Fulham (A) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

Eight weeks ago to the day, we were battered 3-0 at Brighton and looked every bit a relegation side. The result left us just two clear of Fulham heading into a tough set of fixtures.

I won’t have been the only one who thought we were as good as gone at that point and needed to sack Steve Bruce to have any hope of staying up.

While our current head coach is anything but the answer moving forward, I’m happy to say he’s proved me wrong in terms of his ability to keep us in the Premier League this season – not that this should ever have been on the cards with the squad at his disposal.

OK, Fulham have tailed off far more than most of us anticipated – they’ve picked up just TWO points since we lost to Brighton back in March – but the fact we’ve gained 14 in that time, winning four and taking big points off Spurs and Liverpool, is a brilliant effort regardless of what those below have done.

Does that mean we should be heading to Craven Cottage celebrating Premier League survival? No. Does that mean Bruce is now the answer? Again, no. But I am happy to be eating a small slice of humble pie heading into a final day game that I honestly expected to have so much more riding on it.

Instead, we arrive in London knowing a win could see us better last season’s points tally and end the season as high as 12th if all results go our way. That’s not exactly progress based on the squad at Bruce’s disposal, but it’s a damn sight better than I was expecting back in March.

It’ll be our first away game where fans are back and a chance to play with the shackles off and perhaps hand rare minutes to a few rarely-seen youngsters. Let’s hope we can take inspiration from the last time we went to Craven Cottage (a 4-0 win under Rafa) and end the season in style.

Team news

  • Allan Saint-Maximin – Nothing serious after limping of on Wednesday night, but Bruce said he’ll only play in this one if he came through training on Friday.
  • Martin Dubrakva – Was holding his hamstring in midweek and has since been called up to the Slovakia squad. Bruce was hopeful he’d be fine for Fulham, but is it really worth risking him?
  • Fabian Schar – Back from suspension after a three-match ban.
  • Elliot Anderson – Missed out in the midweek. Let’s hope his hip is OK so he can make is PL debut from the bench at Fulham!
  • Callum Wilson – Ruled out a hamstring injury.
  • Isaac Hayden – Back in light training after a serious knee injury but unlikely to be risked.
  • Ryan Fraser – See above. Has been back on the grass, however it seems he won’t be involved.
  • Karl Darlow – Still recovering from a minor knee operation and will be forced to sit this one out.
  • Jamaal Lascelles – Not needed now we’re safe, so no need to rush him back from a stress fracture in his foot.

Predicted lineup

(5-3-2): Gillespie – Murphy, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Ritchie – Willock, Shelvey (c), Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Joelinton.

Dubravka may well make it, but I see no point in risking a player who clearly tweaked his hamstring just a few days ago. One goal kick struck slightly wrong and he’s out of the Euros, so let’s give former Academy graduate Mark Gillespie his Premier League debut?

Darlow is injured and Woodman is excelling on loan at Swansea, so this may be one of very few occasions Bruce feels able to hand him a start.

In defence, Krafth has actually done little wrong since coming in, helping us to a clean sheet in midweek and scoring against City, however he’s not a centre-back and one of our best ones is available again in Fabian Schar. He’d been out for a while before his ban and will want minutes before the Euros – not to mention the fact he’s well suited to a five-man defence and still playing for his future at NUFC.

Elsewhere, it sounds like ASM will be ok to play – a player we can’t really do without when Wilson is missing – however it remains to be seen if Elliot Anderson will feature. It would be nice to see our best U23 get his Premier League debut – especially when Bruce denied him a Championship loan move to give him exactly that!

If he’s not involved, hopefully we see a glimpse of forgotten man Matty Longstaff for the first time since January, with him being another local lad in need of game time.

Match prediction

I fancy this to be a fairly open game with a few goals in it.

I’ve been surprised just how flat and dejected Scott Parker’s side have looked, not only since they were officially relegated but in the weeks leading up to it when they still had a chance, however they will be keen to end a bad season on a high in front of their fans and attempt to build a bit of momentum ahead of another big season in the Championship.

That said, a lot of their best players are loanees who won’t be around for 2021/22 and those who will are a level below the likes of Lookman, Andersen and Lemina, so I don’t see us losing – and SportsBettingDime.com appear to agree based on the latest odds!

