Fulham v Newcastle – Premier League match preview

Game On at Craven Cottage

Newcastle tackle Fulham
Well, what a 2012 it has been so far for us NUFC supporters!

A hat-trick of victories including a sound whipping of Manchester United and safe passage to the 4th round of the FA Cup has been followed up by the surprise signing of prolific goal scoring machine and International team-mate of Demba Ba – Papiss Demba Cisse.

This weekend we travel to London hoping to continue our good fortunes with victory at Fulham’s home ground – Craven Cottage. Be prepared though, now that Michael Jackson has come back from the dead to take up the role of head gatekeeper, I have it on great authority that no NUFC fans will be allowed access unless they can pull off either a credible moondance or crotch grab. The choice is yours….


Martin Jol has an almost full compliment of players to chose from with the exception of Zdenek Grygera (cruciate ligament) and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (back). Moussa Dembele suffered a knock against Blackburn recently and is touch and go.

Squad from: Stockdale, Etheridge, Kelly, Riise, Hangeland, Baird, Senderos, Hughes, Briggs, Sidwell, Kasami, Murphy, Gecov, Duff, Etuhu, Frei, Dempsey, Davies, Johnson, Sa, Ruiz, Zamora, Dembele.

Newcastle United:

Sammy Ameobi (knee) has joined fellow long term absentees Steven Taylor (achilles) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) on the sidelines. New signing Papiss Demba Cisse will not be available until Senegal get knocked out of, or win, the African Cup of Nations (ACON). The same applies to his Intenational teammate Demba Ba as well as Ivorian Cheick Tiote. Yohan Cabaye (ankle) is touch and go whilst questions remain over Peter Lovenkrands’ calf injury and length of time on the treatment table.

Squad from: Krul, Elliot, Perch, Santon, Ferguson R Taylor, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Guthrie, Gutierrez, Smith, Abeid, Gosling, Cabaye, Obertan, Ben Arfa, Vuckic, Best, Shola Ameobi. (Yes, we are a bit thin on the ground at the minute!)

Shamrock’s top-10 really interesting stats and facts:

1 – Since Fulham joined the top flight in 2001, they have hosted Newcastle nine times. The Toon have only won three of those games, losing the other six. Our last victory at Craven Cottage was in 2007 thanks to an injury time penalty converted by Joey Barton.

2 – Yohan Cabaye has the 2nd most successful tackles in the Premier League this season with 77. Top spot goes to QPR’S Alejandro Faurlin with 90, whilst Wigan’s Mohamed Diame takes 3rd place with 76.

3 – Fulham (232) create more shots at goal than Newcastle (198) and have a higher percentage of shots on target than us by a good 5%. The difference is though, the Magpies need less than three chances to actually put one in the back of the net compared to the Cottagers, who need almost five. Total goals yielded: Toon (30), Fulham (23).

4 – Fulham are the Premier Leagues 8th best passers with 7558. Our boys are placed a fairly surprisingly poor 13th with 6063.

5 – Right a bit of betting now. Looking at Paddy Power and weirdly Fulham are hot favourites for this one with odds of 21/20 compared to Newcastle’s good value for 11/4. Now then, traditionally games between these two sides have been tight. Only one of the last ten games has been drawn and eight of those have been won by only one goal.

With our defence being pretty water tight at the minute and Leon Best bound to be in a confident mood after his sublime goal against QPR, a bet on a 1-0 Toon victory with Best netting the decider would fetch a tidy 45-1!

6 – Danny Murphy has five assists this season, that accounts for almost 25% of Fulham’s goals. He might be getting on a bit, but if Newcastle want something out of this game then Murphy has to be kept quiet.

7- A Newcastle United win will be a great early present for Captain Fabricio Coloccini – It’s his 30th birthday the following day.

8- Newcastle’s biggest league win over Fulham came in Division ONe back in August 1960. The game at St James’ Park finished 7-2. Perhaps the most exciting encounter between the two sides was a 5-4 win for the Toon whilst visiting Fulham in the 4th round of the FA Cup in 1956.

