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General Category => Archive => Daily Fulham Stuff => Topic started by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 07:57:41 AM

Title: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 07:57:41 AM
Fulham winger spurred on by Wolfsburg woes
Dejagah confident of avoiding the drop ahead of trip to Arsenal

Determined: Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah
Ashkan Dejagah will draw on his Wolfsburg woes in a bid to keep Fulham in the Premier League.

The Iranian winger was part of the Wolves side that escaped the drop in Germany’s Bundesliga by the skin of their teeth in 2011, with three wins from their final four games steering them to safety.

Dejagah faces another basement battle with the Cottagers this campaign after a poor first half of the season.

Rene Meulensteen’s men travel to league leaders Arsenal tomorrow just a point clear of the relegation places.

But Dejagah insists he has the stomach for another survival scrap.

He said: “It’s not a good situation for us at the moment. There are a lot of teams fighting against relegation. I was in the same situation once with Wolfsburg. It’s hard, but we managed to stay up.

“We have a good team and good players. If we all concentrate we can do it.”

No fear: Dejagah says the Cottagers won't go to the Emirates and shut-up shop
Fulham face an Arsenal side who have won four games on the spin to tighten their grip at the top.

But Dejagah says the Whites will take heart from their performance at the Emirates last season when they held the Gunners to a 3-3 draw.

“Arsenal are playing very good football this season,” he said. “It’s hard to play there but we drew last year so anything can happen in football.

“We have to fight and we’ll go there and stick together. It’s not easy to get points there - they have a chance to win the league this season.

“But we’re not going into it expecting to lose. We want to get something from the game.”

Brede Hangeland’s return to fitness will help boost a struggling Fulham defence that has conceded 46 goals in just 21 games – the most in the league.

And Dejagah says Hangeland’s comeback has given the whole club a massive lift.

He added: “Brede’s an important player for us. He has a lot of experience and we need him. He showed against Norwich what a good player he is. He’s a leader and we’re happy he is back.” (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 07:59:31 AM
Arsenal v Fulham

Arsenal have not beaten Fulham at The Emirates since 2010 but I just cannot see anything other than a Gunners win on Saturday.

Fulham beat Norwich in their FA Cup replay on Tuesday night but that was against an under-strength Canaries team and does not hide the Cottagers' own issues, particularly at the back.

They have been conceding a lot of goals recently. Brede Hangeland is back in the centre of the Fulham defence after injury and he will undoubtedly make a difference, but I am not sure that will happen straight away, and certainly not on Saturday.

Even teams who are well organised defensively going to The Emirates now might stop Arsenal scoring for a while, but they do not stop them winning.

Lawro's prediction: 3-0
Vic's prediction: 5-5 (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:00:51 AM
Is Fulham a banana skin waiting to happen?

It's typical that Fulham have their best win of the season just before they play against us.

We know from last season that they are capable of making life difficult.

The almost inevitable penalty miss by Mikel Arteta at the end was symptomatic of our season.

If you remember, we were 2-0 up and found ourselves losing with just over 20 minutes to go and to miss a gilt-edged opportunity to take the points felt as bad as a defeat.

Fulham have been dire this season, but to find their form and welcome back Brede Hangeland couldn't have come at a worse time for us.

The Premier League is tighter than a pair of extra small spandex trousers being worn by a sumo.

We all know how imperious City are at the moment and their squad looks so good that for them to NOT win the title would be something of a shock.

But, while in Spain and France, the most impressive squads always win, you only have to look at United's canter to the title last season with a squad that didn't exactly inspire to see how different things are over here.

Arsene Wenger said on Friday that we have to make sure we don't suffer any slip-ups against the lower-placed sides and our record this season against them has been decent.

We have to start beating the top sides to really keep our pursuit of the title going but on Saturday we have to ensure that Fulham's revival doesn't last more than one game.

It feels that we can't expect our rivals to drop any points at present - with Chelsea likely to beat United and City and Liverpool likely to beat Cardiff and Villa unless there is a shock.

We've never ever lost at home to Fulham, but we have drawn at home with them in the past two seasons.

I have this pessimistic feeling that the most likely side to buck the trend is us, so we have to make sure we don't repeat what we did on Monday and let sides back into games where we have been in absolute control.

The worry for now is that we keep losing players in every match.

The likely absence of Tomas Rosicky and Nacho Monreal further stretches a squad that is already struggling to cope - although cope it does - and the fact that we have Fulham and then Coventry could not come at a better time.

Whatever the rumours about Julian Drazler - and whether he will indeed be the next Ronaldo or turn into a Reyes/Nani clone, remains to be seen.

I've heard that Schalke need money and his stock has slumped this season, so selling now may suit all parties, but with Theo Walcott now out, we seriously need some pace and magic to help us break down the very toughest of defences.

With the exception of Serge Gnabry probably continuing instead of giving Lukas Podolski or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a game, I can't see who else may come in to mix things up.

I'd love the Pod to be given a game upfront but I suspect Wenger will want Giroud to keep playing and hopefully retain his goalscoring touch that had abandoned him before Villa.

I really hope this isn't going to turn into one of those games but with the defence playing as they have done, it gives us a great platform.

Am I sounding like George Graham?



Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs

Flamini Wilshere Cazorla

Gnabry Giroud Ozil (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:02:22 AM
Gillespie Guest Post: A view from The Cottage

Struggling Fulham travel to the Emirates on Saturday, desperate for points, and with the fresh enthusiasm of our new management team being called into question.

Fulham are only two points off the bottom of the Premier League table, and in the eight league games Rene Meulensteen has overseen, our goal difference tally has dropped by 15. It doesn’t sound great. But even so, most Fulham fans would probably admit they are rather enjoying Meulensteen being at the helm.

He greets the press after each game with the energy and enthusiasm typical of a new manager: drawing a surprising amount of positives following a 6-0 thrashing, or accidentally spilling too much information regarding Fulham’s transfer exploits. But perhaps that naivety is what you need at a club whose confidence could not get much lower. A fresh face who can walk into the dressing room after a drubbing from a mid-table team, and tell them that we are not going to let this dampen our spirits. He seems wet behind the ears compared to his predecessor. But then again he hasn’t faced the years of board meetings and fan abuse that inevitably result from poor performances. He seems like the over-excitable foreign exchange student who, despite not quite ‘getting it’, still turns up for school everyday with a large grin on his face.

Despite these public relations though, we are also being entertained ON the pitch. Whereas Jol was trying to mimic Arsenal by playing four CAMs, Meulensteen has taken us back to basics. He has brought an end to what was perhaps the laziest front four to have ever graced the Premier League (Ruiz, Berbatov, Taarabt, and Bent) and installed a solid base to midfield (Sidwell, Parker, Karagounis) with some pacey wingers (Kacaniklic and Dejagah). Meanwhile, Taarabt and Bent have been sent on personal fitness programmes, whilst Ruiz has been loaned to PSV. It is only Berbatov (for now) who remains, as our creative indulgence. Astute moves from the ex-Manchester United first team coach, and alleged mentor of Christiano Ronaldo.


So why are Fulham in such a tense position? Well firstly, because of the competition. At the time of writing, there have been five new managers re-appointed in the bottom half of the table. Another two look like they could be gone in a month. All squads seem to have responded impressively to fresh appointments, and all of these so called six-pointers have been impossible to predict. An audience of Gooners are unlikely to believe this, but some of this season’s most exciting football is coming from the other end of the table.

Secondly, the issue that is of greater concern: Fulham’s truly woeful defending. For all of the improvements going forward and pressing high, Fulham are so quickly undone by basic errors at set pieces, or the centre-halves being caught out from counter attacks. The number of times that Hughes, Senderos or Amorebieta have been in the wrong place, at the wrong time, is getting a bit silly. “Unfortunate” deflections my arse. The return of Hangeland this week was a relief, but it pains me that one of our other centre backs will still have to partner him. Joleon Lescott would be the perfect buy this January, but he doesn’t seem tempted. And who can blame him.

In fact, a centre-back, left-back, long term striker, and box-to-box midfielders are desperately needed. This might sound like I’m calling for a squad overhaul in January, but leaving it to the summer may be too late. New owner Shahid Khan, has thoughtfully twiddled his moustache and brought in Alan Curbishley as Technical Director, and Ray “I’m ‘ard” Wilkins as Assistant Manager. But otherwise, there has been no real evidence of him opening his wallet for some new players. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

So what can you expect at the Emirates this weekend? Well, probably a really good game from your point of view. I imagine we will give it everything going forward, and waste some good opportunities in the first 10 minutes, only for Ozil to punish us, as he effortlessly provides a through ball for someone that can’t believe they were not being marked. We have a knack of scoring after half time at the moment (good signs, Rene), but even when you play Arsenal with a tight defence and fit midfield, you eventually succumb to that pressure. An informed prediction might guess a 3-1 victory to Arsenal. But there’s no fun in that, so I’m going to say 2-2. Arsenal with many more attempts, but denied by a surprise return to form by the Fulham defence, whilst Parker initiates a quick Kacaniklic/Kasami counter attack. Berbatov coolly finishes, reminding Arsenal why you don’t need to run around in order to warrant a January bid from Arsene Wenger.

Hamish (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:04:56 AM
Arsenal v Fulham

By Steve Wilson
BBC Match of the Day commentator

Venue: Emirates Stadium Date: Saturday, 18 January


Arsenal midfielder Thomas Rosicky could play in a protective mask following surgery on the broken nose he suffered against Aston Villa on Monday.

