Author Topic: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...  (Read 3222 times)

Offline whitejc

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Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« on: October 20, 2012, 07:56:36 AM »
Premier League: Fulham v Aston Villa match preview
A look ahead to this weekend's Premier League fixture at Craven Cottage

With Paul Lambert seemingly preferring Christian Benteke to Darren Bent in attack, the Aston Villa manager will be hoping the Belgian’s international form will continue as the £7m signing from Genk has only found the net once in the league this term.

The 21-year-old did find his shooting boots in the past week as he scored in both of Belgium’s World Cup qualifiers, against Serbia and Scotland, to put his country top of Group A.

Fulham boss Martin Jol can recall star striker Dimitar Berbatov who has missed the last two games with a thigh strain but he will be more concerned with his backline as his side have conceded late goals in their past three games.

The Cottagers let in goals after 87 minutes against Wigan, Manchester City and Southampton respectively. Had they not conceded these goals, the West Londoners would be above Arsenal in seventh in the table.


KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm



Aston Villa 1 (Weimann) Fulham 0, Premier League, March 2012

Fulham 0 Aston Villa 0, Premier League, August 2011

Aston Villa 2 (Walker, Paintsil OG) Fulham 2 (Johnson, Dempsey), Premier League, February 2011



In recent history the fixture has produced mostly draws: nine of the last 14 Premier League games between the two have ended with the scores level.

Only Manchester United have scored more league goals than Fulham this season.



Fulham to win: 1.80

Villa to win: 4.50

Draw: 3.50


TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.30pm

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2012, 08:02:39 AM »
Fulham v Aston Villa: Squad sheets

Despite Fulham finishing 14 points and seven places above Villa last season, the two clubs started the season with their usual differing expectations. Paul Lambert was handed the Villa Park reins and charged with rekindling glory days that are now more than 30 years ago, while Martin Jol knows maintaining mid-table mediocrity will keep his employers and supporters happy. Jol welcomes back both Dimitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric who will aim to expose a Villa rearguard sorely missing the presence of Richard Dunne. Paul Chronnell

Venue Craven Cottage, Saturday 3pm

Tickets Sold out

Last season Fulham 0 Aston Villa 0

Referee Chris Foy

This season's matches 5 Y5, R0, 1.00 cards per game

Odds Fulham 9-10 Aston Villa 15-4 Draw 13-5

Fulham v Aston Villa: Probable starters in bold, contenders in light.
Illustration: Graphic


Subs from Somogyi, Stockdale, Kelly, Senderos, Baird, Kasami, Frei, Rodallega, Karagounis, Richardson, Briggs, Dejagah, Kacaniklic, Na Banga, Smith

Doubtful Diarra (knee), Ruiz (groin), Senderos (match fitness)

Injured Davies (hip, Jan)

Suspended None

Form guide DLWWLL

Disciplinary record Y4 R0

Leading scorers Duff, Petric 3

Aston Villa

Subs from Given, Hutton, Ireland, N'Zogbia, Westwood, Bowery, Bannan, Weimann, Stevens, Lichaj, Bent, Herd, Baker, Williams, Burke

Doubtful Clark (shin), Ireland (wrist)

Injured Dunne (groin, 3 Nov), Gardner (knee, May), Petrov (leukaemia, unknown)

Suspended None

Form guide LDLWDL

Disciplinary record Y16 R1

Leading scorer Bent 2

Match pointers

• Five points from seven games represents Villa's worst ever start to a Premier League campaign

• All seven of Fulham's league games this season have seen more than 2.5 goals scored on average

• Villa have scored just five goals in their past 12 matches away from home in the top flight

• Mark Schwarzer has made more saves (40) than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League this term

• Only Norwich (6.8%) have a worse chance conversion rate than Villa (9.8%) in 2012-13

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2012, 08:04:19 AM »

Fulham could only take a point out of their game with newly promoted Southampton, despite goals from Keiron Richardson and an own goal earnt from a deflected John Arne Riise shot

* Southampton are consistently one of the hardest working teams in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, and they brought that out in Fulham in their last match. Fulham covered 67.85 miles in that game, by far their most as a team so far this season, while Bryan Ruiz’s 6.94 miles is a high for an individual Fulham player this season
* Despite the result, Fulham’s Damien Duff remains in the top ten in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index have scored three goals so far this season and also contributed an assist. Duff has also delivered 13 crosses.