Saint-Maximin and Shelvey to score in a 2-2 draw that’ll see us end the season in 14th – on the basis that Burnley will win at Sheffield United (and remain below us on goal difference), Brighton pick up a point at Arsenal and Southampton lose at West Ham.

Prediction: Fulham 2-2 Newcastle

Follow us on Twitter (@NUFCBlogcouk) and on Facebook HERE

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

51 thoughts on “Fulham (A) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

  1. Every goal kick is struck the wrong way Olly!!!!

    Dubs is a brilliant ‘keeper, crap kicker though 🙂

      (Quote)

  2. Congrats to young Freddie Woodman for making the play off finals with Swansea 👏🏼

      (Quote)

  3. As for NUFC tomorrow I would like to see young Anderson & Matty get a run out. It’s a nothing game really so why not give them a run out – play Carroll 🤷🏼‍♂️.

    I can’t say I care one way or another about this one to be honest – which when you consider what might have been riding on this game is a good thing really.

      (Quote)

  4. Last pre-match preview of the season but won’t be long until we’re back for 2021/22! Hope you’ve enjoyed them & my post-match pieces.

    I’ll keep the top banner of the blog filled with a few long-reads over the summer to make up for the lack of match preview / post-match reports.

    Let’s hope we can end on a high with a win at Fulham! 🙂 I’m just relieved it’s not a winner-takes-all relegation clash!

      (Quote)

  5. Great stuff all year Olly. You and the rest of the crew have been brilliant.

      (Quote)

  6. Olly, mate. Euros start June 11 so football is not going anwhere. Plus the final is at Wembley.

    30 years of hurt! That was 1996. Almost NUFC standard. 55 years of hurt now.

      (Quote)

  7. I didnt have a grey hair on my head last time England won anything and Nobby Stiles was alive.

      (Quote)

  8. Olly Hawkins:
    Last pre-match preview of the season but won’t be long until we’re back for 2021/22! Hope you’ve enjoyed them & my post-match pieces.

    I’ll keep the top banner of the blog filled with a few long-reads over the summer to make up for the lack of match preview / post-match reports.

    Let’s hope we can end on a high with a win at Fulham! 🙂 I’m just relieved it’s not a winner-takes-all relegation clash!

    Olly – cheers fella, but don’t be booking any holidays just yet mate – what with the takeover this summer, new manager, all the new signings … it’s gonna be a busy busy summer bonnylad – you’re gonna need to take more staff on!!,

      (Quote)

  9. Mystic Eric:
    I didnt have a grey hair on my head last time England won anything and Nobby Stiles was alive.

    Eric – I’ve struggled to give an interest to England in recent years mate, but I have to say with players like Mount, Grealish & Foden – I’ve started enjoying watching them again. I haven’t seen much of Sancho & haven’t seen him really stand out in an England shirt yet – but there is a lot of hype about him so looking forward to seeing what he’s all about.

    I hope Southgate just lets them play. Don’t complicate it, just let the young lads play football. I would really fancy our chances if we had a Terry Venables in charge of this England squad. I worry that Southgate might balls it up by being too cautious and over thinking it.

    I think our weakness is the keeper & CBs – so we will concede goals. But I think midfield & forwards are as good as any in Europe – and we have good full backs too. So focus getting the best out of our strengths & accept that we will concede 🤷🏼‍♂️

      (Quote)

  10. Sharpy: TRex will probably bollox it up.

    His Mackem buddies will be in the 3rd division for another year 🙂 🙂 🙂

    They were saying see you next year – meaning they would be promoted and we would be relegated. That’s something we can congradulate Bruce on although the Mackems didnt live up to their side of the bargain.

      (Quote)

  11. Thanks Ollyand other writers for all the effort you put in this year, appreciate it mate.

    Not been on much due to moving, plus Lews been home ill since the move 🙄 which results in not much unpacking and organising getting done.
    On the plus side, this massive garden has so much wildlife and got a visit from a fox this morning !

    Hoping we get an end of season win and that someone, anyone buys us in the summer and ends our purgatory under Jabba.
    HWTL

      (Quote)

  12. I woke up at 6.30am and they had a Shearer retrospective on the sports channel. What a player!

    He was interviewed and said Keegan left 6 months after he arrived. I always find it weird that other teams’ fans make fun of him that he went to NUFC and not Man U. That team that he went to play in under Keegan was unbelievable.