Nacho Monreal should be available despite a twisted ligament in his foot.

Fulham pair Maarten Stekelenburg and Fernando Amorebieta are doubts with respective ankle and knee problems.

Captain Brede Hangeland will make his first league start since October after returning from back surgery in the midweek FA Cup win over Norwich.


Having notched four consecutive league victories since Christmas, Arsenal would seem to have little reason to fear a visit from Fulham.

After all, the Cottagers have never won a game at either Highbury or the Emirates. They have also conceded four goals to each of Everton, Manchester City and Sunderland and six to Hull in the space of the last month or so and have the fewest clean sheets and most goals conceded in the division.

So where can Fulham fans find a few vestiges of hope to cling to before they hop on the District Line?

Well, Fulham have drawn each of their last two games at Arsenal, and were leading in both. You may recall Mark Schwarzer's penalty save from Mikel Arteta last season which, with the last touch of the game, kept the score at 3-3 and left Arsene Wenger ashen-faced and agitated.

Fulham are also fresh from a morale-boosting FA Cup replay success over Norwich in which they scored three goals for the first time since October. Even better, their towering defensive alpha male, Brede Hangeland, was back in the team having spent almost three months on the sidelines nursing a bad back. I know how he feels.

Then there is Steve Sidwell. Who, Sidwell? Steve Sidwell? The special one haired midfielder who sits in front of the back four breaking up opposition attacks? The 'wasn't quite good enough to make it at Arsenal and Chelsea' Sidwell? The guy who is solid and reliable, but functional and never flashy?

Yep, that's the one. That's the same Steve Sidwell who has just scored in three successive appearances for the first time since he was a twinkle in Reading's midfield a decade ago.

Throw in the laconic Dimitar Berbatov, who tends to raise himself to face the big clubs, the industrious Clint Dempsey, the ever-ready Scott Parker and a few Arsenal injuries and you have the makings of a bit of Fulham optimism.

But only a bit.


Arsenal have never lost at home to Fulham in any competition spanning 110 years (W22, D5).

However, Fulham earned a Premier League draw at the Emirates Stadium on each of their last two visits.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their subsequent nine home league matches since an opening-day defeat by Aston Villa, dropping just four points and conceding only three goals.
They have the joint best defensive record in the division, conceding 19 goals in 21 matches and keeping nine clean sheets.
Arsenal's total of 48 points after 21 matches is their highest since 2007-08 (50 points). They finished in third place that season.
No team has scored the first goal in more Premier League games this season than Arsenal (16).
Olivier Giroud has scored the opening goal on a league-high six occasions this season.

Fulham have lost 14 of their first 21 top-flight matches in a season for the first time in their history.
They have conceded 46 league goals - 11 more than any other side in the division - and kept the fewest clean sheets (3).
The west London side have let in four goals or more in four of their last six league fixtures.
Steve Sidwell's goal against Sunderland last weekend was Fulham's seventh from a corner this season; a record matched only by Manchester City.
Darren Bent has scored seven goals in 11 Premier League appearances against Arsenal. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:06:07 AM
Do Fulham require Ravel?

This time last year, most Fulham fans would have bitten your hand off to even be linked to a player under the age of 28, let alone one on the cusp of the England set-up.

For what seems like years now we have been bemoaning our inability to find a replacement for the long departed Mousa Dembele in a creative midfield role but while the potential for Ravel Morrison to do exactly that is there, I find myself thinking that this really shouldn’t be the priority right now.

As it stands we have the worst defensive record in the league and are not exactly banging them in at the other end either. Anyone who was present for the travesty that was Sunderland at home last week will tell you that the only two players fit to wear the shirt that day were Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell. I understand that Morrison is probably better than our current options to play in front of those two but it’s not as if we don’t have an abundance of choice in that area already with the likes of Pajtim Kasami, Adel Taarabt, Clint Dempsey and Giorgos Karagounis to name but a few.

There is no doubt that we would benefit from more creativity but when you are over half-way through the season and Steve “He should be playing for England” Sidwell is your top goalscorer then clearly there are bigger issues afoot.

The fee being touted around the potential transfer is no small change, especially for a club as tight with their money as we are, and I have no hesitation in saying that the same money would be better spent elsewhere. In what has to be a first for a Premier League club, of the back four that started against Sunderland, only Sascha Reither at right-back commanded a fee when joining the club, while the rest were all free transfers. At the other end our forward options consist of a loanee, a 32-year-old who will most likely leave in the summer, Hugo Rodallega, and an unproven youngster. Am I the only one deeply concerned that we seem to be focusing our dealing in the one area of the pitch that we could get away without strengthening?

Clearly Meulensteen thinks highly of Ravel and no one can deny that he is a talented player. He does however bring a reputation along with him and his off the field antics are certainly not in keeping with the image of the Fulham I know. What is for sure is that anyone coming in to the club needs to be ready for a scrap and willing to put in the yards. Nani is another rumoured target that does not inspire me with confidence and again is only a slight improvement on what we have the moment.

Hopefully the coming weeks will see us focus on more pressing areas of the squad and plug some of the holes created by years of neglect in our transfer dealings. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:07:34 AM
Meulensteen stepping into unknown

Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen admits he has no idea what to expect from his team in Saturday's trip to Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal.

Rene Meulensteen: Playing a deck of cards

The Cottagers head across to north London on the back of their midweek 3-0 FA Cup third-round replay win over Norwich.

However, Fulham will need to produce a much-improved display from the one they gave last time in the league when Meulensteen's men were thumped 4-1 at home by fellow relegation-battlers Sunderland.

But he cannot guarantee what Fulham will be able to produce, accepting he is still learning about his team, who he compares to a new set of playing cards.

"And that is the situation you get when you are thrown in and taking over at a club," said Meulensteen, "because you are playing a deck of cards that is not yours."

The Dutchman has won four, drawn one and lost five of his 10 matches in charge since taking over from Martin Jol.

"You look at it and you try to play the best hand in different situations and that is what I have done - I made nine changes against Norwich," Meulensteen said.

"You are still trying to get to the situation where you say 'now I know which cards suit best'."

Meulensteen has been impressed by the Gunners' consistency as they continue to stay just ahead of Manchester City in the championship race.

"Arsenal have got a very good chance compared to the previous seasons, but Arsenal have got no secrets and they have had no secrets for the last eight years. They play as they play - they won't change. That is the way they are," said the former Manchester United coach.

"For many seasons they have picked up the accolade of being the team that plays the most beautiful football.

"You know what you are going to be up against - you are going to be up against a very good football team, some very good individuals, but there are no secrets."

Meulensteen believes this season's title race is set for an exciting conclusion.

"The reason why Arsenal are very confident at the moment is because they are up there, when in recent seasons they haven't been," he said.

"Arsenal are at the top, then City are at the top, then Chelsea - it is like a revolving door and they know every game is so important to make sure they stay up there.

"Only time will tell which teams will sustain that. That is why it is going to be one of the most fascinating ends to the season."

Meulensteen could retain Darren Bent in Fulham's starting XI after he scored against Norwich.

The former Sunderland and Tottenham forward, on loan from Aston Villa, has netted eight times in his previous 10 appearances against the Gunners.

Meulensteen said of the 29-year-old former England striker: "Darren has still got that in him. It is that little game you play with a deck of cards - when is it best to play him?

"There is a validity in it, because certain players do always score in certain places and against certain teams." (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:09:22 AM
Running out of steam

Much of this season has been about pointing fingers. Indeed, one of the reasons I started writing again was that an awful lot of the online discussion revolved around how bad our attackers were and how the likes of Dimitar Berbatov were leading us to relegation.   I argued at the time that a bigger problem was in our defence and devoted a fair bit of energy here to pointing that out. (I concede of course that our attack isn’t very good either but the defence felt like it ought to have been easier to fix).

Anyway, some more interesting things have been written on the internet this week.

 In one, Michael Cox notes that defending is very much a team discipline.  We knew this of course, but his points are as ever, persuasively put.  It’s one reason why I very much doubt that Brede Hangeland’s return is much more than a psychological boost: he was looking pretty iffy before he got injured, too (although maybe that’s because he was already injured. That could be it).

That’s not to say that defending isn’t important or shouldn’t be celebrated, however, though defending is fundamentally more of a collective task. Superb defending isn’t about outstanding individual contributions; it’s about teamwork, organisation and positional discipline.

You cannot solve the Premier League’s worst defence by introducing the world’s best defender — there would still be positional problems and disorganisation elsewhere in the back four. However, transplant Cristiano Ronaldo into the league’s worst attack and things would transform overnight. Ronaldo has the individual capacity to dominate games, create and score goals and to occupy multiple defenders thus creating space for others. His performance against Sweden, for example, was just remarkable — he completely dominated the game.

 The other is by the Guardian’s Sean Ingle and concerns the full-back position.  I’ve said it before but we used to sit in the Riverside by the Hammersmith End penalty box and would frequently look up to see a John Arne Riise run not being made.  The space was there, the opportunity was there, but John wasn’t.

The additional physical demands are clear from Prozone’s data. In 2003-04 Premier League full-backs made an average of 29.5 sprints – any movement greater than seven metres a second – over a game. This season that figure is exactly 50. A decade ago the average recovery time for a full-back between high-intensity activities – any movement greater than 5.5m/s, or a three-quarters speed run – was 56.4sec. Now it is 40.4sec.