* Fulham’s old guard have been leading the way this season. Riise is another Fulham veteran who continues to impress this season, and has contributed three assists so far this season, while Steve Sidwell has both won and attempted the fifth highest number of tackles in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index with 20 won and 35 attempted

* Mark Schwarzer, another established player, has been the busiest goalkeeper in the league so far this season with 42 saves so far

* Striker Hugo Rodallega, in contrast, is a new addition making an impact at Craven Cottage. He may only have one goal to his name, but he has had twenty shots at goal so far this season with fourteen on target (the 7th highest shots on target for a player this season)

* Aston Villa continued to slide down the Premier League table with a 2-0 defeat against Spurs, a result made all the worse because of injury to young defender Joe Bennett

* Another young player for Villa, 23 year old defender Cieran Clark, is ranked fourth for blocks so far this season with ten

* Another bright point is that Villa’s 61.29 miles against Spurs was the second highest distance posted by Spurs in a single game so far this season

* Villa striker Brett Holman has been doing his best to win the ball back in Villa’s attacking third, having attempted more tackles than any other striker in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this season

* Karim El Ahmadi has been the focal point of his team this season, receiving the ball 336 times, more than any other Villa player


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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2012, 08:06:35 AM »
Fulham handed triple boost ahead of Aston Villa clash

Fulham v Aston Villa

FULHAM boss Martin Jol reckons Mahamadou Diarra's rapid recovery from a knee injury is 'almost a miracle'.

The Mali man is in contention to return to the fold for tomorrow's clash with Aston Villa at Craven Cottage, despite Jol fearing he could miss most of the campaign when he got crocked on international duty last month.

However, the former Real Madrid midfielder has battled back to fitness after surgery to cure the problem and could feature.

Jol said: "He is almost a miracle, you know? I thought it would be a bit longer. He needed an operation and, having said that, he is still coming back. He will be involved."

The Dutchman is also boosted by the return of Dimitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric after injury, but Bryan Ruiz (groin) is a doubt after getting crocked playing for Costa Rica.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 08:07:36 AM »
Kacaniklic has taken chance with both hands - Jol

MARTIN Jol has hailed the impact of Fulham youngster Alex Kacaniklic.

The 21-year-old, who recently signed a new deal at the club, has been a Fulham regular this season after bursting onto the scene last year, scoring in the opening-day demolition of Norwich City.

Kacaniklic bagged his first international goal in the win over the Faroe Islands and earned rave reviews for his cameo as Sweden fought back from 4-0 down to draw with Germany on Tuesday.

The former Liverpool forward's exploits have reportedly caught the attention of a number of Serie A clubs.

Kacaniklic's agent, Miro Jaganjac, insists the youngster is settled at Craven Cottage, and boss Jol is happy how he has seized his chance in SW6.

He said: “I feel it is the same for all these youngsters, they need a chance.

“They are talents and of course you can be a talent when you’re 25 if you don’t get a chance, but I gave him this chance and I gave Kerim Frei the chance.

“We’ve got Kieran Richardson in that position and he created three chances and two goals for us when he came on against Southampton.

“There is good rivalry between them so we will have to wait to see who is playing tomorrow.

“Even if ‘Kaca’ is not in the team, he is doing well. I will help him to be a very good player but I know there is some interest in ‘Kaca’ - it is not very serious otherwise I would tell you.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2012, 08:09:09 AM »
Fulham host out-of-form Villa - Preview - Aston Villa (h)

Dimitar Berbatov returns to the starting eleven while Mahamadou Diarra makes unexpectedly quick recovery.

The return of domestic football has thrown up an intriguing encounter at Craven Cottage this Saturday, where Fulham take on an out-of-form and out-of-sorts Aston Villa side.

