Well, as disappointing and uninspiring the performance and as difficult as it was to watch, it may be a blessing in disguise that Fulham have come crashing out of the FA Cup, as the rest of their fixtures this season will be league matches. It’s all about the league now. The road doesn’t get any easier, but before their third match in Manchester in 2 weeks, a midweek fixture at home requires our attention. West Ham, currently 12th in the league, have been an inconsistent bunch this season, albeit at their best they’ve looked quite deadly. Fulham fans only have to look back to their crushing 3-0 defeat from Upton Park back in September to see that best-case-scenario West Ham side.
There’s a possibility we could see a debutant take the ground at Craven Cottage on Wednesday, with Martin Jol’s first first-team signing of the January transfer window looking at a fitness test ahead of the tie.
State of Fulham:
It’s been rough going recently. I could give you all the numbers about how Fulham have won just 6 of their 23 league matches this season. I could tell you they haven’t won a match since December 10th against Newcastle at home. I could tell you how Fulham are just 6 points above the drop. But you don’t need all those numbers if you watched the Cup match against United. It was ugly. It was troubling. I don’t want to get too worked up over it, since it’s the FA Cup and that’s not what’s important right now, and the players/manager probably realize that as well. HOWEVER, I tried to stay positive after the match on Twitter, and was bombarded with tweets telling me how it’s not the scoreline or the opponent that matters, it’s how we looked, and that has a lot of fans worried sick.
We could see a bright spot in this match, as it’s possible Emmanuel Frimpong could see game action in light of his loan move to Craven Cottage. However, Martin Jol first wants to test Frimpong’s fitness, and knowing the Dutchman’s previous actions, it’s not like him to toss new guys out there right away.
On the injury front, it’s pretty much the same as this weekend from Old Trafford. Mahamadou Diarra’s out for another 3-4 weeks. Kerim Frei is also out, and although Simon Davies is close to returning, this match may be just a touch too quick for him.
State of West Ham:
West Ham isn’t having a fantastic run of form in the recent going either. You can pick any arbitrary period of recent games for West Ham and it doesn’t look too good. 2 points from their last 6 matches. 1 win in last 11 matches. 3 wins in their last 18 matches. Their last win was New Year’s Day at Upton Park against Norwich. For West Ham, their next few matches are crucial to their season. Sitting in 12th at the moment in a position of mid-table obscurity that Fulham are very familiar with, March (plus the weeks before and after) sees the Hammers face 6 clubs in a row all in the top 10, so they’ll be looking to get as many points before that as possible in order to weather the storm of March.
They’ll be looking to get Andy Carroll’s help during this important stretch. The Liverpool loanee has been out since the middle of November with a bum knee, and it’s up in the air whether he’ll be ready to go for the trip to Craven Cottage, but early reports seem to indicate there’s a good chance of him playing. In other Hammers injury news, young defender Daniel Potts is out after getting popped by Bacary Sagna against Arsenal (he was knocked unconscious).
EA Sports Stats of the Match:
- West Ham have lost 5 of their last 6 away league matches and have managed just 6 goals in their last 11 away matches.
- West Ham are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 matches against Fulham in all competitions.
- Fulham have just 2 points in 5 matches against London opponents this season – Steve Sidwell is tied for second in the Premier League with 62 successful tackles, according to the EA Sports Player Performance Index. He’s contributed defensively (tackle, interception, block, clearance) every 10 1/2 minutes, best of any midfielder in the league.
- West Ham’s Joey O’Brien has attempted 45 tackles this season, but has been successful on just 22 of them (48.9%).
I think this will be an exciting match with goals. Both defenses have been poor recently, and both are coming off games where they were leaky at the back to say the least. I think at this point whoever’s home gets the three points, and since it’s at Craven Cottage, Fulham get the edge in my mind. I’ll give it 2-1 Fulham, although even more goals finishing around 2-2 wouldn’t surprise me at all. This is about as much of a must-win as you can get at this point in the season, and a vital 3 points. Fulham lose this match, or even draw, and Martin Jol’s job status would seem even more in jeopardy.Published 29 Jan 2013, 17:20 IST