As Prozone’s Omar Chaudhuri points out, no other position in the last 10 years can match full-backs’ percentage increase in high-intensity activities or sprints. “The increase in their physical demands has been above and beyond the increased demands of the Premier League as a whole,” he adds. “And full‑backs continue to cover more ground than any other position except wide midfielders.”

Anyway, given the points made in Sean’s article, you do wonder about the wisdom of fielding two 30+ full-backs.  True, Riether’s a good athlete, but even so.
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:11:00 AM
Is Fulham boss Meulensteen right to label Arsenal predictable?

The Cottagers manager feels his club's chances may be helped knowledge of Arsenal's playing style as they go in hunt of a first Premier League crown since 2004.

Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen believes playing against Arsenal will be a hard challenge, but not a match in which the home side hold secrets.

The Gunners, despite sitting atop the table, are considered third favourites behind Manchester City and Chelsea to secure a first top flight success since the 'Invincibles' season of 2003/2004.

Meulensteen and his Fulham side visit the Emirates Stadium this weekend and while the Dutchman believes Arsene Wenger's side are firmly in the mix, he feels their well-documented playing style could see them fall short.

"They have got a very good chance of winning the Premier League compared to previous seasons," Meulensteen told reporters. "But Arsenal have got no secrets, they have not had any secrets for the past eight years.

"They play as they play and they will not change. That is what they are. You know what you are going to be up against, which is a very good team with very good individuals.

"I have always had a lot of respect for Arsenal as a club and the way they play football. Arsene [Wenger] has been there for many years, that is why there is not too many secrets we are going to be coming up against."

While the former Manchester United first-team coach's observation rings true about the Gunners in previous seasons, their ability to hold onto leads and show a steelier defensive resolve has led many to look at Arsenal in a different light.

The vulnerability at the back which would almost certainly prove their downfall in the past appears just that, a thing of history, and no longer looks the slight on an otherwise impressive team.

Their goalscoring prowess may have taken a hit because of that, but that is exactly why the Gunners have proven to be the polar opposite of predictable this year, scoring a wider variety of goals - if not as many - with the presence of a physical spearhead in Olivier Giroud offering more options to the team. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:12:51 AM
Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen may start Darren Bent against Arsenal

Darren Bent: Fulham striker was on target against Norwich in the FA Cup

Darren Bent's record against Arsenal could save him from Rene Meulensteen's latest reshuffle on Saturday.

The Fulham manager admits he still getting to grips with his squad 10 games after succeeding Martin Jol.

Meulensteen struck gold when he restored Bent to the side against Norwich last week as the striker scored in a 3-0 win, and it is not lost on the Dutchman that Bent has eight goals in his last 10 games against Arsenal.

"Darren has still got that in him," he said. "It is that little game you play with a deck of cards - when is it best to play him?

"There is a validity in it, because certain players do always score in certain places and against certain teams.

"You look at it and you try to play the best hand in different situations and that is what I have done - I made nine changes against Norwich.

"You are still trying to get to the situation where you say 'now I know which cards suit best'."

Arsenal's form this season has impressed Meulensteen, but he goes to the Emirates confident he knows the leaders inside out.

He said: "Arsenal have got a very good chance compared to the previous seasons, but Arsenal have got no secrets and they have had no secrets for the last eight years.

"They play as they play - they won't change. That is the way they are." (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:14:24 AM
Fulham don't care for Arsenal's title-push, they go there to 'FIGHT'

Cottagers midfielder vows to go to title-challenging Arsenal and return to West London with points.

Fulham midfielder Ashkan Dejagah cares not for Arsenal's pursuit of Premier League honours, nor the precarious position at the summit of the division where the Gunners lead gap-closing Manchester City by a solitary point, as the 27-year-old - who debuted against Arsenal in the 3-3 draw last season - has vowed to once again take a result away from a meeting with one of the country's top teams.

Fulham's status in England's top tier is perilously close to the relegation zone as they, with a 19-point haul, are just one point clear of Cardiff City, in 18th place, and a brace of points above the foot of the table, as Crystal Palace have collected 17.

Arsene Wenger has oft spoken this year of his side's fighters, echoed by tenacious midfield terrier Mathieu Flamini, with boxing terminology often printed on the club's official website… now Fulham have responded in kind, with Dejagah quoted to have said on 'We go there and fight together.'

He continued: 'We stick together as a team. We know it’s a hard game, it’s not easy to take points there. Arsenal have a chance to win the league this season but we don’t want to lose there so we will try to take points and hopefully we can.

'We have a good team, we have good players and if every player concentrates on the pitch then we’re capable of playing good football, but we have to do this in every game. Arsenal have been playing very good football this season. It’s hard to play at the Emirates but we played last year there and it was 3-3 so anything can happen in football and we have to fight on Saturday.' (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:15:58 AM
Arsenal v Fulham: Tomas Rosicky could feature despite broken nose as Arsene Wenger welcomes back fit-again Aaron Ramsey

Rosicky had surgery on his nose after clashing with Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor while Ramsey should return to action having recovered from a thigh strain

Tomas Rosicky has undergone surgery on the broken nose he suffered during Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Aston Villa on Monday night, but he could still feature in Saturday’s Premier League encounter with Fulham. The Czech Republic captain has been fitted for a protective mask that would enable him to play a part in the match, although whether Wenger would choose to start the 33-year-old is unknown as he has shown a preference to rotate his midfield this season.

Rosicky caught a stray elbow from Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor when the pair contested a header, but Wenger has confirmed that he could play a part when London rivals Fulham make the short trip to the Emirates.

“Rosicky had surgery with a general anaesthetic for a broken nose in two places,” revealed Wenger. “With a mask he may be available but we have to monitor it closely.”

Rosicky wouldn’t be the first to wear a protective mask in the Premier League, with Chelsea strike-duo Fernando Torres and Demba Ba taking the same precautionary action after suffering similar injuries.

Wenger did confirm that they are likely to be without left-back Nacho Monreal this weekend. Despite initial fears that he had broken a metatarsal proving false, he has suffered a twisted ligament in his foot that is likely to keep him sidelined for a short time.

“Monreal looks a doubt for Saturday, a big doubt, because he twisted his foot in the kick,” Wenger continued. “It is not the bruise, he turned and twisted the ligament.”

Wenger can call upon the services of Kieran Gibbs though, as the Englishman made his return to action from a minor calf injury in the Villa victory. The 24-year-old is likely to return to the starting line-up in the Spaniard’s absence, having been Wenger’s preferred choice throughout the season so far.

The Gunners will also have Aaron Ramsey back after he missed nearly a month of action due to a calf injury he picked up in the Boxing Day triumph over West Ham. Ramsey has been in tremendous form this season, leading the club’s scoring charts after netting 13 times in all competitions – with eight of those coming in the league.

The Welshman’s return will be a timely boost for Wenger as he is unlikely to be able to call on the services of vice-captain Mikel Arteta, with the Spaniard struggling with a calf injury that forced him to miss the trip to Villa.

However, his manager stressed that he will show caution in selecting Ramsey in order not to overexert the midfielder, meaning he could be named on the bench rather than be thrown stright into the starting line-up. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:17:19 AM
Premier League: Ashkan Dejagah believes Fulham can avoid relegation

Ashkan Dejagah: The winger believes Fulham are good enough to stay up

Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah believes that his side have the quality needed to beat the drop this season.

The Cottagers sit just one point above the relegation zone and have had mixed fortunes since Rene Meulensteen replaced Martin Jol, winning three of their last eight Premier League following his arrival.

Dejagah successfully avoided relegation at Bundesliga side Wolfsburg three years ago, and he is now hoping to draw on that experience.

"It's not a good situation for us at the moment," he told the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle.

"There are a lot of teams fighting against relegation. I was in the same situation once with Wolfsburg. It's hard, but we managed to stay up.

"We have a good team and good players. If we all concentrate we can do it."

Meulensteen's side travel to league leaders Arsenal, a game in which Dejagah believes must be approached with a positive outlook.

"Arsenal are playing very good football this season," he said.

"It's hard to play there but we drew last year so anything can happen in football.

"We have to fight and we'll go there and stick together. It's not easy to get points there - they have a chance to win the league this season.

"But we're not going into it expecting to lose. We want to get something from the game." (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:18:16 AM
Birmingham City’s ‘good guys’ praised for role in developing Whites defender

Birmingham City boss Lee Clark has been praised by Fulham’s head coach Rene Meulensteen for his work with Dan Burn.

The 21-year-old defender enjoyed a successful loan spell at the Championship club and they were hopeful that he would be allowed to return.

But after Burn impressed against Norwich in the FA Cup, Meulensteen has decided to keep him at Craven Cottage.

And he said: “I have to give credit to Lee Clark and Steve Watson at Birmingham for what they’ve done for him. It’s what you want loans to be.

“They are good guys there. I know them really well and they keep me in the loop.

“Dan has done very well. He has matured a lot. He has impressed me since he came back as we’ve had more access to him, seeing him train.

“He did extremely well against Norwich and it shows his loan at Birmingham has worked.” (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:20:30 AM
Arsenal v Fulham: match preview
Read a full match preview of the Premier League game between Arsenal and Fulham at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday Jan 18, 2014, kick-off 15.00 (GMT)

target man: Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov faces Arsenal but could be a January transfer window target for Arsene Wenger

Saturday, January 18, 2014
Arsenal v Fulham
Emirates Stadium
Kick-off: 15.00 GMT.
TV: Highlights, BBC ONE Match of the Day.

