Monday, November 10, 2008

Fulham Best Newcastle at Craven Cottage

Jumping to 10th place on the table as a result of Sundas's 2-1 win over Newcastle, certainly looks good for the Whites in this season's campaign. Andy Johnson scored his third goal of the season and Captain Danny Murphy slotted home a penalty in the second half to give Fulham all three points.

Fulham are playing some quality football, passing the ball around, dominating possession for long stretches of the game and playing much better defensively. Last year's Fulham curse of conceding points in the final minutes of matches seems to be a thing of the past, which is certainly good news. Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes are looking solid in central defense, providing a stability that was lacking last year.

But the Cottagers have a new problem this year--finishing. No one is more guilty of the problem the off-season acquisition Zoltan Gera. Whether it is a combintation of bad play and bad luck, but the Hungarian international simply is not converting the chances he gets (and the beneficiary might just be Clint Dempsey--but more on Dempsey later). Early in the first half, Gera has two quality chances for goals. First, he beat two defenders in the air to get on the end of a Simon Davies cross, only to head the ball wide. A few minutes later, Gera saw a fairly open net, only to see his not particuarly strong header cleared off the line.

Gera has hit the post and cross bar a fair number of times this season and that is troubling. Andy Johnson as well, brought into score goals, took eight games to get on the score sheet and while he has three goals this season, the partnership between Johnson and Bobby Zamora doesn't seem to be gelling as they regularly looked out of sorts. Zamora is acting like a target striker, but Johnson doesn't seem to be reacting well to the big man's efforts.

Clint Dempsey came into the match in the 63rd minute and made a quick impact, making the pass that sprung Johnson in on goal which resulted in the penalty. Dempsey showed fine form in his 30 or so minutes and may be making a case himself over Gera. The two have the same number of goals in League Play (1), but Dempsey has gotten his with about 1/4 of the playing time of Gera. I wouldn't not be surprised (and I am hopeful) that Dempsey can get a start against Tottenham next week.

Tottenham hot their third result in as many games against Manchester City. Tottenham are riding of a fair amount of luck since Harry Redknapp was named manager so Fulham will need to play well next week.

After Tottenham, Fulham will travel to Anfield against Liverpool and Villa Park to face Aston Villa (a team that has dropped two games against Newcastle and Middlesbrough--games they should have won).

The league is incredilby tight thus far. Only three points separates Fulham at 10th (with a game in hand) and West Brom in 20th. Liverpool and Chelsea are six points clear of Arsenel for the top three spots and Man United has only one point over Aston Villa (who if they had won those last two games would be sitting third in teh table) and the team that just won't go away, Hull City who now sit sixth behind Aston Villa on goal difference.

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