FULHAM v WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Barclays Premier League
Sunday 22nd February 2009, 1:30pm
Forget the ‘credit’ side of things - crunch time starts this
Sunday for Tony Mowbray’s men in their battle to avoid the drop.
With Everton away next up, followed by a home match with the
unpredictable yet undoubtedly dangerous Arsenal, the trip to Craven Cottage has
become something of a ‘must win’ fixture for the Baggies.
After surviving the drop last year, Roy Hodgson has quietly
gone about rebuilding Fulham and they now have a resilience and flair about them
that has made them a relatively safe bet for mid-table security. They boast a
home record that is the envy of most teams in the division and considering the
Baggies’ relatively poor returns on the road this season, an away win does not
However, Mowbray will aim to convince the players that this
is a very winnable game. Having beaten an unimpressive Fulham side at the
Hawthorns back in October, the mindset must be that the Baggies have nothing to
fear from the fixture. With the spectre of being cut adrift at the bottom of the
table looming large over the team, the gaffer’s motivational speech will be an
easy one and picking up all three points in a fixture that the boys have not
fared well in during recent years, is vital.
The break in
Spain will hopefully have given
the team time to regroup and rebuild confidence after the Newcastle defensive
debacle and while Jonas Olsson is unlikely to return in time for this weekend,
Mowbray will be hoping to call on Gianni Zuiverloon and Jay Simpson who both
missed the aforementioned game due to suspension and injury.
The problematic goal scoring
department now appears to be in order with the fine form of Marc-Antoine Fortune
and Arsenal loanee Simpson, but all eyes will undoubtedly now be on the defence
following it's nightmare against the Geordies. Mowbray is likely to keep faith
with Abdoulaye Meite and Leon Barnett and will be hopeful that they are both
back to something approaching full fitness and form.
The Sunday lunchtime kick-off could put an added pressure on
the boys to get a result depending on how our relegation rivals have done the
previous day though it could also provide an additional incentive to go all out
for the win.
All in all, it’s a biggie and the time is approaching to
stand up and be counted.
Prediction: Away win.
In goal Scott Carson will retain his place with Dean Kiely providing back-up on the bench.
Baggies’ boss Tony Mowbray will definitely be without
defenders Jonas Olsson (knee) and
Neil Clement (knee) whilst left-back and captain Paul Robinson is a doubt with
his wife expected to give birth this weekend. If Robinson does miss out, Marek
Cech will return to the starting line-up probably alongside Abdoulaye Meite,
Leon Barnett and
Gianni Zuiverloon. Pele and
Ryan Donk look likely to figure on the bench.
Albion are still without Jonathan Greening who is
recovering from a knee injury. Recent signings Juan Carlos Menseguez and Youssouf
Mulumbu are both in contention for starting places although they will probably
start on the bench. Borja Valero, Robert Koren, James Morrison and Chris Brunt
look the likely starters.
Jay Simpson should return up
front for the Baggies following his recent hamstring strain and looks set to
partner the in-form Marc-Antoine Fortune. Roman Bednar and Luke
Moore will start on the bench with Craig Beattie out on loan at Sheffield United
and Ishmael Miller
missing through injury.
Zuiverloon, Hoefkens, Pele, Donk, Meite, Barnett, Robinson, Cech, Morrison, Koren,
Mulumbu, Valero, Bednar, Simpson, Fortune, Moore.
Fulham look set to welcome back Andy Johnson and Paul
Konchesky who both missed the defeat at Manchester United in midweek through
injury. Dickson Etuhu has an outside chance of returning but Frederik Stoor is
rated very doubtful.
The game could also see the return of former
Albion striker Diomansy Kamara
who has been out since June after suffering ruptured ligaments playing for
Senegal against Liberia.
Recent loan signings Olivier Dacourt and Giles Barnes should
figure despite both lacking match fitness.
Schwarzer, Hughes, Konchesky, Pantsil, Hangeland, Johnson,
Zamora, Nevland, Gera,
Murphy, Kamara, Gray, Zuberbuhler, Stoor, Dempsey, Davies, Milsom, Brown,
Smalling, Kallio, Barnes, Dacourt.
manager Tony Mowbray:
"It's about time we turned some
half-decent away performances into points.
