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      MATCH PREVIEW

FULHAM v WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Barclays Premier League
Saturday 14th September 2013, 3pm
Craven Cottage

NOTES

Albion are looking for their first league win at Craven Cottage for almost 46 years.

The Baggies have failed to score in their opening three league matches of the season for the first time since 1972/73.

Fulham have lost their last five home Premier League games.

The Baggies have failed to score in five of their last six Premier League games.

Albion's last six games: Swansea City (H) 0-2; Newport County (H, LC) 3-0; Everton (A) 0-0; Southampton (H) 0-1; Bologna (H, Fr) 2-0; Cork City (A, Fr) 6-0.

Fulham's last six games: Newcastle United (A) 0-1; Burton Albion (A, LC) 2-2, 5-4 on pens; Arsenal (H) 1-3; Sunderland (A) 1-0; Parma (H, Fr) 1-2; Real Betis (H, Fr) 1-1.

TEAM NEWS

Albion

New signings Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano could both start for Steve Clarke’s men with fellow signing Victor Anichebe more likely to have to settle for a place on the bench.

James Morrison (groin) is a major doubt for Albion whilst Boaz Myhill will continue to deputise in goal for the injured Ben Foster (foot). On-loan striker Matej Vydra (hamstring) and defender Steven Reid are also unavailable.

Midfielders Zoltan Gera and George Thorne are both still missing despite recently returning to training.

Squad: Myhill, Daniels, Olsson, Popov, Ridgewell, Lugano, McAuley, Dawson, Jones, Yacob, Morrison, Brunt, Dorrans, Sinclair, Amalfitano, Mulumbu, Long, Anichebe, Sessegnon, Rosenberg, Berahino, Anelka.

Fulham

Former Villa striker Darren Bent will miss the game due to a tight hamstring. Defenders Matthew Briggs (hip) and Aaron Hughes (thigh) will also miss out along with goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg (shoulder)

Former Albion loanee Kieran Richardson returns to the squad following his recent hamstring problem.

Recent signings Fernando Amorebieta and Elsad Zverotic could both figure after being named in the squad for the first time.

Squad: Stockdale, Etheridge, Riether, Riise, Hangeland, Zverotic, Senderos, Sidwell, Parker, Boateng, Karagounis, Kasami, Dejagah, Kacaniklic, Duff, Richardson, Taarabt, Berbatov, Ruiz, Rodallega.

QUOTES

Albion head coach Steve Clarke:

“The squad now is complete, it is full. All I want the players and squad to do is make my job difficult. I want them to show that every day in training they are ready to play. I want them to show in matches they deserve to play, I want them to show when they come on they deserve to be involved. I want them to get the results for the club - and that's what we're going to try and do.

 "If you understand footballers you know they can settle quickly and get on with their job. Lee, Victor and Morgan already feel part of the squad and we had a big introduction day yesterday, the only one missing was Diego who was travelling back from South America after international duty. We have done all the introductions and will be ready for the weekend. We will stagger the initiation songs on Friday nights at away games - one a week!

“There are not too many teams who relish going down to the Cottage. It’s a difficult place and Fulham’s strength in the Premier League has been built on their home form. Their home form is excellent. We went down there on the same weekend last season and got turned over. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“They’re a big team and can cause problems at set-plays and in open play. They have a good, strong midfield. I like their midfield; I worked with Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell - they are two good players. They’ve got Berbatov, who can give you something for nothing and Adel Taraabt, who can do the same. Kacaniklic had a couple of really good games against us last year and looks a big, big prospect.

“So, they have good players. But we’ve got good players in our team, and it’s up to us to make sure we go down there and get a positive result.”

www.wba.co.uk

Fulham boss Martin Jol:

“I think it’s a very important game for us.

“Of course, you want more points, but we had a very good start [at Sunderland]. After that we had to play Arsenal and Newcastle United and we would liked to have at least one point from these games, but we didn’t so we have to try to get back to our old habit of winning home matches.

“I see it almost as a must-win game but if you look at the other team, West Brom has got one point so it’s a must-win game for them. There are a lot of key fixtures every week in the league. It’s a key fixture but there are 20 or 25 key fixtures in a Premier League season.”

www.fulhamfc.com

MATCH ODDS

Result

Albion Win: 5/2, Fulham Win: 6/5, Draw: 21/10.

First Goalscorer

Albion: Anelka 13/2, Long 8/1, Anichebe 9/1, Sessegnon 9/1, Rosenberg 10/1, Vydra 11/1, Sinclair 12/1, Morrison 14/1, Dorrans 16/1, Brunt 20/1, Amalfitano 20/1.

