After suffering the indignity of defeat, succumbing to two late Arsenal goals on Sunday, Fulham have the chance to make amends when Bolton Wanderers visit Craven Cottage on Wednesday evening.
The fixture pits two sides against each other that both lost their opening fixtures. Whilst Arsenal were beating us, Bolton were being soundly beaten by Newcastle United. In fact the Trotters went into the half time break 3-0 down. It doesn`t take a genius to accept that a defeat for either side would, as early as the second fixture of the season; get the alarm bells sounding with regard to an impending relegation battle!
The fixture sees the quick return to Craven Cottage of Heidar Helguson who moved to Bolton only a few weeks ago. In the build up to the fixture Sanchez spoke about Heidar.
Here`s what he had to say,
‘Heidar was a good servant to Fulham and I`ve got the highest regard for him and his character.”
“I spoke to Heidar after he went and said I`d see him when he comes down to the Cottage early in the season and he`ll look forward to that. He`s got no point to prove to me but when you play against your old club you always want to make a mark.”
Here`s hoping that Heidur gets a good reception of the Fulham supporters.
Fulham Team News:
Ahead of the clash, Lawrie Sanchez has already intimated that he`ll make several changes to his starting eleven. Lawrie suggested that, in the latter stages of the Arsenal game, some of his players struggled fitness wise.
Therefore we could see Diomansy make his full Premier League debut with Fulham probably partnering new club captain, Brian McBride up front.
One continued notable absentee will be Jimmy Bullard who is still pushing hard for a September / October comeback. Out of Lee Cook, Aaron Hughes and Ian Pearce, only Pearce has made the provisional squad for the game.
However, the fixture does give the Craven Cottage faithful the chance to get their first glimpses of several of the plethora of signings Sanchez has made during the close season.
With the words of Sanchez still ringing around our ears, we here at Vital Fulham are a little hesitant to name the starting eleven.
In goal, Warner looks set to continue with Niemi not fit enough for selection with his wrist injury requiring additional healing time.
Fulham (from) ; Warner, Baptista, Volz, Bocanegra, Christanval, Knight, Rosenior, Pearce, Baird, Konchesky, Diop, Dempsey, Davies, Smertin, Davis, Bouazza, John, McBride, Kamara, Healy
Player to watch: Brian McBride
Surprisingly, for some, awarded the captains arm band this season. However, his commitment wearing the white shirt of Fulham can never be questioned. He leads by example and although he`s in the twilight of his career, still gives defenders all sort of problems. He`s our tip for first goal scorer!
Bolton Team News:
Bolton manager, Sammy Lee, enters the fixture already under pressure. After taking over the managerial position, from Sam Allardyce, the last thing Sammy wanted was a heavy home defeat in the first game of the season, let alone exit the pitch 3-0 down at half time.
There are also problems surfacing off the pitch with El Hadj Diouf adamant that he wants a transfer if he`s not going to be picked regularly. It`ll be interesting how Lee copes with the added burden of being manager compared to just being an assistant.
Strangely, injuries to Vaz Te and Davies could give Diouf the opportunity to start on Wednesday.
However, Andy O`Brien, a recent signing from Portsmouth is set to make his debut in defence alongside Abdoulaye Meite who has recovered from a back problem.
Bolton (from); Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Meite, Faye, O`Brien, Cid, Samuel, Wilhelmsson, Nolan, Speed, McCann, Alonso, Braaten, Harasayni, Diouf, Anelka, Helguson, Al Habsi, Sinclair
Player to watch: Nicolas Anelka
Still a class act and a bit surprising he’s not moved on this summer!
Match Facts & Stats
Fulham have something of a hoodoo over the Lancashire side and hopefully that will continue as in six previous Premiership visits Bolton have never won and their only point came last August when the two sides played out a 1-1 draw
For the fixture at Arsenal, we tipped Fulham to emerge with a point; in hindsight we weren`t far wrong. For this fixture, we`ll predict a 2-1 win and our first three points on the board.
Our next fixture is another home fixture, on Saturday kick off 15:00 hours, against Middlesbrough.