City v Fulham
Sunday 25 October 2009
Eastlands 3 PM kickoff
Manchester City return home to Eastlands to face a depleted Fulham squad playing their third match in seven days this Sunday. On paper, that should spell a serious tonking for Fulham given what City are capable of doing to clubs with their speed and counterattacking panache this season. However, City’s return to premier league action last weekend after the international break produced a hard won, but sometimes uninspiring, draw away at Wigan – a match that last season’s City side would likely have lost.
Will City step up against Fulham at home and produce some quality finishing that they need to pin their hopes on a Champions League place? Entertaining down-to-the-wire matches have been par for the course this season when it comes to City, and I’m sure the gaffer is hoping for a calm, collected 3-1 or 4-0 tonking of any side sometime soon to provide a bit of a breather for the first team. Fulham is unlikely to provide such relief if recent history is any indication.
City can expect the pressure of heightened expectations that only twelve months of freewheeling spending can create. City are a side who, sitting 5th in the league table, have already earned more points away from home this season after 8 matches than all of last season and will look to protect a perfect home record against Fulham this Saturday.
Fulham, seemingly unlikely European footballing participants just a few years ago, drew with Roma in their most recent Europa League outing this past week. Fulham fans will feel aggrieved at the result from a match where they put in the type of performance which probably should have given them three points on the day. City fans will look on with envy at Fulham’s European football after the excitement of last season’s UEFA Cup success, reaching the quarterfinals with some exciting wins, and ultimately capitulating to a well-drilled Martin Jol Hamburg side. However, to City’s advantage in this case it means Fulham will be playing their 3rd match within 7 days time come Sunday which should certainly favor City to give the Cottagers a case of dead leg and take them to the sword.
Fulham have overcome the potential threat of Roy Hodgson departing for the vacant Swedish national team gig with a big, fat “whew!” since Hodgson has been the difference between relegation fodder and legitimate top 8 footballing in his short time at Craven Cottage. Hodgson will field a team in a pretty rich vein of form given some injuries. That is down to Hodgson’s man management and setup. Will his threadbare squad succumb in a serious fashion away to City after gutty performances vs. West Ham and Roma showcasing their ability to rise above challenges?
Last time out City earned a draw at Wigan which was in some ways a lucky escape given they were down to 10 men at the end of the match.
Fulham were back to winning ways against Hull after earning a draw at West Ham when down to 10 men. Playing with a reasonably large set of injuries with a small squad and European football won’t do the squad any favors, but Fulham have proven they won’t roll over in the face of City’s technical depth and expertise.
Fulham have been one of City’s bogey teams as of late, and especially at home. Fulham have two fairly classic wins at Eastlands in the last two seasons which will need to be avenged on Sunday. League points dropped at home to Fulham would be the first real serious setback for City this season. They will look to avoid that at all costs, and keep their perfect home record intact.
Fulham – potentially missing from the Fulham squad could be Murphy, Johnson, Etuhu and Davies. Bobby Zamora and Clint Dempsey should return to feature after sitting out the Roma match at midweek.
City – Most if not all of the injured trio of Adebayor, Bellamy, and Kolo Toure should feature Sunday. Longterm injuries to Robinho and Ned Onuoha will keep them out of action for several more weeks. City will be lifted by the return of Vincent Kompany in case he’s needed after a short spell against Wigan last weekend.
City’s mercurial forward needs to press and fight a tight Fulham defense. His work rate on the day will be critical to the Blues success moving forward. He is likely to help spring Craig Bellamy or Carlos Tevez for chances on goal if he plays a good match and will also look to get back to scoring ways after first his suspension then injury have thwarted what was a fantastic start to his season. Hangeland and Hughes will have their hands full with Adebayor, but it should be an exciting matchup that should test both Adebayor’s fitness and technical skills.
Nigel De Jong
The Dutch midfielder has had some standout performances so far this season for City and is proving his worth after a back and forth campaign in the spring in the last half of last season. De Jong’s ability to control the midfield can trigger City’s breaks and control the tempo of the game. Speed is of the essence for City, and De Jong has to feed the speed machine with some quality play in front of the back four.
Deuce aka Clint Dempsey
American rapper cum footballer Clint Dempsey is a hard working grafter with some serious skill as well who always has an elbow for an opposing footballer to go along with his ability to grab clutch goals. City will need to ensure he’s marked well in the box, and given a good physical drubbing by some players to keep him in check. His rapping, for the record, is shocking. Chavtastic.
The goliath Norwegian defender will present interesting challenges to City’s forward line. Surprisingly still at Fulham after showcasing what seem to be world-class CB skills, Hangeland will provide a challenge for City to break down. His ability to dominate in the air, and on the ground will be key to Fulham snatching some points at Eastlands.
City’s Carling Cup victory a month ago will have shown that even a makeshift Fulham side will run their socks off to trouble City. Sunday will be no different despite Fulham’s injury concerns. Expect a focused Fulham side to try and rise above tired legs and injuries to battle City for an entire 90 minutes.
City 3 Fulham 2
A massive thanks to DoomMerchant from City Forum Mancityfans.net, for writing this match preview. You can discuss this and more on our forum on the link provided.