It feels like the past couple of weeks have dragged since our magnificent 3-0 victory over Stoke City. International breaks can be frustrating disruptions during the campaign, and it’s important that we don’t allow this one to stunt our momentum. On the other hand, for a side like Blackpool who have struggled to cope with the step up from League One, the break came at the perfect time following a winless start to life in the Championship.
Fulham had several first teamers away on international duty, which makes it hard to gauge the match fitness of players going into Saturday’s game. Marco Silva confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Mitrovic, Wilson, Ream and Robinson need to be assessed ahead of tomorrow’s trip and the USA didn’t play until the early hours of Thursday morning GMT, which would be a very short turnaround for the left-hand side of our back four. It’ll be interesting to see if Marco opts to rotate things with one eye on the midweek fixture in Birmingham.
Meanwhile, it’s been a slow start for Neil Critchley’s side, with both of their points so far coming on their travels. The Tangerines have failed to keep a clean sheet in their five league games and have lost both league matches at Bloomfield Road. The contrast in both clubs’ starts to the season bodes well for The Whites who haven’t conceded first so far in all competitions. 10 of our 15 goals have come in the first half and once Fulham take an early lead, it allows us to control the game without having to force the issue against 11 men behind the ball. Silva’s side have been very professional in the way they have approached games so far this season and I expect them to be fully focused going into this one.
We could see debuts for Chalobah, Quina and Muniz this weekend, and it’s been an added bonus that they have had a few days to settle in at Motspur Park during the break. I can see a couple of them making their debuts, albeit most likely off the bench. We now have a wealth of options and there will be little sympathy for Silva or Fulham if we need to juggle things about on Saturday.
I am usually someone who prefers continuity with the starting XI, but we have so many options that it makes it very difficult to ignore them and somewhat careless if players are returning with jet lag and/or aren’t 100%. It’s difficult to expect anything other than a away win at this point and I have full faith in whichever XI Silva opts to go with. But the fact that Ream didn’t play for the USA last time out and Mitro being Mitro, I’ve opted to predict that they will keep their places and Bryan/Neeskens will fill in for Antonee Robinson and Harry Wilson.
WHAT THE MANAGERS HAVE SAID
NEIL CRITCHLEY: “They’ve got an experienced manager, they’re a good team and they’ve started well, so we’re under no illusions of the task we’ve got in front of us. But we can take a lot of heart from the performances we’ve given so far this season.”
MARCO SILVA: “It’s up to us to go, to respect them, respect ourselves as well, and put the same demand on ourselves and play with the same ambition to get the three points. But for sure, it will be one more difficult game for us.”
SCORE PREDICTION: Blackpool 0-3 Fulham
PREDICTED LINE-UP: 4-2-3-1
H2H LEAGUE RECORD (OVERALL)
- PLAYED – 102
- FULHAM WINS – 35
- DRAWS – 31
- BLACKPOOL WINS – 36
- GOALS SCORED – 129
- GOALS CONCEDED – 133
H2H LEAGUE RECORD (AWAY)
- PLAYED – 51
- FULHAM WINS – 11
- DRAWS – 14
- BLACKPOOL WINS – 26
- GOALS SCORED – 54
- GOALS CONCEDED – 88
LAST 5 GAMES
- BLACKPOOL 0-1 FULHAM
- FULHAM 2-2 BLACKPOOL
- BLACKPOOL 1-2 FULHAM AET (FA CUP)
- FULHAM 1-1 BLACKPOOL (FA CUP)
- FULHAM 3-0 BLACKPOOL
BIGGEST WINS AT BLOOMFIELD ROAD
- BLACKPOOL 6-2 FULHAM (1956/57 – FA CUP)
- BLACKPOOL 4-0 FULHAM (1927/28, 1950/51)
- BLACKPOOL 2-5 FULHAM (1960/61)
- BLACKPOOL 4-1 FULHAM (1924/25)
- BLACKPOOL 3-0 FULHAM (1922/23, 1923/24, 1964/65)
PLAYERS IN COMMON
Sone Aluko, Hameur Bouazza, Mike Conroy, Sean Doherty, Luke Garbutt, James Husband, Joe Lewis, Andy Lonergan, Udo Onwere, Phil Stant, Tony Warner.
DID YOU KNOW?
Blackpool are the only club that Fulham have played 100 league matches against. This will be the 103rd league meeting between the sides.
We spoke to the Seasiders Podcast to get a Blackpool perspective ahead of Saturday’s trip to Bloomfield Road…
What are your expectations for Blackpool this season?
To consolidate in the division and not go straight back down! I expect us to finish in the bottom half but stay up, about 18th.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a squad?
Very good strike force in Jerry Yates and Shayne Lavery and a very astute coach in Neil Critchley. Can out fox teams with better players and bigger budgets. Weaknesses, we lack a midfield general, talisman and creative midfield force.
What is your reaction to your transfer window dealings?
Happy overall, we didnt have a registered right back at the club since the start of the season and signed two on deadline day! Jordan Gabriel from Notts Forrest and Dujon Sterling from Chelsea who is an England u21.
If you could have one Fulham player at Blackpool, who would you sign and why?
Aleksander Mitrovic. A proven goal machine at this level!
Heart says 1-1, head says 1-3!