DeadlyDirk Posted November 20, 2009 Share Posted November 20, 2009 Fulham vs Blackburn Rovers Preview: So it's time for a trip down to London as we take on Fulham in this rearranged fixture from September. Once everything is said and done our game in hand will be out of the way and a 3rd of the season will be over. So with that in mind this is a pretty big fixture for both teams. The league table is starting to take shape and in my opinion, where we are in the league after 10pm on Wednesday will be there or thereabouts where we finish this year. It's tricky in someways writing this before the weekend, only 7 points seperate 8th from 19th at the moment, depending on what happens on the weekend we could go into this looking like a team with a shot of finishing in the top half or one in another relegation battle. With Fulham sitting just 2 points above us in the table the same could be said for them. Both teams have tricky away games on the weekend, but ones which we'll be both be hoping to pick up at least 1 point if not all 3. Rovers are away to Bolton of course and Fulham have a trip to the midlands to play the improving Birmingham City. Fulham is never an easy trip, they are well organised, disciplined and stick to their game plan. A settled back four of Panstil, Konchesky, Hangeland and Hughes with the much improved Schwarzer behind them will provide a stern test for the Rovers frontline while the likes of Dempsey, Duff and Gera provide some creativity and goals from midfield. Zamora will be looking to lead the line with support from Kamara or Nevland perhaps. Danny Murphy and Andy Johnson while both injured recentley are doubts for the game and two players I'd like to see watching from the stands. Murphy especially for me showing the passing and creativity which we lack ourselves at times. When Fulham are at their best everything goes through the veteran. Johnson if unavailable is also a big loss to them, I'm not his biggest fan but their is no doubt about his pace and work rate which is what our backline struggles against at times. Did You Know? Only Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester United have conceded less in the league than Fulham this season? We've certainly struggled away from home this season, or have we? Much has been made of our away record but the strength of the opposition is often ignored by the majority of the media. As most of us will know we've played Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and Sunderland in our last 5 away games, none of which are easy games. With the obvious reasons for the top 4 clubs we then have Everton who have consistently finished high in the table in recent seasons plus the fact that they have spent large sums in the past like circa 18m on Fellaini, (The media may suggest their low spenders but I strongly disagree.) then there is Sunderland who have splashed the cash at several players in the last few seasons under several managers. With the exception of Sunderland I never really even expected to have a chance of winning those games so in my eyes our away form almost starts now. Bolton and Fulham may not be easy games but with no disrespect to either team they are as winnable as any other away game barring perhaps the newly promoted teams. As I said earlier, it's tricky writing this before the Bolton game but hopefully we can get something out of that game and really take the game to Fulham. We definitely have a strong chance in this one, afterall we beat them down at their place last season! Did You Know? Alongside ourselves, only rivals Burnley and under pressure Hull have failed to win away from home this season. Key Battles: Samba vs Zamora - The battle of the big men is set for Wednesday as our latest star to extend his contract comes up against the aeril threat of Zamora. I really think Samba will come out on top on this one, Zamora has a good leap on him but Samba still has a few inches on him (Or so I hear ) plus in my opinion has the strength advantage. Zamora has never technically been the greatest of players so I expect Zamora to almost nullify his effect. N'Zonzi vs Dempsey - Whether Dempsey plays on the right or through the center remains to be seen but for me he is their link between midfield and attack who seems to arrive late in the area and come up with important goals. While the defence is occupied with the frontline I hope N'Zonzi assuming he's selected will pick up his late runs and cut out any of his goalscoring opportunities. If Dempsey is allowed to roam free he could well be the one to hurt us in a tightly contested affair. Robinson vs Schwarzer - Well although I don't expect to see them cross each others paths in the games I think this game could come down to the goalkeepers. Everything about the game in terms of recent form, league position and recent records suggests this will be a tight affair and could well come down to the odd goal. I expect chances to be relatively few especially in the first half, both goalkeepers will have to keep their concentration levels up and a few top drawer saves or an error could well be the difference between the two sides. Both goalkeepers in my opinion have improved greatly in the last 12 months and will be hoping to perform well in this one. Recent History: Last 10 League Meetings Rovers P10 W5 D3 L2 GF17 GA13 PT18 Fulham P10 W2 D3 L5 GF13 GA17 PT9 So recent history tells you that over the last few seasons we've faired pretty well against them both home and away, only tasting defeat on 2 occasions. We've outscored them and only conceded a little over a goal a game so once again it suggests it could well be a close game but perhaps Rovers just have the edge. Did You Know? Rovers haven't lost in the league at Craven Cottage in nearly 4 years, that was back in December 2005. Sharing A Common Interest? I can't think of too many people off hand who have played for both sides in recent history other than Damien Duff. Duff was a big player for us back in the day and one of our best young players to come through in a long time. I was always a big fan of Duff and though he did well at Chelsea helping them to win league titles and other major trophies before perhaps becoming surplus to requirement at Stamford Bridge. His time at Newcastle was blighted by injuries, loss of form combined with reaching the latter stages of his career. A move to Newcastle has often hurt the career of many a player, it seems at Fulham Duff has shown signs of recapturing some of his better form but isn't quite at the level he once was. I'd be happy to see him have a good game as long as we come away with 3 points. Then of course there's the manager, Roy Hodgson or 'Woy' if you will who spent nearly 18 months with us. Roy's time with us showed us play some good football and had signs of Roy getting the reputation in England that he seemed to have in the rest of Europe. In his first season the football was good and we qualified for the UEFA Cup, a few months into the following season some poor results and questionable signings saw him sacked leaving us to hire Brian Kidd and get relegated. Hodgson went back to Inter and then on to a host of European clubs as well as international spells at UAE and Finland improving his reputation outside of England. Now Roy is back and doing a good job with Fulham and perhaps over 10 years later finally getting that reputation in England that he enjoyed outside of it. My Damn Opinion: Well if you've got this far then you know I think it'll be a close game, however I say were going to win this one 2-0. It's tricky to say how we'll line up or even what our formation will be especially before the Bolton game. Sam has favoured playing Dunn in behind Di Santo or Roberts while Di Santo was out for much of the season but with the performances from Benni and Roberts in our last outing he may be tempted to change it from the start. Personally I think in such a tricky affair Sam will throw caution to the wind initially and start with one man upfront. I think it'll be tight for an hour or so but I think we can keep Zamora at bay and without Johnson (Hopefully) they won't quite have the pace to hurt us, after an hour or so I expect us to go for it and perhaps throw a couple of extra strikers on who can then hopefully stretch the game and provide us with the firepower to finish them off. Rovers 2-0 is 14/1 at the bookies if anyone fancies a flutter Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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