Fulham, after drawing both their opening Premier League games so far, head off to the seaside and a fixture against newly promoted Blackpool. It promises to be a test of character for both sides, Fulham will be keen to secure their first win whilst Blackpool will want to exorcise the ghosts of their six goal mauling at the hands of Arsenal.
Ian Holloway is a journalists` gift when it comes to quotes. Famous for his one-liners he`s taken Blackpool from obscurity to Premier League glory. Obviously, he`s realistic enough to accept that his squad is a little threadbare and it came as no surprise when he left out several of his regulars in the midweek defeat to MK Dons.
Unflustered though, Ian gave a great response when asked if he was being disrespectful in not showing u at all in the aforementioned game, remarking,
“I didn`t go and watch my team and it caused a stir – but am I bovvered? No!”
Meanwhile, Mark Hughes, faced with the possibility of losing Paul Konchesky, to Liverpool, simply accepts it as a fact of life, remarking,
“I have obviously re-signed players I have worked with before and it works.”
All part of the game then!
Blackpool Team News:
Ian Holloway`s squad lacks the star-names of many in the Premier League with the club refusing to be drawn into the financial melt-down scenario that so many clubs get caught up in, the club refuses to break its wage structure and in a way they are to be admired. But what effect it will have on their potential survival in top flight football remains to be seen.
For the fixture Holloway is able to call again on the services of his defender, Ian Evatt, who has served a one game ban for a red card received at Arsenal.
But approaching the game Holloway does have injury problems with Keith Southern, Loius Almond and Billy Clarke not available with Paul Rachubka and Jason Euell rated as doubtful.
Player to watch: Charlie Adam
Signed from Glasgow Rangers, Adam showed how astute a manager Ian Holloway can be by proving to be their star man in their promotion season. It`ll be interesting to see what headway he can make against our experienced midfield.
Fulham Team News:
Mark Hughes takes his squad to the north-west and it`ll be interesting to see if Mark Schwarzer and Paul Konchesky feature, both of whom are rumoured to be on the verge of deals that will take them away from Craven Cottage.
Having demolished Port Vale 6-0 in midweek, there is a possibility that Mark Hughes might give Moussa Dembele his first Premier League start after the Belgium international kick-started his goals column with a goal in the aforementioned demolition.
It`ll also be interesting to see if two-goal Zoltan Gera is restored to the starting eleven after missing out in the 2-2 draw with Manchester United last Sunday.
Definitely out though are Andrew Johnson, Philippe Senderos and Diomansy Kamara.
Sticking our necks out we`ll go for a starting eleven of:-
Stockdale, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Kelly, Etuhu, Murphy, Duff, Davies, Zamora and Dembele.
Player to watch: Bobby Zamora
Two goals, against Port Vale, following on from giving John O`Shea and Jonny Evans a torrid time last Sunday, signal that Bobby is bang in form. Hopefully he can carry that form northwards and play his part in seeing off Ian Holloway`s Blackpool.
Match Facts & Stats
Its twelve years since the clubs last clashed at Bloomfield Road with Fulham emerging victors on that occasion by 3-2.
Our record at Bloomfield Road, for our last six League visits, remains very respectable with four wins to our name, one draw and a solitary defeat.
Michael Oliver, the youngest referee on the Premier League list, will be the man with the whistle this Saturday.
Our away form is so poor, when it comes to actually winning games, that it wouldn`t surprise me if the best we could muster was a draw. But, and no disrespect to Blackpool, this is the sort of fixture we should be looking to win. Blackpool surprised everyone with a 4-0 demolition of Wigan on the opening day but were thumped 6-0 by Arsenal next time out. Bloomfield Road will be a noisy place as the locals celebrate a return to top-flight action for along time but I`m taking Mark Hughes to motivate his side and return south with all three points, courtesy of a narrow win, 2-1 to Fulham I`ll predict.
After visiting Blackpool, Fulham face Wolverhampton Wanderers, at Craven Cottage, next weekend.