    I know I have said this before but it needs repeating.

      (Quote)

  13. Aye even on the final day, in a game that doesn’t really matter – Bruce still manages to baffle and annoy me in equal measures.

    ASM & Almiron up front with Gayle & Carroll on the bench. Why sign Gayle to a new contract if you’re still not going to play when ahead of midfielders????.

    Gayle must have no sense of self worth if he’s happy to see out his career with us knowing he’s not going to get regular or even irregular game time with us. Mental!!!

      (Quote)

  14. Getinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
    Willock
    Please can we sign this guy

      (Quote)

  15. Don’t know it this has been posted already as the last post I can see is Gilly saying we start without a striker 🙄.

    But will have now matched Shearers record of consecutive games scored 😳. Whilst at the same time now totally pricing himself out a permanent move to us 🙄🤷🏼‍♂️.

      (Quote)

  16. Canny first half and Willock does it again.. cannot see Arsenal letting him go now

      (Quote)

  17. Eric:
    Krafth is paying good. What is going on here?

    Eric – I think the right sided CB in a 3 is a position that seems to suit him quite well

      (Quote)

  18. Brilliant – whatever happens in the summer, thanks Joe 👏🏼.

    Always welcome back in Newcastle
    – honorary Geordie imo.

      (Quote)

  19. Sharpy17:
    Brilliant – whatever happens in the summer, thanks Joe 👏🏼.

    Always welcome back in Newcastle
    – honorary Geordie imo.

    Yep, served us well

      (Quote)

  20. Quiet second half but 2-0 win. I’ll take it. Why did we get Hendrick. Rubbish player. Gayle is rubbish too.

      (Quote)

  21. I really hope we can bring Willock in. Perhaps use Woodman as a swap although I’d prefer to keep woodman…

      (Quote)

  22. Well played boys & congrats to Bruce – 45 pts & 12th in the league.

    A lot of it wasn’t pretty & Bruce talked a lot of nonsense at times. But to be fair to him, he said when the likes of ASM & Wilson came back he was confident we would pull away again & we did.

      (Quote)

  23. 12th isn’t too shabby, not quite sure how we did it, Willock I suspect to thank for that.

      (Quote)

  24. Gilly Toon:
    I really hope we can bring Willock in. Perhaps use Woodman as a swap although I’d prefer to keep woodman…

    Gilly – I think we will keep Woodman and sell Darlow.

    I also think that we will get another loan of Willock for next season with an option to buy of around £25-30m – but they may reserve the right to recall him & keep him.

    I don’t see him wanting to go back just to sit on the bench & I don’t see Arsenal giving him regular football with the players they have there already.

    I don’t see the top 4 wanting him & Arsenal aren’t gonna let him go to one of the teams around them in the league – so we would be where he ends up if he leaves Arsenal.

      (Quote)

  25. kimtoon:
    12th isn’t too shabby, not quite sure how we did it, Willock I suspect to thank for that.

    Kim – Willocks goals were a big part but I think ultimately the success came from finding the right formation for the players he has.

    Murphy & Ritchie have been brilliant at wing back – the 3 CBs pretty solid. Willock outstanding in midfield – even Shelvey has looked better.
    Almiron & ASMs pace in the counter attack – Wilson got goals and dare I say even Joelinton looked better – not great but better and bagged a few goals himself.

    I think that’s been the key imo. Bruce has struggled all season trying to figure it out and has tinkered with things most of the season – but when it mattered, he found it. Was that helped with the arrival of Jones – possibly/probably, but regardless it happened.

      (Quote)

  26. I wanna say I feel sorry for Leicester, but they were in the top 4 longer than any other club in the league – they have blown it again for a 2nd season in a row. I’m sure they will survive having won the FA Cup like 🤷🏼‍♂️😂

      (Quote)

  27. Good scenes at Man City. I still say they’ve bought another league, but good to see they’ve included the backroom staff & they are properly getting involved.

    I wonder how many Trophies Brian Kidd has won between the 2 Manchester clubs?! 😳

    Mad that Sergio never won a PL player of the season as well 😳

      (Quote)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green