Newcastle travel to Craven Cottage tomorrow evening where they will do battle with Martin Jol’s Fulham outfit.
Jol was once favoured by fans of NUFC to take over from Chris Hughton, but it was Alan Pardew who got the job and despite the views by some fans that Jol is superior, his Fulham side sit equal on points with us and are just one place above us in the league owing to a slightly better negative goal difference.
I normally view Fulham as a team who keep a tight ship. They sneak a goal or two and try to shut up shop, but this season has been different. They’ve scored more goals than us but also conceded more goals than us but don’t let that fool you. They can give anyone a game on their day and have players who can hurt us such as Dimitar Berbatov who joined from Manchester United in the summer. The Bulgarian striker is currently top scorer at Craven Cottage with five goals.
Team news – Fulham:
Bryan Ruiz has been ruled out for four more weeks after failing to recover from a hamstring injury whilst defender Zdenek Grygera has announced his retirement after struggling to recover from an ACL rupture suffered last 13 months ago.
Kieran Richardson and Alex Kacaniklic are available after fitness issues and Brede Hangeland is available after completing a three game suspension.
Team news – Newcastle:
Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic, Yohan Cabaye, Gabriel Obertan and Steven Taylor are still out injured although there is better news in general with regard to more players who had been out injured. Demba Ba, Cheik Tiote and Davide Santon could all make the game after Alan Pardew admitted their withdrawal against Wigan was more a precautionary move whilst Hatem Ben Arfa could be in line for a return after missing the last few games with a hamstring injury.
Should Cheik Tiote be deemed as fit enough to play he will need to be careful as he is one yellow card away from five bookings and the automatic one game suspension earning five yellow cards warrants. Jonas Gutierrez is in the same position.
Last season we got hammered 5-2 at Craven Cottage so I’m looking for a stark improvement on that. However it will be a tough ask as we generally don’t do terribly well at Fulham. Our last win on the banks of the River Thames came in this week five years ago courtesy of a late Joey Barton penalty.
In ten Premier League visits we’ve won down there just three times with the other seven matches at Fulham ending in home wins for the Cottagers. In total there have been 31 games played at Craven Cottage in all competitions throughout the years. Fulham have won 18 times compared to just eight victories for United.
Stats and facts:
Fulham have won five of their last six home matches against United.
However they have not won in seven games and haven’t scored in over three games.
Alan Pardew celebrates two years in charge of United this week.
It seems to be one step forward and two steps back this season. Granted we managed to win against Wigan but we played against ten men for the bulk of the game and I doubt it would have been as simple had we faced eleven all night, but a win is a win and we can only play what is put in front of us.
Midweek was disappointing but it was also a very different side to what we are likely to see tomorrow. The question is will they build on what they managed against Wigan last week or will they fall back in the wake of the midweek defeat to Bordeaux?
Howay the lads!
Date: Monday, 10th December, 2012
Time: 8pm – Live on Sky Sports
Venue: Craven Cottage