In the Premier League, these two have played 19 times to date – 7 wins for NUFC, 3 draws and 9 times Fulham have been the victors. At Craven Cottage (and Loftus Rd), Newcastle have yet to draw a game, won 3 and lost 6. Since 2005, neither team has scored more than 2 goals in this game, it tends to be very tight.
In 15 of the 19 games, one of the teams have failed to score more than 1 goal – the highest scoring tally coming in November 2004, when Fulham destroyed NUFC at St. James’ Park 1-4.
Fulham currently languish 8 places below the Magpies, with half the games won, 2 more draws and 3 more losses – a difference of 13 points. Recently, Martin Jol’s side have not had a great time; the 3-1 away defeat to 10-men, struggling Blackburn proved how frail a side they can actually be.
They have picked up 8 points from the last 18 available, 2 nice wins against Arsenal and Bolton squeezed in between that embarrassing display at Ewood Park and an abysmal show at home to Man Utd where they were swatted for 5!
Fulham have been very similar to NUFC since establishing themselves as a Premier League force; peaks, troughs, managers, players and seasons long of inconsistency.
What NUFC are up against:
When it comes to comparing Fulham with the rest of the Premier League, they fair just as average as Newcastle do in most stakes. However, only Aston Villa score less goals from set pieces – it was noted last week that NUFC used to be the bearers of this title, but smashes from Demba Ba v West Brom and Cabaye v Man Utd have lifted their total to 5.
Fulham also initiate the least attacks in the entire Premier League from the left hand side. Just 27% of their build up originates there, meaning Ryan Taylor/Gabriel Obertan should have license to play a little higher up to produce quality to the box.
Fulham do create the most attacks in the Premier League from the middle of the pitch (39%). Danny Murphy will be the man to watch; with Yohan Cabaye doubtful to play, NUFC are going to have to plug the central areas with quality to stem Fulham’s main threat.
Finally, only Wigan and Swansea spend less time in the opposition half than FFC. 27% of Fulham’s play is spent in possession in the opposing half – NUFC can expect to see a good share of the ball, especially in the defensive third and they must ensure they produce quality with its use.
Clint Demspey – The American produces the 4th most shots-per-game in the PL currently with 4 on average. He does however only have 6 goals from 85 shots, 50% of which he gets on target, and his chance conversion rate is just 9%. For the record, Bobby Zamora has the top conversion rate at FFC with 20%; 4 goals from 10 shots on target.
Danny Murphy – The Englishman manufactures most passes at Fulham (1268). This includes most in the attacking half, most in the final third and the 4th most key passes per game in the Premier League – the same as David Silva (2.8). Murphy also produces the most chances at Fulham (55), although 28 are from set plays. Moussa Dembele and Clint Demspey sit on 31, the same as Yohan Cabaye – NUFC’s top creator.
Speaking of Dembele, he has extraordinary defensive numbers for a forward – 52/64, the highest at Fulham and he has also been involved in and won the most 50-50 ground duels – 58% of 274 won.
Brede Hangeland – The Norwegian has produced the most total clearances at Fulham with 152, more than double 2nd placed John Arne Riise and Chris Baird (62) and he has been responsible for 91 headed clearances, nearly 3 times any other Fulham player. NUFC need to be very wary of their fancied long ball game tomorrow.
This one won’t be an easy encounter by any stretch of the imagination. With Tiote and Ba still away and the possible absence of Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle could enter this game without their 3 best players and not many teams on the continent could cope with that.
Last week proved that NUFC can win games in adversity though, but they will have to perform a lot better than they did against lowly QPR – getting just 1 shot on target will not suffice this week.
Leon Best should have a new lease of life after his very well taken goal and the arrival of Papiss Demba Cisse may add that extra incentive for Best to play out of his skin. Whether Shola Ameobi starts is obviously the manager’s choice; but his dismal and unproductive display last week will not have done his chances any favours. The introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa brought life to a dark game and the Frenchman is NUFC’s best weapon for creativity.
NUFC_Stats prediction: 1-1