Again, a shortened preview this afternoon as I’m up against the clock a bit.
Fulham fans will, of course, already know that trips to Turf Moor aren’t exactly filled with joy. We haven’t won at Burnley since 1951 and have only drawn four of 24 league games in that time too. In recent years, our Cup visits have hardly been rewarding either – we were the first of the capital’s Premier League visits to fall on Burnley’s amazing League Cup run last year.
Owen Coyle’s side were widely regarded as cannon fodder after surprising most of the ‘experts’ in gaining promotion last season. Instead of occupying their supposed place in the bottom three, Burnley have relished their return to the big time and nobody enjoys a trip to Turf Moor. Burnley’s home form has been sensational – turning over Manchester United early in the season was just the start.
Coyle’s side don’t just lump it forward either. They have some talented technicians in their midfield and like to pass it. Chris Eagles, someone Sir Alex Ferguson surprisingly let go a couple of years ago, has always impressed me when I’ve seen him and the evergreen Robbie Blake can always be relied on to put in a performance. There are plenty more reasons than our wretched record to be fearful of this one. Both David Nugent, running into some form on loan at Burnley, and Scottish striker Steven Fletcher will be keen to keep Hangeland and Hughes busy.
Points on the road would be welcome as would a more adventurous display than our effort at Birmingham. Roy Hodgson doesn’t have a great deal of choice in his line-up, though. This game comes too soon for Andy Johnson and Diomansy Kamara as both forwards continue to recover from recent operations and there aren’t likely to be as many options in midfield either. Simon Davies took a nasty knock in the win over Sunderland and could struggle to be fit, while the word is that Dickson Etuhu will miss out as well. That’s a shame as we could have done with the Nigerian’s presence in midfield. Chris Baird will continue to step in admirably alongside either Danny Murphy or Jonathan Greening.
Can we break the Turf Moor curse tomorrow? I’m not optimistic but this might just be one of those games that a confident Bobby Zamora relishes.
MY FULHAM XI (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Konchesky, Hughes, Hangeland; Baird, Murphy, Duff, Dempsey; Zamora, Nevland. Subs: Stockdale, Smalling, Kelly, Gera, Riise, Dikgacoi, E. Johnson.