Fulham: Berbatov 11/2, Taarabt 15/2, Rodallega 15/2, Ruiz 9/1, Kacaniklic 11/1, Duff 12/1, Kasami 12/1, Sidwell 14/1, Karagounis 20/1.

www.williamhill.com

REFEREE

Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Refereed two Albion games last season - the 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa in January and the 3-2 defeat against Wigan, also at home, in May.

The Wiltshire official took charge of four Fulham games last season - the 2-1 win at Wigan in September, the 3-1 defeat at home to Sunderland in November, the 1-0 win at home against Stoke City in February and the 3-2 win at home to Queens Park Rangers in April.

So far this season Probert has issued one yellow card and one red in the two games he has officiated.

TICKET INFORMATION

The game is now sold out.

WEATHER FORECAST

Mostly dry and sunny, 16°C

FIXTURE HISTORY

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 and Harry Ross hitting the hosts'. 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. The Baggies also recorded a 6-2 victory at The Hawthorns in November 1965.

Fulham's best result against Albion came as recently as February 2006 when a Chris Coleman-led team recorded a 6-1 victory at Craven Cottage. Heidar Helguson and Collins John both hit braces for the hosts whilst Kevin Campbell notched Albion's solitary reply.

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.

Albion have failed to win on their last 14 league visits to Craven Cottage with their last win at the venue coming in October 1967, Jeff Astle and Tony Brown scoring in a 2-1 victory. In the years since that last league victory Albion have however won three cup games, 2-1 in the FA Cup in January 1969, 1-0 in the League Cup in September 1979 and finally a 3-2 victory in the Carling Cup in October 2005.

The Baggies' recent record against Fulham is poor, having won just one of the last seven meetings.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

(Click on game to view)

Saturday 18 September 2004 - Albion 1-1 Fulham - Premier League - The Hawthorns
Saturday 31 August 2002 - Albion 1-0 Fulham - Premier League - The Hawthorns
Saturday 09 December 2000 - Albion 1-3 Fulham - League Division One - The Hawthorns
Saturday 13 February 1993 - Albion 4-0 Fulham - League Division Two - The Hawthorns
Wednesday 1 January 1992 - Albion 2-3 Fulham - Third Division - The Hawthorns

LAST MEETING AT CRAVEN COTTAGE

Fulham 3-0 Albion
Barclays Premier League
Saturday 15th September 2012, 3.00pm

Fulham: Schwarzer, Riise, Hangeland, Baird, Hughes, Riether, Sidwell, Duff (Smith 90), Kacaniklic (Kasami 84), Berbatov, Rodallega. Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Briggs, Smith, Kasami, Karagounis, Trotta.

Goalscorers: Berbatov 32, 45 (pen), Sidwell 89.

Albion: Foster, Olsson, Ridgewell, McAuley, Jones, Yacob (Rosenberg 76), Morrison, Mulumbu, Long (Lukaku HT), Odemwingie, Fortune (Brunt HT). Subs not used: Myhill, Dawson, Dorrans Gera.

Sent-off: Odemwingie 38 (violent conduct)

Attendance: 25,691

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).

Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov scored a brace on his home debut to guide Martin Jol's side to a comfortable victory over 10-man West Brom. The 31-year-old, making his first start since a deadline-day move from Manchester United, opened the scoring in the 32nd minute before adding a second from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, with Steve Sidwell adding a third in the closing stages.

West Brom forward Peter Odemwingie was sent off in between Berbatov's strikes for violent conduct as Steve Clarke's side lost their first Barclays Premier League game of the season. The second-half was noticeable for a string of superb saves from West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster as Fulham failed to add to their lead until the last minute when Sidwell volleyed home.

The home side dominated possession in the opening stages as they pinned West Brom onto the edge of their own penalty area but it was Baggies' winger James Morrison who produced the first effort of quality. On a rare early foray forward the winger, who signed a new contract yesterday, collected the ball from Billy Jones before forcing a smart save from Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer. Jones then pulled a low cross back across goal but neither Shane Long or Marc-Antoine Fortune had gambled on making a run and the ball was eventually cleared. Fulham's early dominance subsided but they were still looking lively in the final third without testing Foster in the visitor's goal and the final ball lacked quality on a number of occasions. Berbatov's goal came just after the half-hour mark following some good work from Alex Kacaniklic. The young winger showed good feet when surrounded by three West Brom defenders before rolling the ball into Berbatov who bent his effort inside Foster's left-hand post. West Brom came close to an immediate equaliser as Berbatov fouled James Morrison and from the resulting free-kick Fulham skipper Brede Hangeland managed to throw himself in from of Jonas Olsson's shot to keep his side ahead. Moments later West Brom were reduced to 10 men when Peter Odemwingie was shown a straight red card by Roger East for kicking out at Sascha Riether right in front of the dugouts. Berbatov, who seemed to be at the centre of all of Fulham's decent play, came close to adding a second in the 40th minute but his diving header flew past the post. The hosts were awarded a penalty in first-half injury time when Jones fouled the busy Kacaniklic after the 21-year-old had beaten him for pace inside the box. Berbatov stepped up confidently and sent former Manchester United team-mate Foster the wrong way to double Fulham's lead at the interval.