9- Danny Murphy scored his 100th Career goal against the Toon at Craven Cottage during a 2-1 win for the hosts in 2008. Andy Johnson and Shola Ameobi grabbed the other goals. Murphy and Johnson are both available for this weekend’s game. Lets hope lightning does not strike twice eh?

10- Last up – Alan Pardew has taken charge of four games against Fulham during his managerial career. He has won three of those and lost one. Meanwhile, Martin Jol has been in charge against Newcastle seven times. He has won two and lost five.

Tactical thoughts and ponderings:

Right, I have been pretty ignorant of the last two teams we faced in terms of tactics (There were good reasons as explained though!). This week we can resume normal service as we face a club with a settled manager, players and formation. They have a few decent options at their disposal both on the wings and up front, meaning predicting exact personnel is a tad difficult however, Fulham will play a 4-4-2 with scope to change to a 4-1-4-1 and close games down later on.

As the passing stats above show, the Cottagers are good on the ball and like to keep it on the ground. Having a Dutch manager with Spurs as one of his previous clubs, Fulham were always going to try to get as close to the ‘Total Football’ style of play that personnel and practicality would allow with Jol at the helm.

Jol will have dedicated full backs, and central midfielders with a good understanding of keeping one back for protection and distribution, with one looking to get involved in linking up the middle of the park with the forwards. His wingers will have no problems drifting in-field, meaning our defence is likely to be pulled all over the park and opened up unless they can keep their shape. Good job they can then eh?!

Fulham have started each of their last three games with a settled back five consisting of Stockdale, Kelly, Senderos, Hangeland and Riise. Former Toon star Aaron Hughes has been out of the side, but can come in and do well too, so they have options. This is a pretty solid defensive line with experience at all levels. Hangeland in particular is a big threat to us from corners and I can see Williamson and Coloccini struggling with this as they are not quite on Steven Taylor’s level when it comes to aerial prowess. Senderos does not really like the physical side of the game. He will pass the ball out of defence and set up counter attacks, but as a defender he is not actually that impressive. It’s a shame Ba is not about to bully him out of the game.

We all know Riise has an absolute cannon of a left foot, so free kicks around our box and giving him time and space from 30 yards or closer to our goal is an absolute no-no. Danny Simpson will have to keep a sharp eye on him and direct the likes of Danny Guthrie over to assist him when Riise and Dempsey team up. We don’t want Simmo being exposed by trying to stop Riise getting into striking range, only to have Dempsey take advantage of the exposed space behind him.

Dempsey normally plays on the left wing, but he will cut inside with ease and takes a lot of shots on goal. He also has a good header on him so will be a threat for defensive set plays. On his day he is unplayable, but like Laurent Robert used to be he is not the most consistent of players. Hopefully we’ll catch him on an off day, but he has been in the press crowing about beating us – so he’s motivated for this match… Dempsey’s crossing stats are not great, so if he does sneak past Simpson to the by-line, we should not be too concerned. However, he can use that space to cut inside and shoot on goal (average of a shot on target every 55 or so minutes).

Moving on to the right and it will either be Ruiz as an advanced winger or Damien Duff. Again, both have the ability to cut inside and cause havoc with trickery and pace so it’s a good job we have the very capable Davide Santon to marshal that threat with pace and composure on the ball to play us out of trouble.

Danny Murphy will sit deep and spray the ball about. He can get forward though and when he shoots, he tends to find the target more often than not. He is very experienced and knows how to find that killer pass. He is Fulham’s heart and has five assists as well as a couple of goals this season. Keeping him quiet will invariably keep Fulham quiet. We could do with Yohan Cabaye being fit for this game, as he is intelligent enough to recognise what Murphy is trying to do and can dictate to those around him how best to counter it. I’m not sure anybody else in our available squad has what it takes to take Murphy on. Guthrie is not a bad option mind, if Gosling or Abeid cover the defensive role…

There are questions over Dembele’s fitness at the minute and he is touch and go for the Toon game. If he plays, he will drop very deep to bulk up the midfield numbers and can be quite physical. The downside for him, is that he is not prolific by any means in front of goal (1 goal in 20 odd Premier League appearances). Furthermore, he does not assist too many either, with two this season. Martin Jol likes to have a ‘little and large’ type of partnership up front, i.e one player to do the hard graft (Dembele) and one to do the finishing (Zamora).

