Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Fulham preview

With the stoppage time row subsiding (much as it pains me to say it the referee does, in retrospect, seem justified in playing as much time as he did), and Craig Bellamy having, somehow, avoided punishment for hitting the fan, the remaining open issues from the derby seem to have been tied up. Which is a relief. Disappointments like Sunday can eat away if not dealt with correctly.

To complete the process of moving on, to get what victims of crime call 'closure', we need a good win against Fulham this evening. We must not allow our frustration at failing to get a point at Old Trafford (not many teams do, you know) to let our eyes drift off our targets. And for all the 'City can make the top four' stuff we're hearing at the moment (maybe we can, but we'll see) we cannot ignore the importance of the domestic cups.

So a win tonight is crucial. Fortunately, we've got a decent shot. Roy Hodgson, who is attempting to juggle three tournaments (one of which is the newly-inflated Europa League group stage), has declared that he will put out a second string side this evening. I'd like to think that we could beat Fulham's first team at home, but it stands to reason that we are more likely to beat their second eleven than their first choice. It is worth remembering Fulham's bizarrely good record at CoMS: since the start of the 2005/06 season they have won only nine away games in the Premier League - and three of them have been at Eastlands.

What sort of team will we put out? It seems as if Craig Bellamy, despite avoiding an FA ban, will not play anyway due to his niggling knee injury. Which leaves us with no fit forwards. Carlos Tévez seems to be less injured than Roque Santa Cruz or Robinho, and less suspended that Emmanuel Adebayor and so will have to lead the line again. Unless Vladimir Weiss is given his first start we should see Martin Petrov and SWP either side of Carlitos. The midfield three will presumably continue to be Nigel de Jong, Gareth Barry and Stephen Ireland. And I don't forsee any changes in defence unless Hughes decides to give Pablo Zabaleta or Sylvinho a game.

I like it. And I'm feeling confident. How does 3-0 sound? Two for Tévez and one for Ireland. And some game time for Vlad and maybe even David Ball too. I won't be able to watch the game though so my post-match post will just be a few general points. If you want analysis and player ratings you will have to go elsewhere.

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