Well, after a wild first day in Week 3 of the Premier League, Fulham and Newcastle are up tomorrow. There were lots of penalties, but don’t look for Fulham to be giving up any, seeing as they conceeded one all of last season, and it was saved. They travel to Newcastle, looking for their first Premier League goal and victory of the young season.
State of Fulham:
Injuries have knocked this Fulham squad around a bit at the moment. John Arne Riise is out and may be for a decent amount of time with a leg injury suffered Thursday early in the Dnipro match, so look for young Matthew Briggs to get the start.
Fulham are coming to Newcastle on a 2-match goalless streak, and will most likely also be without Bobby Zamora again, who is still out with an ankle knock and that broken hand. It’s going to be a striker-less bench once again, and just like we saw at Dnipro, things didn’t go so well on the attacking end. However, the defense played their hearts out, and sent them through to the group stage, so look for another strong defensive performance at Newcastle as well. But even with that, Fulham need SOMEBODY to step up and score or they won’t be able to get their first 3 points of the season.
Fulham has history on their side, as the last time the Magpies beat Fulham was back in the 07/08 season. Also, Fulham have kept a clean sheet against Newcastle in their last 3 ties. Martin Jol’s thoughts:
“We have to do better. We have to play to our strengths and of course we could say we have got a lot of defensive qualities. The second half against Aston Villa and Wolves showed we are capable of scoring goals. But you have to do the business – score the goals and get the results. If you don’t do that, you play for a 0-0. Thursday, of course, was over two games so we were okay but to lose a game away from home was not what he wanted. For the confidence of the team, it is always better if you score a couple of goals and win these games. But we didn’t so it is still a worry but hopefully we can score against Newcastle because that is what we need. We need a result.”
That result could be a tough one to pull off because…
State of Newcastle:
…Newcastle haven’t conceeded a league goal yet this season, and their defense has been really solid, keeping Arsenal and Sunderland off the scoresheet. However, Newcastle needed extra time Thursday to beat Scunthorpe in the Carling Cup, and they lost defender Mike Williamson in the process. Williamson banged up his ankle pretty bad and will be out for 6 weeks. Also a doubt is Shola Amoebi, who missed Thursday’s match.
Joey Barton’s transfer to QPR has opened a spot in Newcastle’s midfield, and Alan Pardew has also brought in Erik Pieters from PSV Eindhoven, so a few squad shifts will be necessary. I wouldn’t expect to see Pieters in the lineup this weekend though, it’s a bit too soon after his transfer.
Newcomer Demba Ba was frustrated Thursday at Scunthorpe but has been a great aquisition overall for Newcastle up front, and look for him to be the one to get Newcastle on the score sheet if they indeed do.
For your enjoyment, here’s a quote from Alan Pardew from an interview on this match. I broke it down into two pieces:
“It is very important not to concede goals.”
Well…..no sh*t Alan. Thanks for the useful tip. Part 2:
“We will get more creative and flamboyant as we go on, but the first priority is to stop goals going in.”
Out of context, that’s horrifyingly dirty.
Anyways, moving on…
Here’s an interesting stat from BBC Sport before I get into the predictions: Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote had been booked in 6 straight matches before their last match with Sunderland. He did not receive a yellow at Sunderland, but has never in his Premier League career gone more than 3 matches without receiving a yellow card.
Fulham will win if: They score a freakin goal or two. Enough said.
Prediction: The offense is struggling right now. With play-finisher, not play-maker, Andy Johnson up front along with play-maker, not play-finisher, Moussa Dembele up front, you’d think the two would form a good partnership. However, it hasn’t happened yet, mainly because Dembele has failed to find Johnson open, choosing instead to pass the ball off to the other midfielders most of the time. We’ll see if they can get these 2 going, but until Fulham either add another striker via the transfer window or they get Zamora back, I’m going glass half empty here. Fulham drops this one on the road 2-0, and they fall to 0-2-1 in their first 3 league matches. Your predictions are welcome, so throw em in the comment section.