I don’t understand all this transfer talk about Zamora leaving Fulham. He is probably their best striker, although if you believe the press then he and Jol do not see eye to eye. Personally I don’t believe this story – simply because Zamora is starting games (25 this season). If Jol did not like the lad, he would not be in his team? Zamora is intelligent. He will hang off the shoulder of the last defender and time his runs well. He can shoot from outside the area with power and accuracy and he is physically strong enough to avoid being bullied out of the game. On his day, he is unplayable, but again not the most consistent of players.

Elsewhere in midfield, Fulham could chose any of several options. They could chose to play Sidwell with Murphy for possession and attacking threat, Ruiz as an advanced attacking midfielder/striker and leave Murphy sat deep, or play Etuhu as the anchorman and let Murphy concentrate on setting up attacks with his supreme passing ability and footballing intelligence.

Overall, Fulham are very good with the ball at their feet. They create plenty of chances by going narrow and have a decent defensive unit. Luckily for us, their forwards have a history this season of not burying their chances but we should not be fooled. It only takes one chance to finish a game, so we will have to work hard for the points.

There have been a few calling for Hatem Ben Arfa to start on the right. I can’t see that happening for this one and imagine Gabriel Obertan will get a chance to build up his reputation and confidence away from the unforgiving cauldron that is St James’ Park. The away supporters generally seem a bit more clued up and supportive of the lads and are more likely to give him an opportunity to show his ahem… ability. Personally I’m not convinced by him at all as a regular starter, but have decided to wait until the end of the season before my judgement is passed.

The reason I can see Obertan starting, is because I expect Ben Arfa to start behind one main striker (Leon Best). Hangeland is fairly solid, but not the fastest and has been shown to make mistakes when put under pressure by speedy attackers. I can see us having success with Best physically attacking Senderos and Benny running at Hangeland. If we have Gutierrez and Obertan doing what they naturally tend to do – cut inside – then there should be plenty of opportunity for link up play with Ben Arfa and plenty of free kicks won around the Fulham penalty area with Hangeland being drawn into fouls. With this approach, I think the lads will find a way through.

Touch wood Cabaye is available, because I think Abeid is not ready for this kind of battle yet and Gosling is not cut out for the kind of defensive work we will require from our central midfielders. Ryan Taylor may be an option, as we will need somebody on the pitch who can take free kicks – but I’m not sure he is intelligent enough to take on the likes of Murphy. If Andy Johnson starts due to Dembele being injured, we should step our defensive line up a bit higher – because he is a fox in the box and will jump on the smallest mistake. Simpson and Santon should have the pace to recover if the line gets broken..


The man in the middle for this one is Lee Mason, or ‘Fat Head’ as I like to think of him as. He’s 40-years-old and from Bolton. His brother used to play for Bolton and Lee himself still lives in the area. He has been a Top Flight Referee for five years and has a long history of being a linesman before that. Other than that, not a lot to report. No International or European experience, no big Cup Finals. This season he has taken charge of our draw with Swansea and the Cup win over Nottingham Forest. All in all, he has been in charge of us ten times with a very average three wins and four draws to show for the Toon.

A quick word from Danny Guthrie:

“It’s a tough place to go, Fulham, and they’re a good side at home so we’re expecting a hard game. But we’re going into every game really confident, because we are where we are because we do well.

“We’ve won all three games in 2012, and three home wins as well. Everyone knows how important your home form is, so we want to take that into our first away game of the year.”

Fulham V Newcastle United
Venue: Craven Cottage, Fulham
Date:Saturday 21st January 2012
Kick Off: 15:00

Howay the lads!

