The FourFourTwo Preview: Fulham vs West Brom
The most accurate shooters to date (no, seriously) vs the most wayward.
The international break arrived at a good time for both these sides, who'll be targeting Saturday as a chance to kick-start their seasons. An opening day success at Sunderland has proved a false dawn for Fulham fans. Despite being the league's most accurate shooters with 59% of their 24 attempts on target, they've managed just the two goals and been beaten by Arsenal (spiritedly) and Newcastle (meekly).
At least Martin Jol’s men have managed to score a couple of goals, which is more than can be said for Steve Clarke’s charges. After finishing eighth last season, the Baggies have failed to net in their opening three games, with just 4 attempts on target out of a combined 28 making them the most wayward team in the league.
- Newcastle 1-0 Fulham (Prem)
- Burton 2-2 Fulham (LC, 4-5 pens)
- Fulham 1-3 Arsenal (Prem)
- West Brom 0-2 Swansea (Prem)
- West Brom 3-0 Newport (LC)
- Everton 0-0 West Brom (Prem)
West Brom’s transfer deadline-day bid to bring last season’s 17-goal sensation Romelu Lukaku back to The Hawthorns failed as the Belgium starlet chose Everton. Clarke has instead splashed more than £15 million on Stephane Sessegnon and Victor Anichebe to try and fire them off the foot of the table. Rising youngster Saido Berahino may yet have a part to play, however. The Burundi-born striker has a League Cup treble to his name this term against Newport and notched twice for England under-21s in the past week against Moldova and Finland.
Also, somewhat unexpectedly, unavailable is Irish forward Shane Long. The 26-year-old, who has scored eight league goals in each of the past two seasons, saw a deadline day move to Hull collapse, but Clarke insists he still has a part to play: "Shane is a very, very important member of our squad. I'm delighted he’s here."
James Morrison is still struggling with the groin injury that kept him out of Scotland’s World Cup qualifiers, while Steven Reid missed out against Swansea and may not yet be ready to return. Matej Vydra (hamstring), Ben Foster (foot) and Zoltan Gera (knee) remain on the sidelines, but new additions Anichebe, Sessegnon and Marseille midfielder Morgan Amalfitano are available. Fulham trio Aaron Hughes (groin), Maarten Stekelenburg (shoulder) and Kieran Richardson (hamstring) are still unavailable.
Player to watch: Morgan Amalfitano (WBA)
Fulham were also interested in West Brom’s deadline day arrival from Marseille. A technically adept midfielder, both in defence and attack, Amalfitano is predominantly right-sided but versatile enough to play on the opposite flank. The 28-year-old has won one cap for France, against Germany in 2012, and got an assist.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- West Brom 1-2 Fulham (Jan 13)
- Fulham 3-0 West Brom (Sep 12)
- Fulham 1-1 West Brom (Feb 12)
- West Brom 0-0 Fulham (Sep 11)
- Fulham 3-0 West Brom (Jan 11)
Jol came out on top in both fixtures last season, comprehensively winning 3-0 at Craven Cottage last September prior to a New Year’s Day triumph at The Hawthorns courtesy of Dimitar Berbatov and Alex Kacaniklic goals.
But Clarke is in bullish mood after his deadline-day dealings: “We're definitely in a better place. We're stronger and competitive. We've got some good players in and hopefully that will show very quickly in the results. We've been looking for more creativity and hopefully we'll see some positive signs on Saturday of what we've been trying to do in training.”
Facts and figures
- Fulham have lost eight of their last 11 Premier League games, winning just seven points overall (W2 D1) in this period.
- West Bromwich Albion are the only side yet to score a goal in the Premier League this season.
- Swansea City (in 2011/12) were the last team to fail to score in their opening four games of a Premier League season.
- This will be WBA’s 40th Premier League away game in London – they have only won four of the previous 39 (W4 D9 L26)
- The Baggies have avoided defeat just once in six Premier League visits to Craven Cottage (D1 L5).
- Martin Jol’s side are the most accurate shooters in the Premier League so far this season; hitting the target with 59% of their shots.
- West Brom have been the most wayward team in front of goal; getting just 20% of their efforts on target.
- No goalkeeper has made more saves than David Stockdale (14) so far this season.
- The Whites have lost each of their last five home league matches; their longest such run in the Premier League.
- Having got off to their best-ever start to a Premier League season last term (seven points from first four games), failure to win against Fulham will mean West Brom’s worst return from their opening four games (currently three points from first four games in 02/03, 04/05 and 11/12).
Fulham have lost their last five home games, although their opponents have included Arsenal (twice), Chelsea and Liverpool. But this is a fixture they have enjoyed over the years, winning 6 of the last 7 league meetings at Craven Cottage - a venue where West Brom have not triumphed in the league since 1967. 1-0.
Fulham vs West Brom LIVE ANALYSIS using online Stats Zone