The delay is over, the internationals have finished 9for now) and we can all get back to the bread and butter of the Premier League. Hooray I say! First up is a trip to St Andrews to take on a Birmingham side managed by Alex McLeish.
Birmingham are a club that seem to yo-yo between the Championship and the Premier League, their manager, Alex McLeish though sees our club as a good role model and one to emulate and on the eve of the fixture has been quoted as remarking,
‘But I try not to look that far ahead so let’s concentrate on Fulham because that is a vital game for us.
‘Fulham have performed well, they’re a very organised team. They’ve been able to build on avoiding relegation”
“That’s what Blues hope to do this season: ensure survival and then progress.”
What a thoroughly nice man!
Birmingham City Team News:
Alex McLeish enters this fixture with his squad hit with injury problems. Definitely out are Garry O`Connor, Teemu Tainio, Martin Taylor and David Murphy.
But, on the positive side, he is able to call upon the services of fit again Keith Fahey and Barry Ferguson who has served a one-match ban for a red card received at Anfield during that fine win over Rafa Benitez`s side.
Player to watch: Barry Ferguson
A combative Scot who enjoyed the best spell of his career with Glasgow Rangers, sampled English football with Blackburn Rovers but moved back to Ibrox but has now returned south desperate to show he can cut the mustard.
Fulham Team News:
It`ll be interesting which eleven start for Roy Hodgson this Saturday. With so many players coming back from injury the gaffer will have more options to choose from than he has had in recent weeks.
The defence will, however, pick itself with Mark Schwarzer between the posts protected by a back four of John Pantsil, Brede Hangeland, Aaron Hughes and Paul Konchesky. We suspect there will be no starting place for former Birmingham man, Stephen Kelly.
The midfield four proves harder to select. Both Danny Murphy and Simon Davies are reportedly fit for selection as is Dickson Etuhu. We suspect that it`ll be a central midfield pairing of Murphy and Etuhu with the wide support coming from Clinton Dempsey and Damien Duff.
Up front Diomansy Kamara, we believe, faces a late fitness test and we`re not sure if former Blue, Andrew Johnson will feature. If Kamara passes a fitness test we suspect he`ll partner Bobby Zamora up front.
Player to watch: Bobby Zamora
Selected by you, the Vital Fulham readership, as your player of the first quarter of the season, here`s hoping his fine recent form continues.
Match Facts & Stats
The history books show us that with regards to this fixture the statistics are as such:
Fulham wins – 2 Birmingham wins 3 and Draws 5
A Fulham win would re-dress the balance perfectly!
The last meeting between the two clubs saw Fulham emerge as winners by 2-0 with Brian McBride and Erik Nevland scoring.
The man in the middle will be Chris Foy.
St Andrews is one of those places you never like going to, it`s almost as if it`s stuck in a time warp, intimidating, cold and a place where results can be hard to grind out. Birmingham rarely score more than once, unless they`re at Anfield, and we`re not renowned for our great away form, but I have a suspicion it`ll be the away team smiling more when that final whistle is blown. A narrow 1-0 win to Fulham for me!
Fulham follow the trip to St Andrews with two Premier League fixtures at Craven Cottage. Fulham play Blackburn on Wednesday evening and then Bolton next Saturday, six points out of six anybody?