Arsenal (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Kosclieny, Gibbs; Flamini, Wilshere; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Cazorla; Giroud.
Out: Arteta (calf), Bendtner (ankle), Diaby (knee), Ramsey (thigh), Sanogo (back), Vermaelen, Walcott (both knee).
Tests: Monreal (foot), Rosicky (broken nose).

Fulham (Possible, 4-4-1-1): Stockdale; Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Parker, Sidwell, Dempsey; Taarabt; Berbatov.
Out: Briggs (hernia), Etheridge (thigh).
Test: Stekelenburg (ankle).

Referee: Lee Probert. Matches: 10, R2 Y13.

Betting: Home 2-9, Away 12-1, Draw 5-1.

Team News
Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky is set to play in a protective face mask against Fulham following surgery on a broken nose, but full-back Nacho Monreal (foot) is doubtful.

Midfielders Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey are still out, along with captain Thomas Vermaelen.

Forward Nicklas Bendtner is closing in on a return, while Yaya Sanogo continues his rehabiliation. Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott are long-term absentees with their respective knee injuries.

Meanwhile, Fulham defender Fernando Amorebieta is a doubt because of a knee problem.

Captain Brede Hangeland could make his first league start since October after returning from back surgery in the midweek FA Cup third-round replay win over Norwich.

Forward Darren Bent is pressing for a start after scoring against the Canaries, when manager Rene Meulensteen had made sweeping changes.

Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg remains a doubt.

Match Notes
Arsenal will have to overcome injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen if they are to remain Premier League leaders with victory against relegation-threatened Fulham.

They hardly want for confidence after four league wins in succession, while Rene Meulensteen's team find themselves in a tailspin, just one point above the bottom three.

Their solitary comfort is that their two most recent visits to the Emirates have ended in draws

Stat of the game: Fulham have never won at Arsenal, in 27 league and cup attempts.

Oliver Brown's prediction: Arsenal 2 Fulham 0. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:21:32 AM
Arsenal primed for four-star thrashing of struggling Fulham
The Cottagers have conceded a quartet of strikes in five of their last 15 games

Few football watchers will be expecting anything but an Arsenal win at home to Fulham, with the Gunners priced up as skinny 2/9 favourites.

The west Londoners have never won away to the Gunners and have lost all of their matches against the current Premier League top ten so far this season, which suggests this clash is the home banker of the weekend.

Arsene Wenger’s side made sure the bookies suffered a bloodied nose with their 2-1 win against Aston Villa, as they became the seventh top-seven side to win during gameweek 21, but that narrow scoreline masked Arsenal’s true dominance in the Midlands.

Wenger’s charges helped themselves to 64 per cent of possession against Paul Lambert’s Villans, who didn’t manage a shot on target until after the break, by which time they were two goals down to the cruising visitors.

Arsenal eased off in the second-half, with a pair of substitutions disrupting their flow before Christian Benteke’s 76th-minute consolation, but they’ll be focused to the final minute back in front of their own fans.

Fulham have conceded four or more goals in a match on six separate occasions since the end of October, with Arsenal’s top-four rivals Liverpool, Everton and Manchester City each putting exactly that amount past the Cottagers during the last two months of 2013.

Even relegation-threatened Sunderland – who travelled to Craven Cottage as the joint-lowest away scorers in the league – slammed four past Rene Meulensteen’s men last time out in the league and Arsenal are taken to go one better than in their 3-1 stroll in west London earlier this season by bagging four or more in this fixture at 11/5.

Olivier Giroud returned to action in rude health at Villa Park, having missed the Gunners’ previous pair of outings through illness, and struck his side’s second goal a minute after Jack Wilshere had slid in for the opener.

The French international looks a likely candidate at 5/2 to break the deadlock in a Premier League match for the sixth time this season, with fellow forwards Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo still out injured.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:23:12 AM
Fulham target told to let his football do talking

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has told Ravel Morrison to let his football do the talking after Fulham claimed he wanted to move to them.

Fulham have had one bid turned down for the talented England Under-21 international who believes he is due a big pay day after breaking into the Hammers first-team on a regular basis this season. West Ham have still yet to make Morrison the firm offer of a new contract or a pay rise to his £15,000-a-week wages, which put him among the lowest earners in the first-team squad. Morrison is fit again and available to return but Allardyce has warned the midfielder that he needs to do his talking on the pitch now.

The West Ham boss told ( "Ravel Morrison has been in the news again this week, particularly following [Fulham boss] Rene Meulensteen's comments. "I am unable to talk specifically about Rene's remarks because they are subject to a Premier League investigation but I can speak about the player in general. "From our point of view, it's about making sure that, when selected, Ravel returns to the sort of form we saw from him earlier on this season. "He has had a few niggling problems with his groin in recent weeks and that has caused a dip in his performances.

"He will get his opportunity again and is in the squad for tomorrow's game against Newcastle but when that chance comes, he has to grasp it the same as all the players here. "In the position we're in, no player can be guaranteed his place in the team unless he's playing his best.

The Hammers boss believes there has been far greater media attention on Morrison than his career and experience warrants and far more than other young, talented players like Southampton's Luke Shaw have had to endure.

"Ravel is certainly a budding talent but not proven as yet," added Allardyce. "His contract situation, which is under negotiation like with any other player, has only added fuel to the fire."

Read more at: (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:24:33 AM
Fulham transfer round up: Berbatov not joining Arsenal, Dembele could return plus a different Paulinho?


Bulgarian maverick could stay put, ex-Cottager may be on his way back plus a Brazilian striker could arrive on loan.

Dimitar Berbatov’s much-touted move to Arsenal appears to be off after Arsene Wenger made a bid seem unlikely, according to London 24.

The veteran striker has been tipped to fire the Gunners to title glory but Wenger said: “Do I rate Berbatov as player? Highly. Have we made any approach to sign Berbatov? No.

“I don’t think [we would look to sign Berbatov] because we have [Nicklas] Bendtner who is coming back, we have Yaya Sanogo who is making very good progress in training.

“Of course we have lost Theo Walcott and that for us was a big blow. Hopefully we can compensate, but we have not made any approach [for Berbatov].”

This will come as a huge boost to Rene Meulensteen who will be banking on the Bulgarian’s goals to ensure Fulham can stay in the Premier League.

Mousa Dembele could make a surprise return to Craven Cottage after a year and a half at Tottenham Hotspur, according to Ladbrokes News.

The Belgian midfield maestro cost Spurs £15m but has struggled to hold down a first team place.

With manager Tim Sherwood preferring to play only two central midfielders and the emergence of youngster Nabil Bentaleb, Dembele could be forced out of the door at White Hart Lane.

The 26-year-old would represent a huge coup if Meulensteen could convince him to return.

Dembele’s fellow Spurs midfielder Paulinho won’t be following him, but somebody with the same name could be making an appearance in the white of Fulham soon, according to Tutto Mercato.

The Italian website reports that Livorno striker Paulinho, 28, is a target for Meulensteen.

Fulham have approached the Serie A strugglers about a possible loan bid for the Brazilian who has 48 goals in 130 games for the club since joining in 2005.

He has previously impressed out on loan at Grosseto and Sorrento.

Cottagers target Ravel Morrison has attempted to distance himself from the speculation surrounding his possible move, according to the BBC.

The midfielder said: “I always try to keep my focus on the next game and show people with my performances that I want to do well for West Ham United.

“I've been working really hard over the past few weeks to get back to full fitness after missing a couple of recent games with a groin injury.

"I'm feeling fine now and I'm hoping to be involved in Saturday's important game with Newcastle and then the Capital One Cup semi-final with Manchester City on Tuesday."

Fulham are still waiting to hear from the Premier League about any possible punishment following West Ham’s complaints after Meulensteen claimed Morrison wanted to move to Craven Cottage.

Meanwhile, the Daily Express have reported that Meulensteen is also trying to lure Mohamed Diame from Upton Park.

The bid which the Fulham manager said was “knocked back” was reported to be a £7.5m offer for both midfielders, something which West Ham were clearly reluctant to accept.

It would be a major shock if Sam Allardyce’s team agreed to let two regular first-team players depart for their relegation battle rivals.

Fulham have also been knocked back in their approach to Leicester City for Liam Moore, according to the BBC .

The 20-year-old centre-back has featured in 22 of the Foxes’ 25 league games this season and is extremely highly rated by the Midlands club.

Elsewhere Bryan Ruiz completed his loan move to PSV Eindhoven for the rest of the season according to the Mirror.

The 28-year-old Costa Rica captain had struggled to impress this season and Meulensteen decided it was for his own good that he goes somewhere to play regularly ahead of the World Cup.

Finally, Fulham have missed out on target Ryan Bertrand, who completed a loan move to Aston Villa from Chelsea, according to Sky Sports.

image: © nicksarebi (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:25:48 AM
Transfer news: Fulham offer extension to Muamer Tankovic as interest grows

Fulham have offered a contract extension to Swedish attacking midfielder Muamer Tankovic as the 18-year-old generates interest across Europe.

Tankovic moved to Craven Cottage from Swedish club IFK Norrkoping in the summer of 2013 and made his first-team debut in Fulham's 3-0 FA Cup replay victory over Norwich on Tuesday.

The highly-sought after forward came on to replace compatriot Alexander Kacaniklic three minutes from time and Fulham are now keen to fight off European clubs.

With only six months left on his present contract, Tankovic's agent, Fabio Alho, claims several clubs have registered interest, with Premier League rivals Arsenal and Tottenham said to be preparing a move for the talented playmaker.