65 thoughts on “Fulham v Newcastle – Premier League match preview

  1. Excellent preview, as always.
    Although my head still in the clouds, my feet are still firmly on the ground so I will be satisfied with a point.
    Three are obtainable but I feel we tend to build ourselves up for a big fall with these sorts of games ๐Ÿ˜‰


  2. Fulham, to now, have been mainly their own worst enemy. If NUFC can keep pushing them into the middle of the pitch, then Fulham seems to bog themselves down and surrender possession. But like Newcastle, they can strike from the blue, and that may be just how thes one plays out. Lots of resilute defending, possession changes and then a surprise goal. Needless to say, if the whole Toon squad was around, Fulham would be hanging on, but as it is fingers crossed for a draw.


  3. my team for tomorrow

    simpson colo willo santon
    benny raylor guthrie gutierez

    please dont play shola or perch please!!!


  4. โ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ..krulโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆ.


  5. or



  6. sooooooooooooo hope we dont play shola and best upfront as all we will do all game is hoof the ball upfront !! since benny came on last sunday we started to play football and pass the ball around which destroys teams!!


  7. tomorrow we will be without 4 massive players for us … ba , tiote , cabaye and wait for it …………CISSE!!! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    cant wait til all 4 of them are playing in the same team


  8. look at this attacking team


    ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ WHAT A TEAM!!!!!!!!!


    January 20, 2012 at 15:05
    Sham excellent read mate.
    Army you like that team that you pick it twice.

    Cos i wrote it wrong!! ๐Ÿ˜†


  10. My team for this game would be the one that finished the QPR game. Start Jonas in the middle, Best on the left and let him wander, as Ruiz doesn’t track back he could find himself in some space, Or use Best as the striker and Obertan in there. Either way We can’t play 442 away with the middle 4 being guthrie,taylor,best and ameobi that would result in us getting smashed!


  11. I have read that Fulham will be missing Sa and Dembele , i think it will be a tight game but the mood around the Newcastle camp will edge it for us 2-1 .


  12. Army69@8- Spot on mate ,said the same thing meself last night. I think @6 is the best line up ,like Obertan behind Best ,think he’s much more suited to that than on the wing cause he can’t cross well or at the right time. Needs to learn to hold his head up and pick the cross at the right time more.


  13. aye kim i think obertan is a headless chicken and will be a better headless chicken just behind best!!

    whos excited for the senegal match tomorrow night?? i am!!!

    i hope ba and cisse play class but senegal get beat ๐Ÿ˜Ž


  14. Fulham is really a good team especially Ruiz, Dembele and Dempsey (or Kerim Frei) are very dangerous and have nice skill. I see 3 or 4 games of fulham against Liverpool and Arsenal and they were really dangerous. But their defense is really poor, too slow and make some stupid mistake sometimes. If we are able to score the first goal, I believe we can have win.
    Hope Benny will get a start, I think he will start after Pardew words. And for the guys who think that Benny has give the ball away too much in the last game, just look to this video, in my opinion he was really class in this game especially in his control and pass.


  15. semi finals of the african cup of nations is 8th february so if senegal arent in that im sure they wil be in contention to play spurs


  16. Army69- I’m just praying that they don’t pick up any knocks while away , couldn’t stand it if after all this they don’t get chance to line up for us. But yeh i’m looking forward to tommorows match too. ๐Ÿ˜€


  17. Question for everyone:

    It’s 31st Jan and we receive an offer from Chelsea for Tiote and it’s ยฃ25m. Would you sell?


  18. This be a tought game , Fulham are a good side. A draw be a good result but hopefully we get the 3 points!


  19. @23 – No. Keep him and push for a Europa place. Guthrie is injury prone and we cannot rely on him and the likes of Gosling or Abeid to get us over the line.

    He is on a long term contract, if they want him that much they will come in for him during the summer with a similar price, when are better equipped to replace him before the next competitive game.

    Anyway, Essien is due back soon so they probably wont bother.


  20. Stuart79@23- Yeh i think you would have too at that price and Guthrie has been doing a fine job in Tiote absence imo. Plus with 25m and our scouts on form at the mo we’d probs pick up another brilliant Frenchie or 2 for that. ๐Ÿ˜†


  21. Nobby – I grew up in Hexham and didn’t get so much as a sniff of a single mythical ham, let alone 6 of the feckers! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ


  22. ยฃ25 million right at the end of the window with no time to replace and only having an injury prone Guthrie…no way at all. Right on the cusp of a European spot and you lot are willing to let him go for a bit of a pay day? Unreal.


