Painfully dull low scorers host slightly less dull low scorers.
Sigh. Perhaps the only people who’ll see this game are those at Craven Cottage or the coffee-fuelled die-hards willing to stay up until the end of Match of the Day.
- Fulham 2-1 Everton (LC)
- Chelsea 2-0 Fulham (Prem)
- Fulham 1-1 West Brom (Prem)
- Newcastle 1-0 Fulham (Prem)
- Burton 2-2 Fulham (LC)
- West Ham 3-2 Cardiff (LC)
- Cardiff 0-1 Tottenham (Prem)
- Hull 1-1 Cardiff (Prem)
- Cardiff 0-0 Everton (Prem)
- Accrington 0-2 Cardiff (LC)
Let’s be honest, this isn’t going to be pretty. While Fulham have coughed and spluttered their way to four points from their first five games, Prem new boys Cardiff have fared only slightly better.
Most annoyingly, they’re the top flight’s joint-lowest scorers with just four goals apiece. While that was expected from the Welsh side, Martin Jol’s Cottagers can have few excuses for another dismal league position.
The Dutchman is under fire, and rightly so. Since winning at Sunderland on the opening day, Fulham have picked up just a point from the following four games. It doesn't help that Brede Hangeland has already had three different partners at the back.
They did, at least, beat Everton in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night with goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent. And that’s more than Cardiff managed, after fluffing their two-goal fightback to lose 3-2 at West Ham.
But the Bluebirds were unfortunate in defeat to Spurs last weekend despite the visitors’ dominance, and just two defeats from their first five games is sure to satisfy Malky Mackay.
The Scot has seen his side draw a blank in three of their five games this season and a little more ambition might be needed in London.
Fulham could welcome back Bryan Ruiz and Aaron Hughes, who will both undergo fitness tests ahead of the game, but goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg remains sidelined.
Cardiff’s injury list looks remarkably clear, with only striker Andreas Cornelius (ankle) nursing a problem.
Key battle: Scott Parker vs Kim Bo-Kyung
Jol lauded his summer signing after Fulham’s cup win over Everton and, in fairness, it’s easy to see why. The former England man has impressed at the heart of Jol’s midfield ever since signing from Tottenham, emerging as Fulham’s top passer in each of his four appearances and, in three of those, was also the game’s top distributor (even against Arsenal).
A move to Craven Cottage was the new lease of life Parker’s career badly needed, and so far he’s grabbed it with both hands. This weekend he’ll be up against South Korea international Kim, the midfielder expected at the hub of Cardiff creativity. The 23-year-old hasn’t quite provided that yet, but the Bluebirds will be relying on him to unlock some of the Premier League’s tougher back-lines – especially when the points really do matter.
Parker was metronomic against West Brom and formed a key allegiance with marauding right-back Sascha Riether, while Kim created two chances for team-mates when confined to Hull’s half a fortnight ago. He’ll need to up his game to help Fraizer Campbell add to his two goals this season, though.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Cardiff 1-2 Fulham (LC, Aug 98)
- Fulham 2-1 Cardiff (LC, Aug 98)
- Fulham 1-4 Cardiff (Div 3, Jan 97)
- Cardiff 1-2 Fulham (Div 3, Nov 96)
- Cardiff 1-4 Fulham (Div 3, Mar 96)
It’s the first time these two managers have gone head-to-head.
Jol is a man under pressure. While the midweek cup win may have earned the Dutch gruffalo a brief respite, results need to start going his way quickly – after all, new owner Shahid Khan will want success sooner rather than later.
Mackay has started reasonably well in his first-ever Premier League campaign but knows only survival will do for the demanding Vincent Tan. Naturally, though, the club’s Malaysian owner has backed his manager every step of the way so far.
Facts and figures
- Fulham have taken only one point from their last six Premier League home games (L5 D1).
- No team has won more points from losing positions than Cardiff (4) this season in the Premier League.
- The last league meeting between Fulham and Cardiff came in the fourth tier in 1996/97.
- Peter Beardsley scored the opening goal for Fulham in their last home game against Cardiff; a 2-1 League Cup win over the Welsh side.
- Fulham have allowed their opponents to attempt 100 shots (including blocked shots) so far this season; a Premier League high.
- This is Fulham’s worst-ever run of results at home in the Premier League (over a six-game period).
- Only one away team has failed to score (Stoke in February 2013) in the last 17 Premier League games at Craven Cottage.
- Dimitar Berbatov has scored just two goals in his last 12 Premier League appearances, this after netting seven in his previous nine for Fulham in the competition.
- Two of the four Premier League games to see 15+ corners this season have involved Fulham.
- Cardiff’s match against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend saw a total of 14 corners.
- If he plays, Brede Hangeland will make his 200th Premier League appearance.
Cardiff’s cagey away performances hardly indicate an imminent goal glut, while Fulham should just about have the firepower to break them down. Just. 1-0.