Despite all the speculation, Alho insists Fulham are eager to secure Tankovic's services and have offered him an extension.

"Fulham are very pleased with Tankovic and consider him to be a big prospect for the future," Alho told Sportbladet.

"They certainly want to keep him. We will meet them and negotiate."

Although media reports continue to link Tankovic with a move away from Fulham, Alho refused to confirm which clubs have made contact.

"I do not want to talk about that, but it does not sound impossible," he said. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:27:18 AM
Three targets who Fulham should spend their Ravel Morrison war chest on
This talented trio would be of greater benefit to the Cottagers’ team than the West Ham man.

Fulham have recently risked the wrath of Sam Allardyce by going public about their £10m bid for Ravel Morrison.

Such a frittering of cash would be unwise for a club in the Cottagers’ – evens to be relegated from the Premier League this season – position, with the player well short of the required level to carry an endangered side to safety by himself.

Much more than one arrival is required, so blowing a chunk, if not all, of the transfer kitty on one man is too risky.

Instead, we’ve sounded out three men that would improve every aspect of their side that, collectively, would likely cost less than the fortune they’re prepared to pay for Morrison.

Martin Kelly
The Liverpool youngster has had his progression curtailed by a knee injury last term, but made his return to the first-team fold in the recent FA Cup win over Oldham.

In the 16 Premier League games that Kelly has started, the Reds recorded seven clean sheets.

He boasts an excellent positional sense to compensate for a lack of pace and his commitment is exactly what the club require in their fight for survival.

A loan move would benefit both the player and his club.

Robert Snodgrass
The Scottish winger can provide the much-needed midfield vibrancy and creativity that Rene Meulensteen hoped his top target would add.

Averaging 38 passes per game, he’s got an eye for fashioning chances, and the 2.6 key balls he plays each time he takes to the field is double the number of Fulham’s leading orchestrator, the outbound Bryan Ruiz.

Demba Ba
Widely tipped to depart neighbours Chelsea this winter, the Senegalese hitman is well worth Shahid Khan getting his wallet out for.

The 28-year-old thrives as the big fish in an under-sized pond and pairing him with Dimitar Berbatov could be the tonic to cure the club’s goalscoring woes.

Fulham to be relegated @ Evens

- See more at:,50970.html?#sthash.Ba6OLbeX.dpuf (,50970.html?#sthash.Ba6OLbeX.dpuf)
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:28:23 AM
American Exports: Clint Dempsey leads Fulham into battle vs. league leaders Arsenal

AMSTERDAM – Premier League action dominates the weekend slate of European games involving Americans, with Clint Dempsey continuing his quest for a first career goal against league leaders Arsenal.

All times listed in ET.


Jozy Altidore – Sunderland vs. Southampton (Saturday, 7:45 am on NBCSN)

The US striker is vying for the start as Sunderland aim to climb out of the drop zone for the first time since August. Altidore set up both goals as the Black Cats knocked Southampton out of the League Cup in November. The Saints usually are a tough task at the Stadium of Light, where they are unbeaten in the last five league clashes.

Clint Dempsey – Fulham at Arsenal (Saturday, 10 am on MBCSN/Mun2)

Dempsey is hoping his 13th appearance against the Gunners goes better than others have in the past. He's never scored against Arsenal -- the Gunners are actually one of the few EPL teams yet to suffer one of his strikes -- and he has celebrated only two wins against them to date. The Cottagers have dropped five of their last six league games on the road and they have never won at Arsenal. But despite losing 22 of 27 there, Fulham have posted consecutive draws at the Emirates. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:31:34 AM
Fulham boss Meulensteen wants to raid former club United for young winger Cole

Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen wants to raid former club Manchester United for young winger Larnell Cole.

Meulensteen, who left Old Trafford with Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer, has identified the 20-year-old attacker as a player who can aid his side's attempts to stay in the Barclays Premier League.

The Cottagers boss knows all about Cole having worked with the youngster at United.

Incoming? Rene Meulensteen wants to be reunited with Manchester United's Larnell Cole (left)
Limited: Cole has played just once for United's senior side, in the League Cup against Leeds United in 2011

Cole built his reputation in United's youth teams, where he impressed alongside another Fulham target, West Ham's Ravel Morrison.

Clint Dempsey has already returned to the club on loan, while club record signing Bryan Ruiz has been loaned out to PSV Eindhoven.

Busy man: Fulham manager Meulensteen needs to strengthen his squad to fight relegation
(  (
One in, one out: Fulham have loaned in Clint Dempsey, and loaned out Bryan Ruiz (right) to PSV

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Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:33:09 AM
Transfer news: PSV Eindhoven defender Stanislav Manolev released

Stanislav Manolev: Has been released by PSV Eindhoven

PSV Eindhoven have announced right-back Stanislav Manolev's contract has been terminated by mutual consent.

The 28-year-old has fallen out of favour at the Philips Stadion over the past 18 months and spent the end of last season on loan with Premier League side Fulham.

Following his loan spell at Craven Cottage, Manolev was left with Jong PSV, the Dutch club's reserve side, where he made 10 appearances in the Jupiler League.

Manolev's discipline had been called into question during the 2011/12 Eredivisie season, with him picking up four suspensions throughout the campaign.

The 35-cap Bulgaria international has now returned to his native homeland to train with former club Litex Lovech.

"We would like to thank Stanislav Manolev for his hard work and dedication," PSV technical director Marcel Brands told the club's official website.

"He has always been a true professional during five up-and-down seasons with the club and has always got on well with his team mates. We wish him the best of luck for his future career."

Despite being released by PSV, Manolev remains keen to feature in one of the top European leagues. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:34:30 AM
Fulham and Chievo seek Mesbah


Fulham and Chievo have reportedly made offers for Parma left-back Djamel Mesbah.

According to Sport Mediaset pundit Alfredo Pedullà, the Algeria international is looking for more playing time.

He managed only three Serie A appearances for Parma this season – scoring one goal – and one Coppa Italia match.

The 29-year-old is wanted by Chievo, who have offered winger Marcelo Estigarribia in exchange.

However, it’s believed Parma prefer the Fulham proposal of cash only without a player as part of the deal.

Mesbah has been at Parma since January 2013, having previously played at Milan, Lecce, Avellino, Basel and Lorient. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:36:33 AM
Fulham and Saints join striker pursuit


Fulham and Southampton are ready to battle it out with West Bromwich Albion for Blackburn Rovers hitman Jordan Rhodes, who has scored 16 goals for the Championship side this term.

The Scot, who sat out the midweek 5-0 defeat at Manchester City in the FA Cup third round replay with a muscle injury, is viewed as one of the best players outside the top flight.

However, he could soon be given the opportunity to prove himself at the highest level, with West Brom, struggling Fulham and crisis-hit Saints ready to pounce.

Baggies head coach Pepe Mel requires attacking reinforcements following Shane Long’s switch to Hull City.

The Cottagers, fighting to avoid the relegation trapdoor, plan to make several acquisitions this month and require more firepower, particularly if former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov departs.

Southampton, still reeling from the resignation of chairman Nicola Cortese, may sell Dani Osvaldo to Inter Milan and see Rhodes as the ideal replacement.

Blackburn are likely to hold out for at least £9million for talisman Rhodes. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:38:55 AM
Scott Parker reckons Fulham's 30-somethings can do a number on leaders Arsenal

Relegation-threatened Cottagers have the league's oldest team but their England midfielder says that experience can help at the Emirates - and on the run-in

Scott Parker reckons Rene Meulensteen’s 30-somethings have the ­experience to keep Fulham in the Premier League.

Parker, 33, says having so many veterans in the Cottagers’ squad should be seen as a strength rather than a weakness in their battle against the drop.

Struggling Fulham go to Arsenal this weekend still searching for consistency and results on the back of an ­unpredictable season, which has seen major managerial upheaval.

Their ageing squad includes Steve Sidwell, Damien Duff, Dimitar Berbatov, Brede Hangeland, John Arne Riise and more, who are all in the veteran stage of their careers.

But Parker believes it can only help in going to tough places like Arsenal as they all know what it takes to survive and can handle the ­pressure.

The Fulham midfielder said: “We are an older squad, but there is experience there and we have an understanding.

“I hear what people are saying, but, if you look at the stats and data, I don’t think there have been many games in which we have under-performed.

“Age is not a limit, it can only help. When you have been in ­difficult situations before, you have an understanding of what needs to be done. That can only help us.

“There are some senior players here, big characters, like Duff, ­Hangeland and Berbatov – they all have vast experience and have played at top clubs. It’s a positive.

“We also have some youngsters in the squad. I see it as a balance and, hopefully, that experience can help us move on.”

Parker is still bemused as to why Fulham – thrashed at home by Sunderland last weekend, victorious over Norwich in the FA Cup three days later – lack consistency.

It cost Martin Jol his job, but new boss Meulensteen is now being helped by Parker’s former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley and another new arrival, ex-Chelsea coach Ray Wilkins.

Parker believes Curbishley – one of the biggest influences and mentors in his career – can also provide much-needed experience after his long absence from ­management.

He said: “What Curbs will bring is that he has been in this situation before with West Ham – he will bring experience and know-how. I’m sure he will be a sounding board for the manager.

“Rene is very hands-on as a coach. He takes a lot of sessions, has a lot of input. He drills players in terms of what he wants. He is very confident. His experiences at Manchester United have brought him that ­confidence.

