This Saturday Fulham travel to Reading in a game that is probably the most important fixture we`ve played in during recent years. With our side six points adrift from safety and with only five games left, it really is a game we must win, anything other than a win will see another nail hammered into that relegation trap door. Just a few weeks ago Reading were also considered to be in the relegation dog-fight, however, some astute results now mean the Berkshire side are all but safe, showing just how fortunes can be turned around in relatively quick fashion in this wonderful sport of ours thereby possibly giving us some hope even with only five games left.
Our plight seems to have reached the playing staff or Reading. Knowing that we`re effectively dead men walking with Reading`s Irish striker Kevin Doyle remarking,
“Fulham won`t be an easy game, because this is almost their last chance saloon. They have to get something from the game, they probably need to win it. So they`ll be massively up for it, they won`t be sitting back. They`ll be going for it and that might suit us.”
Reading Team News:
With regards to the home team news, two ex-Fulham players – Marcus Hahnemann and Liam Rosenior – could feature.
Marek Matejovsky has served his suspension and is available for selection whilst Glen Little and Graeme Murty have both recovered from injury and are also available for selection.
Reading from – Hahnemann, Federici, Rosenior, de la Cruz, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Sonko, Duberry, Shorey, Oster, Matejovsky, Harper, Hunt, Convey, Kitson, Doyle, Long, Murty.
Player to watch: Liam Rosenior
We should never have sold him, end of story!
Fulham Team News:
After the defensive lapses against Sunderland, Roy Hodgson has a lot to ponder over. Should he change the central defensive partnership that has served us well apart from last weekend or should he make changes? It could be a no-win situation, changes could further destabilise confidence in an area that has served us well in recent weeks. Our suspicions are that Roy will stick with what he has.
In midfield, Roy will be looking for Jimmy Bullard to make his mark with Andreasen acting as the enforcer. However, depending on whether Roy decides to go with a 4-5-1, 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 will determine the make up of the remainder of the midfield. Simon Davies is likely to get the nod whilst some would argue that there is a case for recalling Danny Murphy to add some extra guile to the area.
Personally, I`d prefer Roy to go for a 4-4-2 formation for this fixture pairing Brain McBride with David Healy up front and going with a starting eleven of,
Keller, Stalteri, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Andreasen, Bullard, Davies, Murphy, McBride, Healy
Player to watch: Jimmy Bullard
Already this week Jimmy has suggested that his own satisfaction at returning from injury has been diminished by the fact the team has been struggling so badly. Since his come back, Jimmy has looked to be our shining light. He started the game against Sunderland, last weekend, as if he meant business but unfortunately faded just after the hour mark. If we are to get that elusive away win to kick start our survival drive then we need Jimmy to be in sparkling form against Reading.
Match Facts & Stats
The historical statistics for games played between the two sides on Reading`s patch would seem to indicate that Reading are favourites to win, they read as follows,
Premier League – Reading 1win, Fulham 0 wins, Draws 0
All League Fixtures – Reading 8 wins, Fulham 5 wins, Draws 2.
However when you consider all League matches between the two sides you stumble across a startling piece of information with both teams having won 127 draws.
Perhaps we could also take consolation from the fact that Reading have only taken a single point off of a London team this season (losing the other six).
Also, we did well remarkably well in the reciprocating fixture this season winning 3-1 thanks to goals by Davies, Dempsey and Healy with Doyle replying for Reading.
Chris Foy will officiate.
Can we really end our horrific away run? Can we really register an away win, in the Premier League, for the first time since that memorable day at St James Park in September 2006? Off course we can! All it`ll take is a lot of luck, the run of the ball and a performance whereby the minds are focussed, the defensive lapses are kept to a minimum and most of importantly of all and we have total belief in ourselves. It`s not going to be easy, Reading have a very reasonable away record but this is the first of five cup finals we face, if we are to survive we need to win and for once, I believe we will. I`ve dispensed with all the blarney of previous weeks, this one is from the head and the heart, after ninety minutes we`ll be making the return trip up the M4 with three points, remain confident, that`s the spirit!