  23. TC, Nobby – Mohamed Al Fayed is a Muslim and may not eat pork, therefore he may have banned it from Fulham in order to avoid temptation?


  24. Shamrock@25 -Abeid will get better and better more games he gets and Guthrie has been really good too .Add gosling and i’m sure we got enough there to see us to summer when we can reinforce with the 25m . Tiote is a great player but i’m always on edge that he’ll pick up a red as he flies too close to the wind imo. The two players i defo don’t wanna see go is Krul and Colo.


  25. I would take ยฃ25m for Tiote tomorrow if we could get Mbiwa and Vertonghen and Mike could even keep the change.


  26. Evilfrankiy@29- IF the bid came in and he left, by definition that means he was happy to leave us so why not make the 25m and be shot of someone who don’t wanna play for the shirt.


  27. Kim – 40 PL games, 0 red cards. He has a total of 3 in 179 career appearances. He is a machine and part of our side’s heart.

    How can you say Abeid will pull us through? He has played 2 games for us and is too inexperienced to be relied on for the run in, which is tough.

    Guthrie will be injured again between now and end of season if his history is anything to go by, and Gosling is not a defensive midfielder. What’s the point in taking the money and putting a place in Europe at risk? No good having a nice bank account if you are stuck in mid table unable to convince any decent players to come in as you prove pver and over again that you have no ambition to play in Europe?

    We might have convinced a couple so far, but if they see us miss this opportunity this season, they wont be fooled – and Colo wont sign his contract.


  28. Stuart79 – I don’t think any of us would.. But none of us own Newcastle United ๐Ÿ™„

    My team for tomorrow:


    Think Fulham have 2 big physical CBs in Hangaland and Senderos, but they are slow. Ariel battle we’ll loose but Benny can beat them on the ground and win freekicks from their clumsy tackles.
    Bonus having Dembele missing but Dempsey is a top player and they have goals in Zamora if he plays.
    We can win this game with the right mentality. I know it’s an away game but there is 3 points there if we play as we did against Man Utd – NOT as we did against QPR


  29. Kim, he does play for the shirt though? Anybody can see that. If the club tell him they have accepted an offer for him and he no longer features in their plans, he might think differently. Your argument makes no sense to me personally.


  30. 25 million won’t be enough to get Tiote . He still has a long time on his contract and the Carroll deal proves that if anyone wants our stars then its going to be pay over the odds and well over the players worth to get him.


  31. By the way sham – I’m not trying to suck your arse or anything but you always do a decent preview… this one included.

    I’ll take my tongue out your hoop now and say… this one is defo close and my head tells me 2-1 to fulham (we’ll score first goal). So if I was a betting man that’s where my dosh would be.

    My heart tells me 0-4 toon.


  32. Nobby – Cheers mate ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m worried about this one too. Before this week, I was unaware that Fulham’s home form is pretty horrifying for anybody visiting them. It’s on their travels that they are letting themselves down. The Cottage is a real fortress at the minute and we will have to be at our best to beat them, or even get a point! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Looking forward to it though, as it will show how the lads can handle themselves playing a good side without our ‘engine’ and goal machine ๐Ÿ™‚


  33. Kim..agree with Shamrock, if the club accept a bid, maybe he would feel unwanted?
    Apart from the Geordies in the squad, none of the players will have grown up “dreaming” of playing for Newcastle United. Nearly all players are in it for money and trophies . If a bigger club offers any of our players that and we can’t then they’ll want away, all we can ask and hope for is that they give their best while they are here, Tiote et al are doing that.
    It’s up to the club to create the scenario, where players won’t want to leave and can fufill their ambitions here and turn down bids for players they want to keep.