Just under three years ago, we lost this same match, at home, and showed little in the way of resistance. Martin O'Neill was in charge of Villa then, and they were very much considered a top six side. But a lot can change in a relatively minimal amount of time.

On this occasion, we go into the match as favourites, boasting a line-up which may include Dimitar Berbatov and Mahamadou Diarra, amongst others, while, as is the way with Paul Lambert, his Midlands side will be fielding an array of lower-league signings.

It was a shift in the proceedings that few would have predicted at the time but now, three years on, Martin Jol will want to exploit the newly-found Villa inferiority complex.

We go into the game lapsing in form. We haven't won since mid-September at the DW Stadium, losing to Manchester City and drawing with Southampton. Brede Hangeland and his defence, in particular, will be keen to put their St Mary's display behind them after two goals conceded from set pieces denied Fulham the three points.

Villa, meanwhile, have more to worry about. They have picked up 5 points from a possible 21 and are left languishing just above the relegation zone. Their saving grace so far this season has been a noteworthy Capital One Cup victory over Manchester City.

On the opening day of last season, under Alex McLeish, two superb Shay Given saves meant Fulham could only start their campaign with a 0-0 draw, while in the reverse tie, the home side were victorious at Villa Park.

At Craven Cottage, Fulham have won 13 times against Villa and drawn 12, while the Villains have won on 4 occasions. In an overall record of 60 matches, Fulham have won 18, Villa 21, and there have been 21 draws.

Villa will travel with doubt over a wrist injury sustained by Stephen Ireland as Richard Dunne and Craig Gardner are certainties to sit out.

Berbatov will return to the starting line-up and Mahamadou Diarra, who has made an exceptionally speedy recovery from a knee complaint, will be in the squad. Bryan Ruiz is a concern after picking up a knock on international duty and Simon Davies remains unavailable.

Score prediction: Fulham 2-0 Villa

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2012, 08:10:12 AM »
Fulham Vs Aston Villa – Preview

This is going to be a tough game, following the international break Premier League football is back and we’re facing a tough Fulham side. Fulham are coming back from a victory against Wigan, while Villa are coming back from a defeat to Tottenham. Both team’s were away. On current form Fulham look favourites, with the London side collecting 10 points. That’s 5 more than Villa.
Fulham are a really good side, especially at home. We are going to have to work extra hard to get anything from this game. I would happily take a draw, like we did last year. But that’s not easy especially with Berbatov back for Fulham. Lambert will have another striker dilemma, especially after Benteke scored 2 goals in 2 games for Belgium during the World Cup Qualifiers. Will he pick the a Premier League scorer, Bent. Or the inform man, Benteke. Or will he play both.

Fulham Team News:
Attackers Berbatov and Petric have recovered from their injury problems. But Ruiz and Diarra are doubt’s for the game.

Aston Villa Team News:
Ireland should be back, following a broken bone in the wrist. Joe Bennett should also return after gashing his knee in Villa last game. Clark is a slight injury doubt.

Fulham Facts:
Fulham have conceded six goals from set pieces this season including four from corners – both are league-highs.
Fulham have won nine and drawn two of their 13 home matches in 2012, earning 29 points out of a possible 39.
Only Barcelona (66.7%) have a better shooting accuracy than Fulham (63.5%) across Europe’s top five leagues this season.

Aston Villa:
Five points from seven games is Aston Villa’s worst ever start to a Premier League campaign
They are winless in their last 12 Premier League away matches spanning 10 months (D5, L7).
Only Sunderland and Norwich have scored fewer goals than the six mustered by Villa in their seven Premier League matches.

Possible Line-Up’s


————El Ahmadi———-

Adam: Fulham 2-0 Aston Villa

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2012, 08:11:15 AM »
Is the Fulham game a defining moment for Villa?

So, I’ve sat and thought about this game for the last few days and really don’t know what to make of it.

My attitude has always been that we should be looking to beat Fulham.

Not that I dislike them; they’re a very nice family type club, that no-one has a problem with.

Even the ground is what you might call “quaint”.

I like that too.

