. It almost feels offensive to label them well-organised, to some degree i think that takes away from the fact that they're one of the best passing sides in the division.

The man i think we should be paying extra attention to is Clint Dempsey. Twice on the scoresheet here last season, he's a player capable of causing anyone problems. We need to watch his runs, he's always a danger from knockdowns, second balls and set-pieces. The other main danger, and similarly a player i like, Jonathan Greening. He's an excellent footballer, in my opinion, was probably the best in the Championship on signing for Fulham, give him any space at all and he can have a real impact on games, we mustn't let him settle.

I fancy us to win tomorrow. With our home record we should expect to beat anyone here. If a side was to unexpectedly beat us, though, a good footballing side like Fulham could be the sort to cause an upset. We must set the tempo of the game right from the whistle. When we score first at home we'll rarely not go on to win, but level at half-time we can become a bit negative and lose confidence.

With Spurs losing at home to Stoke this afternoon, and Liverpool on a poor run, we must win our upcoming games. Four extremely tricky away fixtures to come before Christmas means any dropped points at home could prove costly. Tomorrow's the sort of game we'd have ballsed up in during previous years, polishing Fulham off would be a big three points. No taking your eyes off the ball, please, lads.

Probable teams:
City: Given, Richards, Bridge, Toure, Lescott, de Jong, SWP, Barry, Tevez, Adebayor, Bellamy

Fulham: Schwarzer, Paintsil, Konchesky, Hughes, Hangeland, Greening, Duff, Dempsey, Zamora, Kamara, Gera

Prediction: City 2 Fulham 0

No comments:

Post a Comment