“He goes into games, preparing to win them. I am sure that is a bit different here and there are certain things that will have to change.

“The lads have taken to him really well. I think you have seen that from some of the performances since he has been here. But we still need to find that consistency. It’s the ­inconsistency which is why we are where we are.”

Parker is relishing the trip to ­high-flying Arsenal after a few feisty London derbies in his days at Spurs and West Ham.

He added: “Arsenal have been fantastic. I have always been an admirer of how they play. The criticism is that they have not won any trophies, but this year they seem to have turned a page.

“We are under no ­illusions how difficult it will be. We are going there to give them a good, hard game and upset them. Arsenal, Manchester United or Chelsea, you have to be 100 per cent. If you are, you may have a chance of an upset.”

Scott Parker appears in EA SPORTS FIFA 14, available to buy now on Xbox One, PS4 and all other formats from Start your Ultimate Team today at

Average age of Premier League starting XIs this season

Club   Average age
Fulham   29 years, 303 days
West Brom   29 years, 22 days
West Ham   28 years, 343 days
Crystal Palace   28 years, 249 days
Everton   28 years, 101 days
Chelsea   28 years, 72 days
Manchester City   27 years, 280 days
Stoke   27 years, 211 days
Hull   27 years, 210 days
Manchester United   27 years, 32 days
Sunderland   27 years, 18 days
Newcastle   26 years, 360 days
Swansea   26 years, 257 days
Arsenal   26 years, 214 days
Norwich   26 years, 181 days
Liverpool   26 years, 57 days
Cardiff   26 years, 56 days
Tottenham   25 years, 280 days
Southampton   25 years, 112 days
Aston Villa   24 years, 296 days

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Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:40:28 AM
Fulham's Brede Hangeland ''like a new signing'' after returning from three month injury lay-off

Manager Meulensteen thrilled to have Norwegian's calming influence in back four that has allowed a Premier League-worst 46 goals before Arsenal trip

Dip your Bred: Fulham have Hangeland fit to face Arsenal after sciatic nerve problem

Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen says skipper Brede Hangeland’s return to action is like having a new signing.

The Cottagers' towering Norwegian defender is back in the fold following three months out with a sciatic nerve problem in his leg, having come through their midweek FA Cup win over Norwich unscathed.

His comeback provides a timely boost to a side that has leaked 46 goals in this season's 21 games – the most in the Premier League by 11, ahead of the 35 Norwich and Stoke have allowed - to leave them facing a relegation battle.

Hangeland is now poised to start on Saturday against Arsenal - who were interested in signing the centre-half before he committed his future to Fulham, in 2012.

Meulensteen said: “It was very good to see him back. It’s been a big boost for us and for him. He’s been very important over the years for Fulham.

“He’s an experienced central defender who’s calm on the ball and capable of playing out of the back and feeding the ball to the midfield. His calmness transfers to the rest of the players. He’s an attacking threat in the opposition box as well with set plays and corners.

“It really is like having a new signing, because as long as I’ve been at the club I’ve had no access to him.

“We know our defensive record needs improving and that’s why we very clearly set out to keep a clean sheet against Norwich. We need to find the right balance. We’ve shown we can attack, now we need to show we can be good defenders and hard to break down as well.”

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Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:43:13 AM
Scott Parker Q&A
'Don't call us Dad's Army' - veteran midfielder Scott Parker sees experience as a positive as Rene Meulensteen's Fulham battle against relegation ahead of Saturday's important London derby at Premier League table-toppers Arsenal…

When battling against Premier League relegation, the last thing any team would want would be to visit the table toppers. That, though, is the task which faces Fulham this weekend as they prepare to take on Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

Ahead of Saturday afternoon's important London derby, Fulham's Scott Parker spoke to the national media - with Sky Sports granted access to the interview with the former Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder.

Here, 33-year-old Parker discusses Fulham's inconsistent season, the arrival of new head coach Rene Meulensteen, a reunion with Alan Curbishley, a Dad's Army tag, the challenge of facing Arsenal, and the battle to avoid the drop.

It has been a mixed couple of weeks for Fulham. How have you found things?

"It has been a mixed bag. We went into the Christmas period and seeing those four games as very important. We picked up six points out of the four. In an ideal world, we would have probably wanted a little bit more. But it was not to be and we fight on. There are a couple of tough fixtures coming up but we got a good win in the week against Norwich City. When you win games, it breeds confidence. At the moment, our inconsistency is letting us down a little bit. In this league, when you are down there, if you can go and get a couple of back-to-back wins it is massive. You can separate a little bit and get a bit of breathing space and the pressure is not on which makes it a bit easier."

Is it difficult to understand Fulham's inconsistency?

"It is very up and down. That is the reason why we are where we are. When you are down in the league where we are, confidence plays a massive part in it and certainly you could say that is a big factor with us. The minute we get a good result, confidence starts rising. If you get a bad result, you are back down there. So I think we all have to try and stay as level as we can and grind out results. We either seem to win or lose. I cannot remember many draws that we have had this year. We have got to be hard to beat and pick up some points."

How are all the new coaches settling in at Fulham?

"Very well. Rene has come in and brought his ideas and has done very well along with [technical director] Alan Curbishley and [assistant head coach] Ray Wilkins. They have come in and all brought different parts. There is vast experience between them all and so it helps massively. As a team, we seem to have picked up a little bit and we are playing a bit more dynamic. I am sure Rene is looking at it and has an understanding of what needs to be done. I am sure over the course of time he will address it as much as he can."

Talk us through Alan Curbishley's appointment. Did you have contact with your former Charlton and West Ham boss before he took up the position?

"No, I had not spoken to Crubs for a long time. Honestly, I did not have a clue. I found out the evening it was announced. Curbs has been in this position before with West Ham so I suppose the people at the club have looked at that and he will bring experience and hopefully a bit of knowhow of what needs to be done and what the players need to do to get us out of it [a relegation battle]. He will also be a sounding board for the manager. The manager is probably new to it so he can bounce ideas off Curbs."

Were you surprised Alan Curbishley was out of the game for so long?

"I probably was. I do not know whether that was Alan's choice or not. He enjoys the media side of it, I think, and got into that. When he left West Ham, it was on difficult terms so I was quite surprised. He brought me up at Charlton and then he took me to West Ham, where he did a fantastic job."

What is Rene like? Is he interesting and different to work with on the training pitch?

"He is very hands on as a coach. He takes a lot of the session and drills into the players how he wants us to play. He is very confident. His experiences at Manchester United have brought him that success. He has a mentality where he has been at a club where, the majority of time, they are going into games preparing to win. I am sure that is a little bit different here and I am sure there are certain things he is going to have to change, like any man has to when they leave a club. The lads have taken to him really well. You can see that in some of our performances."

Do you feel you have enough in the squad to push on and get the results to move up the table again?

"Definitely. I have no doubt this is a very good squad. The Premier League is tough but you look at that table and there are a whole bunch of teams who are in it [a relegation battle] so there is still a way to go. I certainly think there is enough experience, knowhow and quality in this squad to get out of it."

The Fulham squad has been criticised this season for being a bit old. What do you say to that?

"I cannot really argue against it, I suppose. We are an older squad. But you can reverse that and talk about the experience. Playing the years that all of us have played, we have an understanding now. If you look at the stats and the data, there have not been many as a team when we have been outperformed by the opposition. I do not think age is an issue but I understand people might suggest that."

Do you feel it is a strength that you have been in a battle against relegation before in your career when you were at West Ham?

"I think that can only help. When you have been in a situation before, you have an understanding of what has to be done. Along with that, we do have some youngsters in the squad who have done very well. I see it as a balance. Hopefully the experience in the squad can help us move on."

The battle to avoid relegation is going to be very close this season. There could be three clubs from about 11 who could go down. What do you make of it?

"I looked at last weekend's game against Sunderland and if we had won that we would have been on 22 points and sitting in 11th place in the league. That is how tight it is this year."

What do you think of Arsenal this season? How surprised are you that they have become so consistent?

"They have been fantastic. I have always been a big admirer of the way they play. Over the last few years, the one criticism which has been put at them is that they have not won any trophies and have been a bit inconsistent. Certainly, this year, they seem to have turned a page in that sense, really. They have got a fantastic team with unbelievable individual talent but, not only that, this year they have shown a real defensive side to their game. Now they have got that, they are looking like a team who are well worthy of winning the Premier League."

You have had some good games at the Emirates in the past. Is it a ground which you enjoy visiting?

"Obviously I have been at some London clubs so there has been the derby rivalries - and none more so than Spurs. I do not really know my record there but the Emirates is a difficult place to go. We are all under no illusions about how difficult it will be at the weekend, with Arsenal flying and doing so well and their abundance of talent, but we are going there to give them a hard game."

Arsenal's attacking midfield could be argued as being the strongest in the league. How will you approach that challenge?

"The strongest part of their team is probably their midfield. We will prepare as much as we can and watch videos. We have all played against Arsenal and see them enough on TV to understand their qualities and understand what they do. I think the reality is that we can dress it up as much as we want but we have to be out there and it is a day when we will all have to be 9/10. If not, it is going to be a tough game."

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Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:44:48 AM
Rene Meulensteen turns to Sir Alex Ferguson in an attempt help Fulham beat Arsenal
RENE MEULENSTEEN has borrowed Sir Alex Ferguson's blueprints for getting the better of Arsenal.


Meulensteen enjoyed plenty of success against the Gunners as Fergie's right-hand man at Manchester United.