They apparently look after their own and don’t expect miracles; a very much middle of the road club that offends no-one.

But they ain’t the Villa and we should be expecting to do ‘em, even though it’s on their own patch.

From memory (I can’t be arsed with stats), we have a decent record in draws and wins over the last few years.

But what if we lose tomorrow?

Would that mean we’re in trouble?

The way I’m thinking is, if we don’t take something from the game and then lose to Norwich, we are deeply in the brown stuff.

Tomorrow, in that sense is somewhat a defining moment for us.

Beat Fulham, then Norwich and we’re on a roll and it’s all good.

I say we need a point, at least.

But what if we don’t get it?

That’s a bit scarey for me.

I don’t believe, from what I’ve seen, that we have the bottle to fight adversity.

Hence tomorrow, for me is a defining moment.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2012, 08:18:37 AM »
EXCLUSIVE: 'It's boredom, not the booze that's always been my big problem', says newly retired Bullard

Jimmy Bullard nearly became a  fireman. He was working as a painter and decorator with his dad, Big Jim, and dreaming of becoming a professional footballer while playing for Gravesend and Northfleet.

‘I got quite far and failed the written test, obviously,’ says the former Peterborough and Fulham midfielder with a self-deprecating roll of his eyes. ‘I was a Sky fitter for a few months as well, had my own van.’

Yet Bullard’s dream did not go up in smoke. He did make it. And now, in the month he turns 34, the dream is over.

Stumped: Jimmy Bullard has retired because of injuries

The ‘late developer’, who ascended the divisions with Wigan Athletic before being called up for his country, has retired. A ‘whack on the knee’ in his first game for MK Dons in September was the final straw as Bullard finally gave in to the injuries that blighted his career.

‘I thought I would leave while I’m half-decent, rather than being absolutely crap,’ he says. ‘I was never going to make it again in the Premier League — and that’s what I strived to do as a kid.

‘I was frightened of really, really injuring myself and putting my whole life in jeopardy: with work and with playing football with my kids; with walking, even.’

Bullard feared his career was over when he ‘smashed all of the ligaments’ in his right knee in only his fourth game for Fulham in September 2006. ‘Every one of them was hanging on by a fag paper,’ he says.

Staying up: Bullard celebrates with Danny Murphy after helping Fulham beat Portsmouth 1-0 at Fratton Park on the final day of the 2008 season to avoid relegation

He injured the same knee on his Hull City debut after signing for £5million in January 2009, causing a nine-month lay-off.
 In December he was out again. ‘Wallop. I landed on my head and did my left knee. Another three months out and my head was completely gone.’

Bullard was desperately unlucky with injury, but there have been suggestions his lifestyle did little to help his cause. East Yorkshire used to be awash with stories of the midfielder’s late-night drinking and he was suspended for an incident during a pre-season training camp in Slovenia in July 2011. Bullard has signed a confidentiality clause that stops him from discussing it, but insists it was ‘just an argument with the manager’, Nigel Pearson.

Bullard also received a two-week suspension at Ipswich Town last March after turning up late for training following a two-day bender in Newcastle with Michael Chopra. The ‘dopey sod’ apparently forgot to book a taxi.

Cursed: Bullard is helped off during his ill-fated Hull debut

So did this talented sportsman, a scratch golfer with a natural gift for football, drink his career away? ‘No,’ says Bullard emphatically. ‘That’s rubbish; an embarrassment.

‘When I’m wrong I’m the first to say sorry. I shouldn’t have done that — turning up late and going out two nights in a row at Ipswich. I’m a professional athlete.

‘When you’re injured you sometimes do go out more than you should but you think, “Well, I haven’t got a game to play at the weekend, so what’s it going to do?”

‘Browny (former Hull manager Phil Brown) let the boys go out when we wanted. There were about six or seven lads living in the same place. We used to have a fantastic time, parties and stuff.

‘We’d go out, but I might have gone out for a bite to eat and the next morning he would have heard I’d been in a bar until 4am or out for three days. It was unbelievable.’