"Three of our next four are away, and Arsenal at home is the
other game, so winning away, be it at Fulham, Everton or West Ham, is part of
"Let's hope we can pick up points in all three of these away
manager Roy Hodgson:
"This is a vitally important game for us, but unfortunately
it's also vitally important for our opponents.
"We proved last season that with our backs to the wall we can
produce that bit extra, so we have to be careful.
"But if our defending, attacking, movement, passing and tempo
are as good as they have been, I'm confident we'll end the season well."
Albion Win: 7/2,
Nevland 6/1, Zamora 6/1, Dempsey 8/1, Fortune 9/1,
Gera 9/1, Simpson 9/1, Bednar 9/1, Moore 10/1, Barnes 10/1, Dorrans 12/1, Brunt
14/1, Morrison 14/1, Koren 14/1, Brown 14/1, Murphy 14/1, Davies 14/1.
Martin Atkinson (Yorkshire) - Has yet to officiate an Albion game this season
but did referee two games last season, the 0-0 draw at Cardiff in April and the
4-1 victory over Bristol City at The Hawthorns on Boxing Day.
available at the turnstiles on the day for Albion fans. Prices are £35 adults,
and £15 under-16's.
Mostly cloudy but mild.
The first league meetings between the two sides took
place in the Second Division during the 1907/08 season. The first game, on
December 28 at Craven Cottage ended all-square at 1-1 with Harry Wilcox
scoring the Albion goal. The return game at The Hawthorns on the last day
of the season saw Albion claim a 3-1 victory, Billy Jordan, Harry Wright
and Willie Thompson the Baggies' goalscorers.
Albion's biggest victory over the Cottagers is 6-1,
achieved twice, first in 1946/47 and then in 1962/63, both games took
place at The Hawthorns. The latter game saw Derek Kevan score four of the
Albion goals. Albion also recorded a 6-2 victory at The Hawthorns in
Fulham's best result against Albion came in February
2006 with a 6-1 victory at Craven Cottage.
Albion's first ever Premiership win came against Fulham
at The Hawthorns on August 31,2002, Darren Moore scoring the only goal of
the game in a 1-0 victory.
The Baggies last league victory at Craven Cottage came over 40 years ago
in October 1967 when goals from Jeff Astle and Tony Brown gave Alan
Ashman's men a 2-1 win.
LAST MEETING AT CRAVEN COTTAGE
Fulham 6-1 Albion
11 February 2006, 3:00pm
Niemi, Volz, Bocanegra, Knight, Bridge, Radzinski,Elliott, Malbranque, Boa Morte,
McBride, Helguson (John 64). Subs not used: Warner, Legwinski, Goma, Niclas
Goalscorers: Helguson 4, 40, Radzinski 48, Curtis Davies 58 (own goal),
John 83, 90
Booked: Helguson 45 (foul), Radzinski 47 (foul), Boa Morte 85 (foul).
Kuszczak (Hoult 61), Albrechtsen, Curtis Davies,
45), Clement, Inamoto, Wallwork, Quashie, Greening, Campbell, Horsfield
(Ellington 45). Subs not used: Kozak, Carter.
Booked: Wallwork 30 (dissent),
Martinez 61 (foul).