He saw how the Scot got under Gunners boss Arsene Wenger's skin and stopped Arsenal's trade-mark passing game.

But Fergie did all that with a team of title-winners while Meulensteen travels to the Emirates Stadium today with a Fulham side that lost 4-1 at home to Sunderland last week.

The Cottagers have NEVER won at Arsenal in any competition but Meulensteen remains hopeful.

He said: "We know what we're going to be up against. There's no secrets - they have had no secrets for the last eight years.

"They play as they play - they won't change. That's the way they are.

"I hope I can apply some of the stuff I learned at Manchester United.

"We'll work on it at the training ground and hopefully we can look back on a performance where we get something out of the game."

If Arsenal are predictable then Fulham are the exact opposite, capable of winning at Norwich and then being thrashed 6-0 at Hull two days later.

Meulensteen added: "That is the situation you get when you are thrown in and taking over at a club because you are playing a deck of cards that is not yours.

"You look at it and you try to play the best hand in different situations and that's what I have done. I made nine changes against Norwich.

"You are still trying to get to the situation where you say 'now I know which cards suit best'."

Dimitar Berbatov is set to drop Darren Bent from his starting line-up, despite the latter's record against the Gunners.

The on-loan Aston Villa man has netted eight goals in his last 10 games against Arsenal and Meulensteen admitted he was tempted to give the ex-England man the nod.

He said:"There is a validity in it, certain players always score in certain places and against certain teams." (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:46:02 AM
Fulham ready for Gunners’ barrage

Arsenal v Fulham
Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen admits he has no idea what to expect from his team at the Emirates today — but he knows precisely what he’s going to get from the Premier League leaders, Arsenal.

Meulensteen has been impressed by the Gunners’ consistency as they continue to stay just ahead of Manchester City in the championship race.

“Arsenal have got a very good chance compared to the previous seasons, but Arsenal have got no secrets and they have had no secrets for the last eight years. They play as they play — they won’t change. That is the way they are,” said the ex-Manchester United coach.

“For many seasons they have picked up the accolade of being the team that plays the most beautiful football.

“You know what you are going to be up against — you are going to be up against a very good football team, some very good individuals, but there are no secrets.”

Meulensteen believes this season’s title race is set for an exciting conclusion.

“The reason why Arsenal are very confident at the moment is because they are up there, when in recent seasons they haven’t been,” he said. “Arsenal are at the top, then City are at the top, then Chelsea — it is like a revolving door and they know every game is so important to make sure they stay up there.

“Only time will tell which teams will sustain that. That is why it is going to be one of the most fascinating ends to the season.”

The Cottagers head across to north London on the back of their midweek 3-0 FA Cup third-round replay win over Norwich.

However, Fulham will need to produce a much-improved display from the one they gave last time in the league when Meulensteen’s men were thumped 4-1 at home by fellow relegation-battlers Sunderland.

But he cannot guarantee what Fulham will be able to produce, accepting he is still learning about his team, who he compares to a new set of playing cards.

“And that is the situation you get when you are thrown in and taking over at a club,” said Meulensteen, “because you are playing a deck of cards that is not yours.”

Arsenal manager Wenger wants his team to focus on their own strengths and not get carried away in the hype surrounding City, who are looking to chalk up 100 goals in all competitions this weekend.

“In terms of their resources, no (we cannot compete) because they have unlimited resources. But with our resources available, we are ready to fight,” said Wenger, who indicated he may have now made a decision on whether to extend his contract, with confirmation of an extension expected to follow in the coming weeks.

“What is very interesting is what we want to do and how we want to play. Can we beat these teams? They are top quality, which I acknowledge, but we want to beat them and therefore with our style, we need to get our resources out there in every game to have a chance to do it.”

Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky is set to play in a protective face mask following surgery on a broken nose, but full-back Nacho Monreal (foot) is doubtful.

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Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 08:47:16 AM
Sea change by the river?

Rene Meulensteen has made Ravel Morrison his number one January transfer target.

A quiet week down at the Cottage with Fulham comfortably seeing off Norwich -- yet again -- to advance to the fourth round of the FA Cup? Far from it. Although the early rounds of England’s famous old cup competition now struggle to engage supporters in the way they once did, a symptom of the game’s over-exposure, the real bombshell Tuesday came while the hardy 11,000 who turned up were drifting away into the dreary West London night.

Fired up perhaps by the side’s first clean sheet in eight games Rene Meulensteen chose the post-match press conference to tell the world Fulham had made a 4 million pound bid for Ravel Morrison and that, although the offer had been knocked back by West Ham, the lad ‘was keen to make the move’ and Fulham were considering going back in with a bigger offer.

This somewhat bold statement by the boss has rattled the embattled Hammers no end with the fall-out continuing all week, and Rene looking to be a little more circumspect as the transfer window temperature gets turned up. I think Fulham will go back for their man -- and once the horse-trading ends and honour has been settled, the Hammers will cash in and accept around 6 million pound for the 20-year-old prospect.

West Ham have other priorities all over the pitch. Despite that win in Cardiff they still, like Fulham, badly need to strengthen in key areas.

Not only did Fulham reveal their bid for Morrison, they also offered Leicester 2 million pounds for their centre-half Liam Moore, were in the market for Joleon Lescott on loan, and are now planning to raid Swansea for their 3 million pound rated left-back Neil Taylor. And these are only the prospective deals we know about. Rest assured there will be others the club are working on.

Now compare all this to the short-term loan deals and sticking-plaster solutions Martin Jol was asked to work with 12 months ago and refer back to my heading. The good ship Fulham has found a helmsman again! Perhaps folding up to bottom side Sunderland proved the final wake-up call needed to turn this project around. Shad Khan is backing his baby with cold hard cash at last!

All Rene’s transfer targets are in their 20s. Dan Burn has impressed the boss enough to see his loan period with Birmingham City terminated. Together with a fit-again Brede Hangeland the side has been given a massive boost -- as good as two major new signings for the remainder of the season.

We are not out of the woods yet. The abysmal Bryan Ruiz has been loaned back to Holland and a long-term replacement for John Arne Riise cannot come quickly enough, while I still have my doubts about Dimitar Berbatov’s desire for a relegation scrap.

Well, if Dimi wants to depart the Premiership with one last swan song for Arsenal, he has the ideal stage with which to impress Arsene Wenger on Saturday. I’ll take a match-winning hat-trick from him in the white shirt please, then by next Wednesday, he can pack his backs and leg it over to the Emirates with my best wishes.

You sense that Rene would just love it if Darren Bent got on a hot streak -- my would that solve a lot of Fulham’s problems. Well he can’t score if he’s not being played, and when he does get a start for heaven’s sake give him some decent service.

There’s no point in rehashing all the old stats about our inability to beat Arsenal. They are up the top and Fulham sit just outside the bottom three for a reason. The Gunners are so much better. It was 1-3 back in August. Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski will give Fulham’s porous defence plenty to contend with, while Wenger has a settled back five to select from. Theo Walcott is out of course, which helps us enormously in the fragile left-back position – where Kieran Richardson is about due another strained hamstring.

Fulham should actually see plenty of the ball in midfield. Scott Parker will be restored, and if Steve Sidwell would only add some brain cells and cut out the ill-judged lunges and missed tackles, he may be good for another goal. I will however rise from my seat at 2.30 and head home if Rene makes the same crass mistake of playing without wingers again for this difficult fixture.

We’ve picked up draws over recent visits to Wenger’s wonderland, here’s hoping for an effort that at least does us credit and shows we have this week perhaps turned an important corner in the history of Fulham FC.

Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 10:06:02 AM
Hangeland’s return the key to survival for Fulham

Guest writing for Archie Rhind-Tutt looks at the return of Brede Hangeland and the significance that the Norwegian could have on the remainder of Fulham’s season.

These days, a phone call between David Moyes and Roy Hodgson would be an interesting insight into coping with two of the most high profile, and subsequently, most scrutinized jobs in English football. Just over nine years ago, Moyes and Hodgson probably had a different comprehension of the word scrutiny.


Back then in November 2004, a phone call did take place between Moyes and Hodgson. Managers of Manchester United and England, they weren’t. Manager of Everton and coach of Viking Stavanger, they were.

With a six foot six inch Stavanger centre back completing a trial at Everton, Moyes asked Hodgson if Brede Hangeland was good enough to play in the Premier League. Indeed he was, according to Hodgson. Yet despite his endorsement, Hangeland did not move to Moyes’s Everton. Instead, the towering Norwegian went to FC Copenhagen in 2006 but he would eventually get that Premier League move.

With his former manager moving to Craven Cottage in late 2007, Brede Hangeland became Roy Hodgson’s first signing at Fulham in January 2008 – and what a signing. Without Hangeland, you could argue whether Hodgson would be in the position he currently holds, such was the integral role he played in the side that revitalised Hodgson’s standing in English football.

Like most relationships, it all started on a cold Tuesday night in Bolton with a most glorious clean sheet. That night was the genesis of a central defensive partnership that would form the bedrock of Fulham’s success under Hodgson. Because it was there, that Hangeland first played with Aaron Hughes.

Salt and pepper, gin and tonic, fish and chips, Batman and Robin, dust pan and brush –Hangeland and Hughes was a combination to rival any. Hangeland, in footballing parlance “the stopper”, was the man charged with sniffing out the danger, meeting it head on whilst it was Hughes’ job to cover the lanky Norwegian should any pesky forward nip past him.

