The FourFourTwo Preview: Fulham vs West Ham
How much worse can it get?
Ah jeez, Fulham. That was bad. That was really bad. That was really, really, r- OK, you get the picture.
- Hull 6-0 Fulham (Prem)
- Norwich 1-2 Fulham (Prem)
- Fulham 2-4 Man City (Prem)
- Everton 4-1 Fulham (Prem)
- Fulham 2-0 Aston Villa (Prem)
WEST HAM FORM
- West Ham 3-3 WBA (Prem)
- West Ham 1-3 Arsenal (Prem)
- Man Utd 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
- Spurs 1-2 West Ham (LC)
- West Ham 0-0 S'land (Prem)
Up until last weekend, the Cottagers thought they might have turned a corner under new boss Rene Meulensteen, after two wins in their previous four against fellow scrappers Aston Villa and Norwich.
But then they go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like CONCEDING SIX GOALS AGAINST HULL CITY. Six, for crying out loud. Before that the Tigers, for their mightily impressive season, had only managed more than one goal in a game three times this term.
It means the west Londoners have now shipped a league-high 41 goals (nine more than any other side at over two per game) and remain in the bottom three by virtue of their badly bruised goal difference. Simply, they’re doing themselves no favours – they’ve conceded first on 14 occasions this term.
But again, up until the weekend the Cottagers might have fancied their chances of a clean sheet against New Year’s Day visitors West Ham. That is, until the goal-shy Hammers knocked in three against West Brom on Saturday.
It still wasn’t enough for Sam Allardyce’s strugglers in their “must win” 3-3 draw at Upton Park, but at the very least there were signs the east Londoners can put that round thing where it matters. Modibo Maiga finally netted his first league goal of the campaign, while Kevin Nolan got himself on the scoresheet for the first time since the opening day.
Worryingly, it’s starting to matter more as each week passes. Only Sunderland are below Big Sam’s boys in the table, although in increasingly tight circumstances they’re only a point adrift of safety.
But the Hammers have won only one of their last 12 games – against Fulham – and bemoan an extending injury list causing serious problems. Lightning needs to strike twice for some much-needed respite.
Fulham keeper Maarten Stekelenburg could return after an ankle problem, together with talisman striker Dimitar Berbatov after the Bulgarian’s three-game absence (groin). But the hosts are still without first-choice centre-back pairing Philippe Senderos (also groin) and Brede Hangeland (back).
James Tomkins was added to West Ham’s list of absentees after picking up a groin problem against West Brom, joining fellow defender James Collins (calf) on the sidelines. Ravel Morrison (groin) is set to return but the Hammers are still without Andy Carroll (ankle), Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder), Winston Reid (ankle) and Stewart Downing (calf).
After Tomkins’ injury on Saturday, the Hammers’ back four consisted of right-backs Guy Demel and Joey O’Brien, and left-backs George McCartney and Razvan Rat.
Player to watch: Steve Sidwell (Fulham)
For any Fulham player to come away from the KC Stadium mauling with credit is some feat, but Sidwell did just that. If Fulham are to pull off a result they’ll need the foundations of solidity, which the former Chelsea man certainly provides.
Against Hull he completed 49 of 56 passes (the third-highest of any player), recovered possession 8 times, weighed in with a game-high 5 of 6 tackles and managed 3 interceptions.
More of the same wouldn’t go amiss, although the Wandsworth-born midfielder will hope for a lighter defensive workload as he bids to add to his three goals for the campaign.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- W Ham 3-0 Fulham (Prem, Nov 13)
- Fulham 3-1 W Ham (Prem, Jan 13)
- W Ham 3-0 Fulham (Prem, Sep 12)
- Fulham 1-3 W Ham (Prem, Dec 10)
- W Ham 1-1 Fulham (Prem, Oct 10)
Embarrassed Fulham chief Meulensteen was forced to apologise to the 721 hardy souls who braved the disastrous Hull trip.
“I'd like to issue an apology to the travelling fans,” sighed the Dutchman. “I've asked myself and I've asked the players, but it's something I didn't see coming after the good result against Norwich.”
Beleaguered West Ham boss Allardyce, meanwhile, has bemoaned his thus-far unsuccessful attempts to lure new faces to Upton Park, with the transfer window looming.
“I have to say that, disappointingly, most of the targets we hoped to sign by January 2 are now not available, having either decided not to join us or ventured on a new negotiation elsewhere,” huffed the 59-year-old. “We've been at it for six weeks now and my need is ever more desperate.”
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Fulham didn't manage a single shot on target against West Ham in the reverse fixture in November.
- Carlton Cole has scored 7 goals in his last 9 Premier League games against Fulham.
- Fulham have had 1-1 scorelines in their last 6 home draws against bottom-six teams.
More FFT Stats Zone facts • Find the best odds with Bet Butler
Neither side have their first-choice centre-backs available, but both look equally inept at the other end. So does that mean there will be goals or won't be goals? If you're asking us, it's a game worthy of slow-motion highlights and Monty Python soundtrack. 0-0.