Deflating is probably the best word to describe the impact of the last two weeks. Two weeks that have seen a three further games go by without a Fulham victory and the gap to safety grow, as every other relegation threatened team appeared to pick up a positive result. It’s an adjective, defined as “suddenly losing confidence or optimism.” I think it accurately represents the emotions of many a Fulham fan.
And yet, there are still 51 points to play for, and while it may seem a long shot, we have seen what a short run of positive results can do for a side. Brighton have won three of their last four. The only team they didn’t defeat on this run was in fact, The Cottagers. The results have seen them elevated ten points clear of the bottom three. Saturday versus West Ham United, begins a run of five games before Scott Parker goes head to head with the winning coaches of each of the past two seasons. If he is to steer his side away from the drop, he will be acutely aware that a run akin to that of The Seagulls needs to start soon, if not immediately.
The Hammers sit fifth in the Premier League, enjoying a very successful season. One that has East London dreaming of European football in Stratford. It will not be an easy game, as is the case with any Premier League encounter, but the previous 21 fixtures have already proven that to anyone who didn’t know it before the season began. Irons fans are waiting for the proverbial bubbles to burst, but they will be confident of their current spell lasting a little longer ahead of a visit to SW6 following a 3-1 win over Aston Villa in their most recent midweek fixture. They are now a tantalising two points beneath a Champions League spot.
Deflated is a term that can also be used to describe the end of a balloons lifespan. While inflated a balloon will rise. The Whites know that they will need to add the their two league wins urgently. West Ham provides the next opportunity to do just that and restore the hope among the fanbase that they can yet disprove the old adage that what goes up, must come down.
PREDICTION: FULHAM 2-1 WEST HAM UNITED
PREFERRED LINE-UP: 4-2-1-3
HEAD TO HEAD
LEAGUE RECORD (OVERALL)
- GAMES PLAYED – 84
- FULHAM WINS – 27
- DRAWS – 18
- WEST HAM WINS – 39
- GOALS SCORED – 120
- GOALS CONCEDED – 141
LEAGUE RECORD (HOME)
- GAMES PLAYED – 42
- FULHAM WINS – 19
- DRAWS – 8
- WEST HAM WINS – 15
- GOALS SCORED – 71
- GOALS CONCEDED – 55
BIGGEST WINS AT CRAVEN COTTAGE
FULHAM 5-0 WEST HAM (1936/37)
FULHAM 1-5 WEST HAM (1899/1900)
FULHAM 1-4 WEST HAM (1906/07, 1956/57)
FULHAM 3-0 WEST HAM (1934/35, 1965/66)
FULHAM 0-3 WEST HAM (1904/05, 1967/68)
LAST 5 GAMES
WEST HAM 1-0 FULHAM
WEST HAM 3-1 FULHAM
FULHAM 0-2 WEST HAM
FULHAM 2-1 WEST HAM
WEST HAM 3-0 FULHAM
- FULHAM – LDDLL
- WEST HAM – WLWWW
COLLINS JOHN’S VIEW
It was a very disappointing performance on Wednesday night. Leicester didn’t have a full strength team and were still able to comfortably control the game in second gear. It wasn’t a lack of effort from the lads, we looked busy but just didn’t seem to have any confidence or imagination. For the first time in a long time we seemed to lack the desire.
It’s looking very scary down the bottom now, especially after those back to back victories for Brighton against Spurs and Liverpool. It’s difficult to see how that doesn’t drain the hope out of the bottom three clubs. Fulham are my club though and I refuse to give up hope with so many games to go. We need to fight until it’s mathematically impossible to avoid relegation.
As for this weekends game, West Ham are in magnificent form and it’s not the best time to be playing them at the moment, but we’ve reached the point where fearing the opposition and trying to stop them doesn’t matter. It’s win or bust on Saturday, a draw is not good enough. So we need to get Mitro and Bobby Reid up top together and go for it like it’s a cup final.
Sadly, I think they will be too strong for us and based on how flat we were against Leicester, I think we will lose again, though it certainly won’t be because of a lack of effort. I hope I’m wrong! COYW!
PREDICTION: FULHAM 1-2 WEST HAM UNITED
BATTLE TO WATCH
ANDRE FRANK ZAMBO ANGUISSA VS TOMAS SOUCEK
Tomas Soucek scored the winner when the two sides last met, and has continued to provide important goals in The Hammers ascent up the table. He arrives in the box late, with runs from midfield making him hard to track and a physical presence that is also difficult to stop at set-pieces. It has led to eight goals a little over halfway through his sophomore season in England. Fulham’s own midfield talisman will have to be defensively aware if Fulham are to avoid being on the end of another decisive moment from the Czech international.
Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa is a far better physical match for Soucek than either Harrison Reed or Mario Lemina, of whom one is expected to partner the Cameroonian this weekend. If Soucek is able to get the run on either of our tough tackling, but diminutive midfield enforcers it will be a long night beside the River Thames. Anguissa may have to quell his own offensive desires to an extent to ensure that the potato salad enthusiast doesn’t sting Fulham for a second time in row. If that is the case then Scott Parker will need to look to another central outlet, and in recent games the formation hasn’t provided one. A change may be born out of necessity for this meeting, but it remains to be seen if the Head Coach will make an adjustment as he attempts to turn draws and losses into victories.
LAST TIME OUT
WEST HAM UNITED 1-0 FULHAM
The reverse fixture at London Stadium still lingers in the memory for the wrong reasons. Ademola Lookman’s ill-fated panenka serves as a brutal reminder of Fulham’s wastefulness in front of goal. It came at a time when Scott Parker was starting to see improvement in his teams defensive stability, and when West Ham scored a late winner it felt harsh, in no small part because of the officials interpretation of the offside rule. Up to that point Fulham had held their own and threatened the hosts, while also repelling some dangerous attacks. The Irons probably had the better of the play over 90 minutes, but no one would have begrudged The Cottagers leaving E20 with a point. They would have had one if it weren’t for a poor decision by a young man who has since shown far more composure in front of goal.
PLAYERS IN COMMON
Luis Boa Morte, Rufus Brevett, Wayne Bridge, Jimmy Bullard, Johnny Byrne, Papa Bouba Diop, Iain Dowie, Ryan Fredericks, Tony Gale, Jon Harley, Ray Houghton, Gabor Kiraly, Paul Konchesky, Jan Lastuvka, Kevin Lock, Archibald Macaulay, Andy Melville, Bobby Moore, John Pantsil, Scott Parker, Ian Pearce, Mladen Petric, Gerry Peyton, Leroy Rosenior, Bobby Zamora.