So they had to overcome some hard times, namely the Whites near relegation to the Championship in 2008. But after that hurdle was negotiated in the most improbable manner, it was with Hangeland and Hughes at the back that Fulham enjoyed, firstly, their best ever league finish and then most memorably, that run to the Europa League Final. Hangeland was the one who took most of the credit, linked with a move away as a result, with Hughes the able yet underappreciated sidekick.

But then came the inevitable fall after attaining such heights. Whilst the partnership made it through the Mark Hughes reign, it was to be Martin Jol who’d split up the pair and it’s no coincidence that Hangeland’s performances deteriorated. Pace has never been a great strength of the lanky Norwegian, so as a result, Jol’s increasingly attacking or defensively irresponsible tactics, depending on your point of view, were not conducive.

Still, by this point, Hangeland had been made Fulham captain after Danny Murphy’s departure. His mere presence in the side was still important though. Fulham and Hangeland’s form was already waning before he was ruled out through injury in October last year.

His final game of 2013 came against Crystal Palace where he was outjumped by Adrian Mariappa for the opening goal. Clearly the sciatic nerve problem, as it was later revealed, was affecting him given that Mariappa is nearly a foot smaller than the Norwegian. Fulham went on to win that game but it would be Jol’s final victory as five consecutive defeats after sealed his fate.

His successor Rene Meulensteen hasn’t had a chance to use Hangeland in the Premier League yet but he might well be the key to survival this season. In the eight games with Brede Hangeland this season, Fulham conceded 10 goals in eight games. In the 13 without him, the Whites have conceded a staggering 36 – averaging out at nearly three per game.

It’s not just his statistical importance to Fulham though – symbolically, he is crucial. It’s a mark of the man that away from home, no Fulham player makes a greater point of running over to the visiting fans to applaud them before kickoff. After every game, he’s there too. He embodies the spirit that you want from a captain.

It’s poignant too that his Premier League return should come against Arsenal. It was against the Gunners that he was first presented to the Craven Cottage faithful back in January 2008. His first Premier League goal for Fulham was also against Arsene Wenger’s side and during his time at Craven Cottage, he has been linked with a move to the Emirates on a few occasions.

Six years to the day that he signed for Fulham, Brede Hangeland is likely to lead the Cottagers out at front runners Arsenal on Saturday. A result is unlikely but that game won’t decide if Fulham survive. If Rene Meulensteen was able to bring in a lithe central defensive partner for Hangeland, it would only help but that looks unlikely given the backlog of centre backs at the club. Dan Burn appears to be Hangeland’s protégé judging by the FA Cup replay against Norwich.


Burn worked well with the captain on the Norwegian’s return from injury as the Whites kept only a second clean sheet in Rene Meulensteen’s 13th game in charge. He may not be the most suitable partner for the rest of the season but in the long term, he looks the heir apparent to Hangeland’s position in the side.

Even though 20 goals have been shipped in the last 6 league games, the general performances have been improved under Meulensteen. You might argue that it wasn’t too difficult when they’d plumbed to such depths as those given away at West Ham in Martin Jol’s final game. Then again, the ten goals conceded against Hull and Sunderland alone testify against any improvement but overall, there has been a greater balance to Fulham under the former Manchester United coach.

Brede Hangeland’s return to the first team will only improve that and providing he stays fit until the end of the campaign his comeback is likely to provide the stability that Fulham need to stay in the Premier League once more.

Archie is a reporter for BT Sport’s European Football Show and he produces LBC 97.3′s Saturday Afternoon radio programme Scores with Ian Payne. You can follow Archie on twitter @archiert1 (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 10:09:11 AM
Finding A Balance

René Meulensteen is looking for Fulham to produce the perfect away performance when they take on Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal on Saturday.

The Gunners are overwhelming favourites to triumph at the Emirates but Meulensteen knows that if his side can find the right balance between attack and defence, then they have a decent chance of leaving North London with a result.

“I think you need to be sensible, that’s the word,” he explained. “You need to look at what the situation is – they’ve got a very good record throughout the season, home and away, so it’s going to be a hell of a challenge for us.

“But on the back of the clean sheet against Norwich City, I said to the players that in many performances we’ve shown that we can attack and go forward, but let’s also start to show that we can be good defenders as well and be very solid and very hard to break down.

“I think you need to find the right balance. If you’re too open they will hurt you because of the players that they’ve got, if you’re too negative you won’t get forward and won’t ask them any questions. It’s making sure you find the right way to be solid but still be able to hurt them when we can.”

He continued: “We know what we’re going to be up against, there are no secrets. We’ve worked hard on the training ground and I really hope I can look back on a performance which sees us get something out of the game. If we do that we’ve done really well.”

Fulham’s main aim on Saturday will be to ensure that it’s not consecutive defeats in the league, following last week’s perplexing 4-1 reversal against Sunderland. The Whites dominated for large portions of that fixture with little to show for it, but Meulensteen reassured fans that everyone at the Club is working hard to find the correct formula for success.

“There’s a great application from everybody,” he said. “I cannot fault for one minute the application that these boys show and the desire in every training session we put in.


“I’m still juggling and finding the best combinations and I’ve seen a lot of positive things. I saw a lot of positive things against Norwich and if we can build on those together, we’ll become more and more solid.

“If we become more solid then that’s the way forward because we’ve proven we’ve got enough going forward, and there’s also the introduction of some young Academy players. You can see straight away there’s quality there, there’s energy there, they’re definitely not the finished article but they can act as our sort of trump cards that you can throw in and use when you have to.”

Shipping goals has been a major concern for Fulham this season, and so the return to fitness of Brede Hangeland is most welcome. The Club Captain played 90 minutes in midweek as the Whites defeated Norwich 3-0, and when questioned as to whether his availability for selection is akin to a new signing, Meulensteen stated: “It is, absolutely. Brede is like a new player because as long as I’ve been here and involved I’ve had no access to him.

“It’s a big boost, and a big boost for him because, first and foremost, he’s a fantastic centre-back, a very good footballer. You see his calmness and straightaway that transfers to all the players. It was very good to see him back – he’s been very important over the years for Fulham so it was a big boost.”

Aside from a couple of nervy moments early on against the Canaries, the home defence was relatively comfortable containing their attacking threats, and Meulensteen was naturally delighted to see his side prevent the opposition from scoring for the first time in eight outings.

He revealed: “I said before the game, ‘listen guys, if you get me a clean sheet I’ll be the happiest man in England, whatever the number is after that, even if it would’ve ended up in a 0-0 after 90 minutes plus extra-time.’ So I really set that out as a target and we were focused on that and the lads did ever so well.” (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 10:10:41 AM

Arsenal continue to set the pace at the top of the Premier League, though both Manchester City and Chelsea are keeping them honest. The Gunners took just a single point from their pre-Christmas clashes with this duo, though they have responded with five straight wins in all competitions. Fulham find themselves in relegation trouble, but they did beat Norwich in the FA Cup on Tuesday night.

The Cottagers have been pretty wretched on their top-flight travels in recent times, suffering seven defeats in nine matches. Hull put six past them in their previous encounter, so it is easy to see why their hosts begin as overwhelming favourites (87%). Arsene Wenger’s men have been fairly dominant on their own patch of late, collecting 23 points from a possible 27 since losing to Aston Villa on the opening day.

We do not expect both teams to score (61%), as this has been the case in 14 of the last 20 Fulham away games at this level. Each of the visitors’ previous five Premier League fixtures on the road have yielded over 2.5 goals (68%), however, so Arsenal could be in for a handsome victory. In terms of an exact result, then it is fair to say that 3-0 (13%) and 4-0 (10%) have to be considered viable options.

Best Bet: Arsenal to win (87%)  @ 1.22 with Bet Fred. Simply click the link to fill out the bet slip. (
Title: Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (18/01/14)...
Post by: whitejc on January 18, 2014, 12:44:10 PM
Why Arsenal MUST and will try to put FIVE past Fulham!!

I am not one of those people who think that Arsenal cannot win the Premier league unless we start to win games against our big rivals and I don’t think Arsene Wenger is either. Of course he wants to beat Chelsea, Man City just as he wants to beat every team he plays, but it is not the be-all-and-end-all for the Gunners. That is winning the title.

And the Gunners can do that by beating everyone else, after all it has got us this far, despite losing to both Manchester sides and drawing with Chelsea. Wenger spoke about the importance of beating the smaller teams, as reported by, just to drive the point home. I think he was urging his players on to make sure there is no repeat of the last 15 minutes at Aston Villa.

Wenger said, “That gives you consistency. After that you want to make some special results against the direct contenders as well.

“Of course that is the target but let’s first be consistent.”

In all honesty, Arsenal could and should have destroyed Villa in that game, but we sat back and invited pressure and it will bite us in the Arsenal before long. We have a great defence, but why test them out when you have the creative, attacking talent able to blast a team off the pitch. And a big win shoots confidence through the team, just look at City who have scored their way out of a poor start to an inconsistent start to the season.

I think it is important for Arsenal to not lose at Chelsea and when City come to the Emirates, but we simply must beat the lower sides and if we start beating them by 3 or 4 it will make those bigger teams much warier when they face us.

Finally, Wenger is about to have a much bigger group of players to choose from, with the likes of Ramsey, Arteta, Bendtner and Rosicky coming back, so whoever plays today should be aware that he needs to be good to keep his place. Smashing five past Fulham, just as Hull City did, would be a great way of Wilshere, Ozil, Podolski, Giroud and all stating their cases. Come On You Gunners, give me five! (