The early days: Bullard playing for Peterborough in 2003

Bullard insists booze is not his problem, but boredom. His eyes  constantly flicker about, and even at 10am in a cafe in a sleepy village in Surrey — after pouring sugar into his tea — he already seems wired. Bullard is very entertaining company, but non-stop.

‘I’ve got a bad problem with boredom,’ he says. ‘I get bang into trouble when I’m bored. I didn’t combat the boredom, but I got over it. Ian Ashbee was the captain at Hull and he was injured at the same time, which got me out of trouble. But I always had to have people round me.

‘It’s a nightmare, especially when you’re indoors on your own. I’m not one to play computer games. My boredom was off the scale. I wished I was going out. But a lot of it was so inflamed and so out of control.’

Joker in the pack: Bullard was known as a prankster at his various clubs

Bullard remembers Hull fans confronting him in the street; angry that a man earning £45,000 a week (the club’s record signing) was not playing. It was a ‘massive salary’ compared to his old Fulham deal, a ‘life-changing’, four-and-a-half-year contract, but it ended badly.

Hull were relegated and Bullard’s contract was terminated in August 2011 as player and club concluded their business in court. The accusation that Bullard was greedy, however, rankles.

‘I played for nothing for three months,’ he reveals. ‘I wasn’t guaranteed to get that money — there were reports of liquidation — but everyone was in the same boat and that’s what happens when a club’s bang in trouble: you’ve got to stick with it, haven’t you?

Pain game: Bullard suffered his first major injury just a few games into his Fulham career away at Newcastle

‘Then I found out I was the only player not getting paid. I had bills to pay. In the end Hull did pay, but they shouldn’t have done that, just because I was on a big contract.

‘As a player who had an injury like that I’m always going to safeguard myself and take as many years as I can, but it was about football, too. I wanted to go to a club who showed they wanted me.

‘But I’m a fan myself. I know what they were thinking, but I’ve always given 100 per cent when I could. I’ve done my rehab. There isn’t a lot I could say I would do differently.’

In some ways Bullard seems to belong to a different era, when more players had personalities as memorable as their performances. You can’t help but laugh as he recalls the time he checked in to a hotel on a pre-season tour with Fulham and noted manager Chris Coleman’s room number.

International recognition: Bullard was called into the England squad by Fabio Capello in 2008 - but never played a game

‘I put everything on his room all week: golf, golf buggies,’ he says. ‘I even bought myself a putter. All the Real Madrid boys were there and I bought them all drinks. I must have spent about £3,000.

‘It was classic: I watched Cookie (Coleman) go up to sign out — plus what he’d had — and he says, “That’s a bit steep, isn’t it?” Then, “Bullard!” ‘He didn’t charge me for it, but then I broke the glass lift door. I clipped a golf ball and it shattered. I kept quiet but it was me or Papa Bouba Diop — the size of him! — so I had to put my hand up. It cost me about £700.’

Bullard wrinkles his nose at what he sees as some of the ‘regimentation’ of today’s game, when grown men have to ‘be in bed by 10’.

‘Do me a favour,’ he says. ‘I can’t be doing with that. But I think you’ve got to weigh things up.

Playing the fool: Bullard imitates Hull manager Phil Brown with his goal celebration after scoring against Manchester City

‘I knew I could get away with it with Chris Coleman, but he was great for me. It was probably my worst moment in football when he was sacked. If Roy Hodgson’s there I’m not going to do it. You’ve got to use your noggin. Can you imagine doing that to Roberto Mancini?’

He’s ‘messing about’ again, yet Bullard sounds faintly disappointed when he says: ‘People don’t recognise my football, half of them; it’s all the things off YouTube or my hair advert.’

He insists his route to the top made him value his profession more. He still has a letter from one of his teachers, Mr Marquart, telling him he had the talent to become a footballer and the same little boy look appears in his eyes when he describes being offered a trial at West Ham. Bullard, then 19, ‘still had claret and blue on the walls’ and thought the scout, Roger Scott, was ‘having a wind-up’.