Clarke made two changes at the start of the second-half, replacing Long and Fortune with Chris Brunt and Romelu Lukaku. But it was Fulham who continued to press, looking to make their numerical advantage count. Brunt forced Schwarzer to tip a long-range effort over the crossbar just after the hour and the Northern Ireland midfielder's corner then hit the outside of Schwarzer's post. Clarke's other half-time introduction then tested Schwarzer as Lukaku was picked out by Brunt before shooting low and hard at the Australian. Foster then made a low save from Sidwell's long-range effort and managed to claw the loose ball away from the on-rushing Damien Duff. The former England goalkeeper then palmed Duff's own deflected shot from the edge of the box behind for a corner as Fulham started to take a stranglehold on proceedings. Only Foster was keeping West Brom in the game as he once again did superbly well to tip Hugo Rodallega's shot around the post after more probing play from Duff. Despite struggling to maintain Fulham's attacking players Clarke decided to introduce Markus Rosenberg from the bench with 15 minutes remaining in an attempt to claw a goal back. Foster continued to pull off save after save and denied both Berbatov and Rodallega towards the end of the game. But he was powerless to stop Sidwell adding the third with only a minute to go. Foster kept substitute Pajtim Kasami's front-post cross from sneaking in before Rodallega headed the rebound onto the crossbar. The loose ball fell to Sidwell who lashed the ball into the empty net.

Sporting Life

CURRENT CONNECTIONS

Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Gera originally moved to The Hawthorns in July 2004, joining in a £1.5million deal from Ferencvaros. The midfielder spent four years at The Hawthorns, becoming a huge fan favourite in the process. In the summer of 2008, an out of contract Gera joined Fulham. He would stay at Craven Cottage for three years, again becoming a fan favourite, before returning to Albion in August 2011. Gera has now made over 150 appearances for the Baggies, scoring 26 goals, and has become the club's most capped international player of all time.

Current Fulham boss Martin Jol spent two years at The Hawthorns as a player, joining in 1982 from Dutch side FC Twente. On leaving Albion, Jol spent a year at Coventry City before returning to Holland.

Kieran Richardson was a huge influence on Albion's 'Great Escape' of 2004/05. The midfielder moved to The Hawthorns on loan from Manchester United in January of that season and proceeded to score three goals in 12 games, including one against Portsmouth on the final day of the season. After a five year spell at Sunderland, Richardson moved to Craven Cottage in August 2012.

PAST CONNECTIONS

Amongst the players to have turned out at various levels for both clubs are: Giles Barnes, Perry Digweed, Jonathan Greening, Mark Grew, Junichi Inamoto, Diomansy Kamara, Zat Knight, Tony Lange, Stacey North, Paul Peschisolido, Martin Pike, Bobby Robson, Arthur Rowley, Nicky Shorey, Kevin Steggles, Brian Talbot and Pascal Zuberbuhler.

Current England boss Roy Hodgson managed both clubs as did Vic Buckingham and Ray Harford; 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.

ALL-TIME LEAGUE & CUP RECORD VS FULHAM

 VENUE P W D  L F A
 Home 41 22 9 10 87 45
 Away 39 14 8 17 34 55
 Total 80 36 17 27 121 100

LAST TEN MATCHES AGAINST FULHAM

 DATE  COMPETITION H/A F-A  GOALSCORERS   GATE
 Tue 01 Jan 2013  Premier League H 1-2  Lukaku - Berbatov, Kačaniklić   25,436
 Sat 15 Sep 2012  Premier League A 0-3  Berbatov 2 (1 pen), Sidwell   25,691
 Wed 01 Feb 2012  Premier League A 1-1  Tchoyi - Dempsey   25,689
 Sat 24 Sep 2011  Premier League H 0-0   23,835
 Tue 04 Jan 2011  Premier League A 0-3  Davies, Demsey, Hangeland   23,654
 Sat 23 Oct 2010

 Premier League

H 2-1  Mulumbu, Fortune - Carson (og)   25,625
 Sun 22 Feb 2009  Premier League A 0-2  Zamora, Johnson   22,394
 Sat 04 Oct 2008  Premier League H 1-0  Bednar   25,708
 Sat 11 Feb 2006  Premier League A 1-6  Campbell - Helguson 2, Radzinski, C Davies (og), John 2   21,508
 Sat 03 Dec 2005  Premier League H 0-0   23,144

 

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