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West Ham winning the playoff on Saturday means that they join Southampton and Reading  in the Premier League next year along with England’s’ best. I was in London on Saturday watching my beloved Ulster get destroyed in the Heineken Cup final by a fantastic Leinster side at Twickenham. Everywhere I looked in London; it seemed that all I could see were Ulster, Leinster or West Ham fans! I did see the odd person sporting a Blackpool jersey but generally London had been dominated by either those from the Emerald Isle or from London’s East End. So I thought that I would have a look at the new boys, key players and what our record is like against each of them.

Reading- Won the Championship

After going down the same year of Fulham’s unbelievable escape from the drop, Reading have spent a number of years the England’s’ 2nd league fixing their squad and playing good attacking football. The finish at the top of the league was fairly tight but they enjoyed a good end of the season to allowing them to take control at the top and book automatic promotion back to the big time. They play at the Madejski Stadium.

Key Players

Adam Federici (Goal keeper)- After a number of years of making the bench and going on loan to various clubs, Adam has now firmly established himself as Readings number one. The Australian even has a game or two in the Premier League under his belt from Readings last time in the PL. He will still have a lot to learn but looking at the likes of John Ruddy and Vorm, I wouldn’t be surprised if he impressed next year.

Jobi McAnuff (midfielder) – This guy was one of the Championships most dangerous players. After many fantastic displays he was promoted to captain which proves that not only is he a great player, he also has the leadership skills that every team needs. Staying in the Premier League is a very difficult task so teams like Reading will need players to stand up and be counted and I think that McAnuff will be that guy for the Royals.

Fulhams’ Record

We have had games against Reading from the old 3rd Division right up to the Premier League. Fulham have had more wins with 17 to Reading 14 and we have drawn 12 times over all. Fulham have edged it for goals as well with 51 to Readings 44. Reading were the only team that we did the double against last time we were in the league together so here’s hoping the good run against them continues next season.

Southampton- 2nd Place in Championship

For a while it looked like Southampton would gain the top prize but they ended up only just beating West Ham to automatic promotion. I watched their last game and it is evident that they ain to score as many goals as possible. They are a good side and it is hard to believe that it wasn’t long ago that they played in League 1. Boss Nigel Atkins claims that he will not change the Saints’ style of play but will try and stay in the PL their way. I’m excited about seeing them against us because I haven’t seen it before! I was too young a supporter to really know who Fulham where playing every week when they were last in the league so I’ll look forward to it.

Key Players-

Adam Lallana (Midfielder) – Netting 11 times this season, the midfielder certainly has a good eye for goal. Not only does he score goals, but he also creates a lot of goal scoring opportunities. Every team needs someone to provide chances so if he can adapt to the PL then he could be a vital player for their survival chances.

Ricky Lambert (striker) – 88 goals in 3 seasons, 27 in this campaign alone, Lambert likes to score goals! He has been a stand out performer for the Saints’ over the past 3 seasons and has now helped them gain promotion from the Championship as well as League One. He is a great player and will hope to continue scoring goals in the PL.

Fulhams’ Record

Out of 59 matches between the 2 teams, Southampton have the better record with 22 wins to Fulhams’ 18 with 19 draws. They also better us in goals with 93 to our 74. Does this suggest some goal fests next year?

West Ham- Playoff winners

In my opinion West Ham are the most likely of the 3 to stay up next year but maybe that is just because I have seen them play more that the other 2 teams. I think they have a very good squad and were unlucky to miss out on 2nd place. This gives us another London derby and Fulham did quite well in these this year. Derby’s always add a bit of extra spice to games so the more the better. They come straight back up after being relegated last year and will be determined to keep their place this year.

Key Players- So many, who to choose?

Kevin Nolan (midfielder) – I was quite disappointed when he went to West Ham as I thought he would have been a good buy for us when he left Newcastle. He is a very inspiring character and has had a great season in East London scoring 13 goals. He also has a lot of PL experience and will know what it takes to stay in the league so will be very important for West Ham next season.

Ricardo Vaz Te (striker) – He may have only joined in January but the guy has skill! He made a great impact at West Ham and scored the vital winner on Saturday against Blackpool. In 16 appearances he got 12 goals and that doesn’t include the goals he scored the first half of the season before he joined West Ham. He is calm but West Ham will be hoping that he will stay calm with the pressures of next season!

Fulhams’ Record-

In 85 matches we have managed 28 wins to West hams’ 37 while 20 have been drawing. There have been a lot of goals in West Ham-Fulham matches with a total of 258 between the 2 teams with West Ham again in the lead with 135 to our 123.

I get excited very early for the new PL season and I can’t wait to see the likes of Reading and Southampton there, 2 teams who have been out for a while. The PL just keeps getting better and better every year and the teams gaining promotion haven’t been afraid to play proper football to help them survive (Just look at Norwich and Swansea!) so I think the league will be even more unpredictable as it was this year.