  34. Shamrock – How can Abeid ever get experience if he’s not getting games . And I take it you think we should of kept Andy Carroll on the last day And not taken the 35m for him as well then, was that bad business on our part, no he wanted to go and Ba stepped up to the plate as people often do .Who would of thought Raylor would step up so well for us.Finally do you think we really got owt to worry about with Ba and Cisse up front, christ we should have no bother winning games with that strike force but hey it’s a game of opinions as they say. ๐Ÿ™‚


  35. Someone on Twitter asked Gary Glitter if his new book would be available as PDF file. ๐Ÿ˜†

    And the daft twonk responded too! ๐Ÿ˜†


  36. Richietoon@41-Presumably a player can say i don’t want to go i’m happy here. On the other hand if he hears a cl club are after him and expresses a desire to leave then why would we hang on to him .That’s all i’m saying ,for me playing for the shirt is everything as it gives players that extra 10% imo.


  37. 1)Cisse has no Premiership experience, lets not put too much pressure on him.

    2) Guthrie gets injured for 2 months, Abeid with 1 PL start in his entire career is suddenly thrust into the line up for the long haul during a tough run in, when teams start trting harder. – Sensible management? No.

    3) Ba was not signed until 6 months AFTER the sale of Carroll. If we had a decent striker for that run in, we will have finished a few positions higher in the league.

    4) Yes, I do think we have something to worry about if we get rid of Tiote and dont replace him, with Ba and Cisse up front. A) Cisse will need time to bed in and B) No good having great players up front if we cant get the ball to them because we are too busy defending thanks to a lightweight midfield.


  38. Shamrock- Great preview by the way. I just think it’s all ifs, buts and maybes .If we hadn’t capitulated against WB last game we could of been higher ,if we didn’t get bad ref calls this season we’d be higher and so on. I have faith in Pards to pick the right guy’s for the job .He’s done alright so far and we have coped without tiote so far too. Truth is even the very best teams and players play utter shite sometimes and under acheive.


  39. KimT…yeah a player can refuse and could do so if they really wanted but it rarely happens and if a club accepts a bid then maybe that player will feel the club doesn’t want them it doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy to leave as you suggest Tiote would be. As I said few if any of our players will have dreamt of playing for newcastle all their careers, they come for money or use us as a stepping stone, only winning trophies, being in the Champions league regularly and the club not accepting bids for players they want to keep will ever change that but as it stands I doubt any of our players would turn down a big club, should we get rid of them all now?


  40. If you dont have the resources, you dont achieve your targets and that has an ffect on future reputation, exposure and attraction – meaning continued failure or at least less chance of success – as you cant evidence ambition when you had the cahnce. Simples … Unless you think throwing excess cash at players this summer to convince them to join is the best option? Then we are back to square one with mercenaries and greed.

    Anyway, moving on – Reckon tomorrow will see a 1-1 draw and us holding on…


  41. Richie @51- Thank fuck for that ,was startin to feel like Billie no mates ๐Ÿ˜† And where is Stuart79, ๐Ÿ™„


  42. Stuart79 says:
    January 20, 2012 at 15:40
    Question for everyone:
    Itโ€™s 31st Jan and we receive an offer from Chelsea for Tiote and itโ€™s ยฃ25m. Would you sell?
    No I wouldn’t. In the summer, possibly…


  43. Kim… No I wouldn’t, but that wasn’t my point, you were saying if the club accepts a bid and the player goes he didn’t want to play for the shirt, I disagree with that bit, it’s not always that cut and dry. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  44. Fulham are a difficult side at home and are improving under Jol. I would say a 1-1 score with Ben Arfa scoring for us. Jol has an eye for talent but some of his team are getting old. Murphy probably has only 1 more season left in those legs. Arguing over Tiote doesn’t really make sense. I think it is 50/50 whether he will stay past the window. The owner won’t turn down a really huge offer but I agree with Shamrock. We aren’t ready to play without him for long. He is the stopper who wins the ball and gets us on the attack. Moreso than Cabaye he is very effective against the big teams as with our win against ManU. We have nobody in the squad remotely like him. His size and work rate are tremendous. He needs a string of games to be at his best as far as passing is concerned but I wouldn’t let him go. We would lose a place or two in the standings if we do.


  45. As long as we go to Fulham fully focussed, we should get something from the game.
    London used to be our bogey city but we have put to bed that hoodoo.

    I fancy Leon Best.

    I mean I fancy Leon Best to score. ๐Ÿ˜€


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