Referee: Graham Poll (Hertfordshire)
Fantastic Fulham cruised to their biggest win of the season
in the Barclays Premiership thanks to a disputed 'hat-trick' from Heidar
Helguson and two goals from substitute Collins John. The 28-year-old Icelandic
striker helped condemn awful
Albion to their 14th defeat of the season to keep them on the edge
of Barclays Premiership relegation battle. But he will have to wait until the
Premier League decide whether his third goal will be officially credited to him
after his original shot was directed into the net by Albion defender Curtis
Davies. The ball appeared to be going wide of the target when he attempted to
curl Tomasz Radzinski's pass into the net and changed direction completely when
it struck the Albion
There had been no such doubt about his first-half double. He
began his demolition job in the fourth minute when he latched on to a header
from Brian McBride and ran on into the penalty before firing in a low drive. His
second arrived five minutes before the interval when he leapt highest at the far
post to meet Simon Elliott's free-kick. The afternoon had begun on a sombre note
with a minute's silence for former Fulham player and
England manager Ron Greenwood,
who died on Thursday aged 84. Helguson and McBride were a constant threat to the
Albion defence with their aerial ability but three minutes after the Icelander's
strike Albion keeper Tomasz Kuszczak was forced to hold a header from Carlos
Bocanegra. Albion offered little invention in midfield and consequently their
attack was starved of the service it required in order to flourish. But when the
Albion midfield were given space and time to play Fulham discovered it could
pack a punch with keeper Antti Niemi forced to tip a dangerous 20-yard drive
from Nigel Quashie over the crossbar in the 17th minute. Fulham's failure to
increase their lead allowed the visitors to enjoy a sustained spell of pressure
which almost brought them an equaliser in the 33rd minute. The home defence
failed to deal with a near-post corner and amid the panic to clear their lines
the ball fell to Quashie, whose shot from the edge of the penalty area had Niemi
diving low to his right to keep it out. The chance sparked Fulham back into life
and McBride was unlucky not to get their second when he tried to steer the ball
beyond Kuszczak at the near post. Five minutes before the break a foul by
Albrechtsen on Luis Boa Morte was punished by the impressive Helguson when he
rose highest at the far post to plant Elliott's curling free-kick into the top
Albion's plight worsened in the
48th minute when Fulham added their third of the afternoon. This time the scorer
was Radzinski, who evaded the attentions of the Albion defence and lobbed the
ball over the stranded Kuszczak. However, the scorer was booked by referee
Graham Poll seconds later for taking off his shirt to celebrate his goal. In the
52nd minute Kevin Campbell went close for the visitors with a curling shot from
the edge of the penalty area which only narrowly evaded the Niemi's left-hand
upright. Three minutes later Albrechtsen sent a right-foot effort into the
side-netting from an acute angle as
Albion, for the first time in the contest, looked as though they
wanted to make a fight of it. Helguson looked to have completed a deserved
hat-trick in the 59th minute with a deflected shot from the edge of then penalty
area, although the effort has so far been credited as an own goal. Malbranque
fed the ball to Radzinski on the right flank and he sped fully 30 yards
unchallenged before delivering a perfect pass to Helguson. But the striker's
original effort appeared to be going wide of the target before it struck
Albion defender Davies, changed
direction and wrong-footed Kuszczak.
Albion boss Bryan Robson immediately replaced the injured
goalkeeper with substitute Russell Hoult. But Helguson, replaced by John in the
64th minute, will have to wait for the Premier League to adjudicate on whether
he can claim a hat-trick or not. John scored Fulham's fifth in the 82nd minute
when he poked home Radzinski's curling cross and
Albion pinched a consolation
effort three minutes later when
beat Niemi with a low drive at the near post. John wrapped up the scoring in the
89th minute when he fired Radzinski's pass beyond Hoult.
Zoltan Gera joined
Albion in July 2004 from Ferencvaros and became an instant fans' favourite at
The Hawthorns. The Hungarian went on to make over 100 appearances for the club,
scoring 25 goals in the process, before moving to Craven Cottage at the start of
this season after his Albion contract expired.
Senegal star Diomansy Kamara
moved to Fulham from The Hawthorns in July 2007 for a then record sale of
£6,000,000. The striker had joined Albion two years previously from Portsmouth.
Zuberbuhler spent just seven months at The Hawthorns following a move from
Basle in July 2006. The Swiss international - widely regarded as one of Albion's
worst ever keepers - moved to Fulham in August of this year.
players to have turned out at various levels for both clubs are: Perry
Digweed, Mark Grew, Junichi Inamoto, Zat Knight, Tony Lange, Stacey North, Paul Peschisolido, Martin
Pike, Bobby Robson, Arthur Rowley, Kevin Steggles and Brian Talbot.
Vic Buckingham and Ray Harford both managed Albion and
Fulham; Ex-Albion manager Archie Macauley played for Fulham
during the 1950's; Gordon Clark managed Albion from 1959-61 and later had
a spell as assistant manager at Fulham.