That's your lot: Bullard quit football after he failed to recover from his knee troubles

‘But I turned up and Harry Redknapp was there,’ he adds. ‘Me and Frank Lampard going one-on-one first thing. I’ll never forget it.’

Bullard does not bow out as a player in a blaze of glory but proudly recalls when he was called into the England squad in August 2008.

Although he was never capped, he is quietly happy with his achievements, insisting he has ‘enjoyed it at every club’.

There have certainly been some firework moments, that’s for sure.

October 23, 1978: Born in London.
1998: Joins Gravesend and Northfleet.
1999: Joins West Ham for £30,000 but fails to make an appearance.
2001: Joins Peterborough.
2003: Moves to Wigan in January for £275,000 and helps secure promotion to the Championship that season, before promotion to the Premier League in 2004-05.
2006: Joins Fulham for £2.5m. Bullard dislocates his kneecap in September and is out until January 2008.
2008: Called up for England World Cup qualifiers with Croatia and Andorra but doesn’t play.   
2009: Joins Hull for £5m in January. Injures his knee on debut and misses nine months. Named Premier League player of the month in November. Injures his other knee in December and is sidelined  for three months.
2011: Joins Ipswich after a loan spell. Suspended after drinking spree with Michael Chopra.
2012: Joins MK Dons but a knock in his first game for them convinces him it is time to retire.

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2012, 08:20:13 AM »
Fulham v Villa preview: Mood positive ahead of Craven Cottage clash
Paul Brown assesses the trip to Craven Cottage.

There's a distinct air of positivity at Bodymoor Heath on the eve of the clash with Fulham.

Greeted with a smile at reception, the climb up the stairs to the press room offers passage past several first teamers and their demeanours are of assurance, poise and self-belief.

Then it's on to the media briefing with manager Paul Lambert.

He's affable, relaxed and even comedic in spells as he faces the gathered radio journalists in a quiet corner of the training complex.

Asked whether there's been frustration at the meagre points haul from the start to the season, his answer is swift and decisive.

"I never look over my shoulder about what could have been. It's about now. Some of the performances have been really good. We'll just keep on going.

"I am happy with the way the lads are playing. Yes I accept results aren't what we would have liked but I get the sense that people want us to do well, the fans do certainly.

"It's a huge club to get going but it's something I'm enjoying. I'm not disheartened.

"The only points this season where I have been disappointed have been the second half at West Ham and the Everton game. I am not too disappointed about how we are playing.

"Yes I'd like more points. But I'm certainly not disheartened.

"The lads know they are playing well. We should have got something from Tottenham for example. If Christian's header goes in, it's a different game.

"We were well in the match at White Hart Lane. They are a right top side but we went down there and gave it a right good go.

"We are playing well enough to be winning games, that's for sure.

"The crowd have been great too, home and away. They are a big marker on what you're trying to do.

"I am not naive enough to think it might change if we don't get results.

"I am grateful for the support. But I know we've got to win games. The fans have been great with me."

Everything is geared to the next game in the confines of Bodymoor Heath.

The manager preaches about the need for his players to "keep going" and not wallow in the glory of victory or the despair of defeat.

But he's aware that impressive international exploits during the domestic break from action will have a positive effect on the mood of some players, such as Christian Benteke.

Benteke was gutted after missing two golden opportunities in the loss at Tottenham.

Instead of retreating into his rather-large shell, the powerful forward exploded against Serbia and Scotland, bagging two goals in the two games.

Lambert was impressed, even if he jokingly threatened to drop Benteke for the Fulham match because of his scoring exploits against the Tartan Army.

Lambert was truly thrilled with Benteke's brave and bullish response.

"I'm pretty sure when he went away after the Tottenham game, when he had chances to score, he could have went under with that.

"To bounce back with two goals in two games for his national team is excellent. That's a big thing for a young player - to get over the disappointment. I'm delighted with the way he has been playing.

"Christian is playing in a right top Belgium side and more than holding his own. He will be terrific for this club too.

"I think he can be huge, anything he wants to be. As his career progresses I think he can be a top, top striker. He is a handful and he's only 21!

