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Fulham Preview

Filed: Friday, 2nd October 2009
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy takes a look at Sunday's match....

Fulham up next for a 3pm Sunday kick-off.

The Cottagers are reputedly London’s oldest professional club having been formed in 1879. They’ve spent the 130 years or so since then doing, well not much really. Of course being such an old club they would like to think they have an impressive history, though the chap who wrote their Wikipedia entry might have chosen his words a bit better when including Bobby Moore and George Best in amongst the many British greats that it is claimed that the club “produced”. In reality, if you don’t count things like the Middlesex Senior Cup, they’ve probably had more grounds over the years than they have had trophies. To summarise, they’re kind of like the BBC Parliamentary Channel of the Premiership – you’re sort of vaguely aware of their existence in the listings without ever really knowing why, or how they are still there.

They did of course finish higher up the programme listings, er table, than us last season, managing to grab the 7th place spot that gave them a place in the new Europa League in which they’ve made a promising start. Since qualifying, they are unbeaten so far in their group having drawn away at CSKA Sofia and beaten FC Basle at home in their two games thus far. However, current received wisdom suggests that participation in the secondary European competition is likely to have a detrimental effect on a club’s league form, which is why in recent years so many clubs appear to have tried almost as hard to exit the competition as they did to qualify for it in the first place. Of course it’s early days in both competitions as yet but the fact that this weekend’s visitors currently lie one place above ourselves at the wrong end of the table suggests that there may well be something in that received wisdom.

They currently have two wins to their name having disposed of Pompey 1-0 at Fratton Park on the opening day and Everton 2-1 at home a couple of weeks ago. On the debit side have been defeats by Chelsea, Villa and Wolves, whilst last weekend most observers thought them a bit unlucky to go down 1-0 at home to Arsenal for whom Mannone in goal apparently had a blinder. All of which has left them on 6 points, which is two more than we’ve managed to scrape together thus far. Having said that, the Basle victory brought an end to a three game losing sequence which included an extra time defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup, so, unlike ourselves they do at least have recent experience of victory.

They made five changes for the Basle tie in midweek but are likely to revert to a side more akin to that which lost last week. There may, however, be at least one enforced change from that line-up as the calf muscle injury that saw him limp off last week after only 10 minutes. Simon Davies is also a doubt with an ankle injury and there are conflicting reports regarding Andrew Johnson who is either definitely out with a shoulder injury or fighting fit depending on which of the many sources you care to believe. They are, as usual, likely to be a trio of ex-Hammers on display with full backs Pantsil and Konchesky being joined by Bobby Zamora up front.

As for us, well all has not been well of late – yes I know, “Preview Percy – chosen subject ‘The bleedin’ obvious’”. Though we were (again) on the wrong end of some dreadful refereeing decisions up at Eastlands the fact remains that apart from a few short spells we were bloody awful on Monday night and more clinical finishing from the home side, particularly in the first 20 minutes, could have seen us on the wrong end of cricket score – a proper one rather than one of England’s.

The same injury news sources that seem so undecided about Fulham’s Johnson have made similar diagnoses regarding Matty Upson’s calf with him being both “available” and “very doubtful.” We are told that he has been in full training this week so, assuming that he is fit his will be a welcome return following the Tomkins/Da Costa partnership that looked exactly like the first time pairing it was. What was the name of that red-haired fella we sold the other week?

Also back in training this week apparently was Valon Behrami, who could come in for Kovac. If so, this will be a most welcome change as the Percy household remains totally unconvinced that a midfield that includes both Kovac and Parker will ever really work. Personally we’d also like to see Hines return to the starting line-up as well. He had a great spell terrorising Liverpool, who pretty soon abandoned all pretence of dealing with him legally. The thought of him up against Pa(i)ntsil is one that has us salivating. Well, not literally you understand but you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, the continued absence of Franco, apart from robbing me of the chance to make a load of cheap jokes about dictators playing on the right wing, is beginning to remind me more and more of a certain Diego Tristan. Like Tristan he arrived, and then disappeared off the face of the earth in a quest to seek the Holy Grail of match-fitness. Let’s hope that, unlike Tristan, he finds it.

Ok so we’ve not had the best of starts (see previous comments on “chosen subject”). However, there have been some encouraging noises suggesting that that there might be more flexibility to the formation. Clearly, at third from bottom the “4-3 and not really 3” set up hasn’t really been working so any acknowledgement that the horse being flogged might not actually be too well is more than welcome. We’ve got a decent record against this lot and, with the return of Upson and Behrami I can see the season finally getting started at last. It might be a bit tense at first. However, if we avoid conceding first, I can see three points from this one so I’ll go for a “less comfortable than it sounds” 3-1 victory to see us start our clamber up the table.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: 3-1 A Mark Noble penalty and a Carlton Cole effort gave us all three points after a freak piledriver from Konchesky had cancelled out an early Di Michele strike.

Danger Man: Zoltan Gera has begun to pull strings in the middle and impressed against Arsenal last week.

Referee: Phil Dowd handled the corresponding match last season in which, after correctly giving the penalty when Cole was upended by Konchesky, he baffled the hell out of everyone by giving only a yellow instead of the red card the situation clearly deserved.

Look out for: Trainspotters apparently there may be something called a District Line train stopping at Upton Park this weekend, an event so rare that you won’t be able to see the station for anoraks and tartan thermos flasks.

A word from our sponsors

Five games without a win seems a little unfair for West Ham at this early stage of the season and as always they are a punters friend. They’re evens to beat Fulham this weekend and considering they’ve beaten the West Londoners on three of the last four occasions at home then you’d expect to see that price drop before kick-off.

The draw is 9/4 and Fulham friendless in the market to back at 12/5.

We’re best price about West Ham winning 2:1 at 17/2 but where we’ve really stuck our neck out is with the 0-0 draw at 9/1 compared to other firms 7s and 8s. It might be boring but it would pay! On the spreads the Time of the 1st Goal is always popular this season with teams scoring more goals than ever before in the Prem. The price is 38-41 minutes.

Season wise there’s been interest in West Ham’s Season Points at 44-45. (ie: if you think they’ll get more than 45 points Buy and if you think they’ll get less than 44 points over the season then Sell). Elsewhere Chelsea Season Points 84-85, Man United 84-85 and City 72-73 pts.
- Chris Shillington, extrabet.com

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by robin
12:23PM 3rd Oct 2009
''Upton Park tube station may be open but the rest of the rail system is being dug up this weekend like it has been for the last 12 months everytime The Hammers play at home!''

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