Not even moving our fixture to a Sunday can diminish the anticipation that Fulham Football Club stand a realistic chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for a second successive season.
A victory over League Two side Notts County will put us into a last eight that will definitely be devoid of the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. Is the competition opening up for us like never before? Could this Sunday witness a St Valentines Day massacre?
Ahead of the clash, Roy Hodgson has taken the opportunity to urge David Elm to make the most of his recent chance of securing regular first team football remarking,
‘He has had two very good games on the trot.”
‘What we are going to find with him, I’m sure, is that it’s going to weigh heavily on him game after game but it was really good to see that he has repaid the faith that we’ve always had in him.”
‘We’ve seen a good player in him and we have always believed that if he got his chance, he would be good enough to take it. He now has to grasp the nettle.’
My money is on Elm to at least get on the score sheet on Sunday, possibly twice!
Fulham Team News:
Roy Hodgson has already spoken about how the FA Cup is perceived as our only possible route for a return to European action next season. He`s also stated that he`d like to win this majestic trophy as a manager and we believe every effort will be made to give it our best shot this year.
Roy will still have to contend with being without the services of John Pantsil, Clint Dempsey and Andrew Johnson, all of whom are long term casualties injury wise but we understand Paul Konchesky and Zoltan Gera are both back in light training and could feature in the eighteen man squad for the forthcoming Europa League tie.
Here at Vital Fulham we expect Roy Hodgson to confirm his statement about going for a historic cup win by fielding the same, strong, starting eleven that brushed Burnley aside in midweek!
Player to watch: David Elm
The Swede has taken time to settle into English football but is now showing that he can deliver the goods. Having scored his first Premier League goal it`ll be interesting to see if David can prove to be as efficient against a side from a lower league who will be far more physical with their tackling!
Notts County Team News:
Notts County, having lost the input of Sven Goran Eriksson this week following their latest takeover, still have a caretaker manager in charge in the shape of Dave Kevan.
Kevan has a full strength squad to choose from and will be pondering over whether to recall Delroy Facey to his starting eleven after the player returned from a loan spell at Lincoln City.
Player to watch: Lee Hughes
A prolific scorer who many thought would move onwards and upwards from Notts County in the January transfer window. The lad has, how you say a colourful past, but with his time served the ex-West Bromwich Albion player has gotten back into the professional ranks and is showing his natural goal scoring skills.
Match Facts & Stats
They often say that the formbook goes out of the window in FA Cup ties and our narrow but hardly convincing previous round wins over Swindon Town and Accrington Stanley probably proves the point.
But what of past meetings with Notts County?
Well the record books show we have the edge. In the last three games between the two sides, at Craven Cottage, Fulham have won all three and are unbeaten in the last seven with County not having registered a win in West London against us, since October 1979
Alan Wiley, of Staffordshire, will be the man in charge.
Notts County, even though they`ve just gone through a troubled takeover, are no mugs. A 2-0 win at Wigan, in round four, emphasised that they are able to live with a Premier League side if they are allowed to. But, Roy will be keen to progress into round six, he`ll have had words with his side about complacency and we`ve every reason to be confident. In fact if we can get off to a good start we could be looking at quite a comfortable afternoon, a bit like the midweek win over Burnley. 3-0 again, for me!
We face two home games on the trot after this FA Cup encounter. The first is An Europa League tie against the current UEFA Cup holders, Shakhtar Donetsk, this Thursday, before greeting Birmingham City to Craven Cottage next Sunday.
Any replay required from this fixture (Notts County) will take place on Sunday 7th March!