Newcastle return to Premier League action following an enforced break due to Everton’s participation in the FA Cup last weekend.
The venue is Craven Cottage which hasn’t generally been a happy hunting ground for us over the years although Fulham, on their third manager of the season as they battle against relegation, have been woeful this term.
Things haven’t been going great for United either although admittedly they could be a lot worse. Our last game (yes we did play a game, it wasn’t just a headbutt!) ended quite well with us leaving Hull City’s KC Stadium with three points and a 4-1 scoreline in the bag.
More of the same will do very nicely indeed although any victory masterminded by Alan Pardew will have had to be finalised without the supervision of our manager who starts the first leg of his seven match ban meaning that he is forbidden from setting foot inside Craven Cottage. I am however half expecting to see a man in the crowd with a raincoat on wearing one of those big nose/big glasses joke facial disguise things.
Former Magpies Damien Duff and Scott Parker are both nursing knee injuries with the former ruled out completely and the latter reported as being doubtful for the visit of the club he used to skipper.
International duty has not been kind to United with French pair Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy both returning with injuries that will rule them out for the rest of the month. Hatem Ben Arfa is also listed as unavailable while Davide Santon, Rob Elliot and Sammy Ameobi are doubtful.
However it is better news on the defensive front as Fabricio Coloccini will return to the side after missing the trip to Hull through compassionate leave. Expect to see Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa shifted to right-back with Mike Williamson pairing up with Coloccini in the centre of defence.
As mentioned earlier, Craven Cottage has not been kind to us. We’ve not won there since 2007 when a Joey Barton penalty gave us a late victory and have lost the following four trips on the banks of the Thames.
At Fulham there has been 30 games played between the two sides with Fulham winning 18 times and only 7 wins for United. At St James’ Park United have won 15 times with Fulham recording 8 wins out of 31 meetings.
That means that historically Fulham have the edge over us having won 26 of the 61 contests. United have won 22 matches while there have been 13 draws over the years.
Stats and facts…
Fulham have the worst home defence in the league having shipped 31 goals from their 14 home matches.
The Cottagers have not won in nine league games and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 14 league outings.
A win against Fulham would give United their second league double of the season, and their 8th league victory on the road.
Three of Newcastle’s last five wins against Fulham have come courtesy of an injury-time winner.
I note, with extreme caution I add, that the oracle known by the name of Paul Merson has predicted a win for us. Whilst he probably can’t predict whether or not he’s going to wet himself today I do hate it when we are predicted to win.
Everything points to an away victory or at the very least a share of the spoils. Fulham can’t buy a win and that is precisely my problem. If there is ever a run of form to be broken or a goalscoring drought to end it invariably happens against us. Well it does in my head anyway. Call me superstitious if you like. The only saving grace is that Damien Duff shouldn’t be playing barring a miraculous recovery, which could also happen against us.
Fun aside, I do have issue with the way we go into these games. For whatever reason we just seem to be unable to get up for it in the same way we can when playing (with all due respect to Fulham here) bigger clubs like Manchester United etc.
Still, I guess that is something for John Carver to sort out…
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 15th March, 2014
Venue: Craven Cottage