Fulham, after five Premier League games without a victory, have the ideal chance to pick up three points this Wednesday when beleaguered Portsmouth visit Fratton Park. The fixture is, off course, the re-arranged date after the original succumbed to the ice-age that swept across England recently!
Portsmouth are in a strange position and have the sympathy of most other Premier League supporters who might utter that eternal phrase – but for the grace of god???..
Avram Grant is being reported as considering his future due to a string of broken promises but the Israeli seems content to stay and fight for the cause, remarking,
“I am here with the team and as long as I am here I will do my best. My future is not the issue.”
After tomorrow night, we wish him well!
Fulham Team News:
Roy Hodgson will still be without long term injury victims John Pantsil and Clint Dempsey and it`s highly unlikely that Paul Konchesky, Andrew Johnson and Simon Davies will be available for selection either. Joining them on the sidelines is Zoltan Gera who picked up a knee knock in training.
The long injury list means that Roy Hodgson may be inclined to give debuts to his new signings Nicky Shorey and Stefano Okaka.
It`ll be interesting who Roy decides to partner with Brede Hangeland at the back. Does he stick with Chris Smalling or does he pull Aaron Hughes back from right-back. Also available, after the completion of the African Cup of Nations, is Dickson Etuhu but, once again, this may be a fixture too soon.
Putting our heads above the parapet though, we have a suspicion that Roy might go with the following:-
Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, Shorey, Duff, Murphy, Greening, Riise, Zamora, Okaka.
Player to watch: Bobby Zamora
He`s been back in the fold now for a couple of games after his recent injury and Bobby will be looking to regain that scoring streak that saw his name and that of the national side often mentioned in the same sentence.
Portsmouth Team News:
Avram Grant is a man doing a job under extreme pressure, the behind the scenes pressures must be immense and I`d imagine he`s glad that the transfer window has finally passed enabling him to size up just who is left to form his squad. One deadline day departure saw Asmir Begovic leave Fratton Park for Stoke City leaving the keeping duties back in the hands of David James.
Also missing will be Younes Kaboul who was flogged to Spurs recently. However, with the transfer embargo lifted and with Portsmouth able to sign out of contract and loan players there could be a couple of new faces arriving shortly.
Injured and definitely out are Brown and Diop whilst doubts also exist about Belhadj, Kanu and Yebda who have all recently returned from African Cup of Nations duty!
Player to watch: John Utaka
Watched him have a decent game in Portsmouth`s recent fixture with Manchester City. Looks to have decent pace and his direct play could trouble us!
Match Facts & Stats
In the record books, it`s Pompey that hold the upper hand with 23 wins to the 13 of Fulham with 18 having been drawn.
Recently though Fulham have the upper hand with 3 wins and 1 draw in the last four meetings.
The man in charge will be Anthony Taylor.
Portsmouth are routed to the bottom of the table, they`re a club that the tabloids are describing as living from day to day, their best players have been sold, they`re the only club we`ve beaten away from home this season, so does common sense tell you that the three points are ours there for the taking! The only problem being is that this great game of ours can be so unpredictable! Nevertheless, this one has got home win written all over it although it could be harder than anticipated!
Next up in our Premier League campaign is a trip to Burnley this weekend.