West Brom v Fulham – Match Preview

There will be no room for sentiment when Roy Hodgson welcomes his former club Fulham to the Hawthorns with his West Brom side needing a win take them off the bottom of the Premier League.

Hodgson’s Baggies have begun the season terribly winning only one of their first five games and losing the remaining four. It’s their worst start to a top flight campaign and a win is imperative if they are to remove from themselves from the foot of the table. It will be the first time Hodgson has faced the club he guided so heroically to the Europa League final two years and is sure to get a rapturous reception from the travelling Fulham fans. Sorting out a leaky defence that has kept only one clean sheet in the last 20 matches at home will be the Albion boss’ main prerogative. Last week’s 3-0 away at Swansea highlighted the West Midlanders defensive frailties as they were torn apart by the incisive Swans. Luckily Hodgson will be able to call upon his inside knowledge on the likes of Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson and will set out his stall to combat Fulham side who could cause major problems for his back line. They may have to settle for a draw though with the fixture churning out 11 draws since the Cottagers won 3-1 in December 2000.

Martin Jol will also be hoping his side can take maximum points on Saturday and finally kick start his reign in West London. The Dutchman has failed to inspire confidence in Fulham fans after a series of drab displays from his side who find themselves in stuck in the relegation zone and looking likely to stay there unless they pick up. The deadline day signing of Bryan Ruiz has also failed to spark the Cottagers into life with the £10.6 million man struggling to adapt to English football. Last week’s game at Manchester City was certainly a tale of two halves as they went in 2-0 behind at half time only to produce a remarkable comeback to snatch a point. Jol will be looking for the same intensity and fighting spirit this week although he will need to be wary of fatigue after taking Chelsea to extra time in the midweek Carling Cup fixture.

Aaron Hughes could return for the home side after missing the last three matches with Andy Johnson also likely to play some part after recovering injury.

West Brom could be without record signing Shane Long who has a bug. Gabriel Tamas is still suspended so Craig Dawson will deputise once again.

Key Players

Peter Odemwingie – With goals proving to be in short supply at the Hawthorns it will be up to the Nigerian to start hitting the back of the net. He scored the winner away at Norwich last week and will be looking to notch again at  Fulhams expense.

Danny Murphy – The skipper was inspirational in the second half against Man City pushing his side to up their game. He eventually scored the equaliser and Jol will be looking for much of the same from his main man in midfield.

Verdict: 1-1

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