Date:Monday February 8 2010
Tuesday 9th February 2010
The Clarets still seek their first away win in the Premier League and now have a chance to do so this Tuesday night against 10th placed Fulham at Craven Cottage. They will be buoyed by their victory against fellow strugglers, West Ham at Turf Moor last Saturday; their first win in 13 league matches and the first under new manager, Brian Laws. The 2-1 defeat of the Hammers also took the Clarets out of the relegation zone and we are now 15th on 23 points with Fulham on 8 points more. We can`t be too complacent though being only two points clear of the third from bottom club but a win on Tuesday night would be a real boost for everyone concerned and at long last begin to put some clear blue water between ourselves and the other clubs below us trying to avoid relegation. Come on you Clarets!
Brian Laws might be tempted to play the same eighteen for this match after getting his first Clarets win under his belt against West Ham at Turf Moor on Saturday. There is no news of any further injuries and the only players who seem to be strong doubts are Steven Caldwell (persistent groin strain) and Graham Alexander (calf).
Chris McCann and Chris Eagles though could be in contention for a starting eleven place with Eagles surprisingly on the bench last Saturday and McCann given more time to recover from injury. It could depend on whether Laws is tempted to play with two strikers up front or one.
Chelsea loan midfielder, Jack Cork was on the bench last Saturday and it is likely Laws will do the same this time so we may have to wait to see him make his debut.
I will go for the same eighteen against Fulham which would be:
Jensen, Mears, Carlisle, Cort, Fox, Bikey, Elliott. McDonald, Blake, Nugent, Fletcher.
Subs: Weaver, Edgar, Duff, Eagles, Cork, Thompson, Paterson
Fulham forward Andrew Johnson has been ruled out for the rest of the season following exploratory knee surgery. It has been a torrid season for the former Everton striker having played just 13 matches. He has suffered from a dislocated collarbone and groin strain already this season and last played on 17 January against Blackburn.
Roy Hodgson looks to have a number of problems up front with United States international Clint Dempsey suffering knee ligament damage and Hungarian Zoltan Gera taking a blow to his knee in training recently. Bobby Zamora also suffered a dislocated collarbone in Fulham`s 3-2 defeat at Stoke last month and he was not in the eighteen that faced Bolton at the Reebok last Saturday. Zamora is Fulham`s leading goal scorer with 11 goals so far in all competitions. Hodgson may now be regretting letting Diomansy Kamara go out on loan to Celtic for the rest of the season although he has brought in Roma striker Stefano Okaka on loan until the end of the season.
Left back Paul Konchesky (ankle) is also sidelined for the foreseeable future, with Nicky Shorey having been brought in on loan from Aston Villa to provide cover in the back four. John Pantsil (knee) is also some way off a first-team return but Simon Davies may be in contention if he has recovered enough from an ankle injury.
The Australian international keeper was Fulham`s Player of the Year last season. This was also his first season at Craven Cottage after signing from Middlesbrough in May 2008 and agreeing a two-year deal. Clarets fans will be hoping he is kept busy on Tuesday night.
Only Steven Caldwell (groin) and Graham Alexander (calf) look doubtful for this game. Laws could be tempted to name the same eighteen unless there are any late injury announcements.
Back on the score sheet against West Ham on Saturday, it would be good for Nugent to maintain his goal-scoring form by bagging a couple against Fulham!
He says he is in the shop-window until he sorts out his long-term future in the summer so potential buyers (including Burnley if we stay in the top flight) will be looking for confirmation he is back to top form and can score consistently at this level.
We last played Fulham of course earlier in the season in the clash at Turf Moor in December last year. In the end it was a disappointing 1-1 draw although realistically with Fulham in good form this was an excellent point. After a shocking dire first half, Fulham took the lead on 50 minutes after a mistake by Caldwell let in Zamora. On the hour mark, a stunning shot by Elliott brought the score level and the match seemed to liven up but neither side could find the winner.
The last time Burnley were in the top flight in the 1975-6 season, Fulham were a mid-table side in the old second division and we would face them the following season following our relegation. We won at Turf Moor 3-1 that season with goals from Hankin, Bradshaw and Noble and we also got a point at Craven Cottage after a 2-2 draw. Two first half goals from Fletcher and Noble were squeezed between a Fulham opener after 16 minutes and a late equaliser by the Cottagers with just two minutes of play remaining. We would finish just one point and one place higher than Fulham in 16th place.
We have of course played Fulham quite a bit since then in the lower leagues and in the cup competitions. Craven Cottage was being renovated between 2002-2004 and our last away game against them was actually played at Loftus Road with Fulham sharing the stadium with QPR over this period. The match took place in February 2003 and was a FA Cup 5th Round clash in which we managed a 1-1 draw bringing the Cottagers to Turf Moor for a replay. This was an excellent result considering Fulham were now an established Premier League outfit following their promotion in 2001 and we were still a struggling Championship side.
Alan Moore opened the scoring after just 4 minutes of play but Fulham equalised on the stroke of half-time. The reply was even better news for the Clarets as Fulham once more failed miserably at Turf Moor this time going down 3-0. Taylor, Ian Moore and Diallo scored the goals that day. Fulham losing again had not won now at Turf Moor since April 1951 a record that still remains the same to this day.
The last time we played at Craven Cottage, it was Fulham`s promotion season as Champions and we went down 3-1 in September 2000. Three Fulham goals in the second half wiped out Cook`s opener after 10 minutes of play. We at least got a 2-1 victory in the return match at Turf Moor in February 2001 but it was frustrating season for the Clarets and we finished in 7th spot just two points off the play-offs.
St Helens referee, Chris Foy will be in charge of this one. He is certainly no stranger to games involving Burnley in the top flight. This is the fifth time so far he has been our referee this season. He was in charge of our home games against Sunderland and Bolton as well as the big derby away defeat to Blackburn and the eight goal thriller against West Ham at the Boleyn Ground.
For heaven`s sake surely we have to win one away this season?! This would be a great time to do it. We are in a good position having pulled ourselves clear of the relegation zone. With confidence high after the West Ham victory, a win at Craven Cottage against Fulham on Tuesday night would really put us in the driving seat and steady the relegation nerves even more. Fulham have put in some indifferent performances of late and although they are doing well in 10th spot on 31 points we might be able to get something from this one! I think and hope we are going to nick this one. 2-1 Clarets
There will now be a week`s break for the Clarets while those clubs still in the FA Cup battle it out next weekend in the 5th round ties.
We then continue our travels on Sunday 21st February with a trip to Villa Park. Aston Villa are currently riding high in 7th spot and are challenging for a top four finish. Please note that this match is not only on a Sunday but kicks off early at 2pm.
Date:Monday February 8 2010
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