"He'll make mistakes. I said that when I signed him because he doesn't know everything about the game. But as time goes on and experience improves, he will be an absolute handful during his career. He's come in and done great."

Lambert will hope his international form transfers on to the Barclays Premier League stage at Craven Cottage as Villa go in search of their first away top-flight win of the season.

That's certainly what Lambert is aiming for, nothing less, at a ground he finds idyllic.

"Their home record is very good. But you have to go there and try to win. It's not something I am going to go there and sit there and defend.

"We will go there and try to win a football match. We have to get the fans going. It's a tough match. They have started the season well but we have to go there and try to win."

If he get the likes of Benteke firing, he might well achieve his aim.


Match: Fulham v Villa
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Venue: Craven Cottage
Date: Saturday October 20, KO 3pm
Referee: Chris Foy,,10265~2953677,00.html?

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2012, 08:22:34 AM »
Dimitar Berbatov and Mahamadou Diarra return to lift Fulham

Dimitar Berbatov will return to the Fulham starting line-up against Aston Villa today and could be joined by Mahamadou Diarra after what Martin Jol described as a "miracle" recovery.

It has been an amazing turnaround for Diarra as only last month the Fulham manager revealed fears the midfielder could be ruled out for the majority of the season.

Diarra damaged his left knee on his return from international exile with Mali and required surgery, which could have meant five months out had it shown a cruciate ligament problem. Fortunately for Fulham it was the best case scenario but, even still, Jol has been surprised by the speed of recovery.

"Diarra is back," the Fulham manager said. "He is almost a miracle, you know? I thought it would be a bit longer, but they always said it could be three or four weeks or possibly longer. He needed an operation and, having said that, he is still coming back. He will be involved."

Jol can also call upon Berbatov and Mladen Petric against Villa. The pair have recovered from their respective injuries and, aside from long-term absentee Simon Davies, it leaves the Dutchman with fitness concerns only over Bryan Ruiz.

Ninth-placed Fulham will be looking to continue their sturdy start to the season today, where Steve Sidwell is likely to line up against his former club Villa just months after he considered quitting football due to ongoing injury problems.

"Steve Sidwell was very good when he started with Danny Murphy in midfield," Jol said. "He then had his problem with his hernia and came back, then needed an operation again – but he was probably not as fit as he was before. But from pre-season when he came back, I think he is the old Steve Sidwell so he is an important member of our squad."

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2012, 08:25:35 AM »
The Anorak: Fulham look too strong for toiling Villa

FULHAM should be kept onside when they play at Craven Cottage. They have managed nine goals in their past three home games, and will surely add more to that tally as they host Aston Villa, who have continued to toil this season despite Paul Lambert replacing the hugely unpopular Alex McLeish.

Fulham will, of course, have to be aware of the goal threat of the newly signed Christian Benteke, who Scotland supporters know only too well scored the openining goal against Craig Levein’s side in midweek.

Lambert seems to be prefer Benteke to the out-of-favour Darren Bent to lead the line for Villa, but the Cottagers, for me, have so much more up front .

The return of Dimitar Berbatov, who will link up with Mladen Petic, with Brian Ruiz and the evergreen Damien Duff supplying the ammo from out wide, look like they will be too much of a handful for nervy Villa. So take the men from the banks of the Thames to secure another home win today at 10-11 with Coral.

Elsewhere on this weekend’s football list, back Yeovil Town at 5-4 with BetVictor to beat Bury, who have developed a bad habit of conceding in injury time. Brighton are another team who it usually pays to follow when they are at home. With the fit-again Craig Mackail-Smith back in the team, they can make Middelsbrough’s long trek to the south coast feel even longer, and the 10-11 on Gus Poyet’s team looks worth taking.

I like a long shot in the form of Morton to win against First Division pacesetters Dunfermline at East End Park. Last time out, Allan Moore’s side thumped league leaders Partick Thitsle and earned rave reviews. A repeat performance could give punters a decent payout and they are worth a punt at 18-5 with BetVictor.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2012, 08:27:12 AM »
Fulham vs. Aston Villa: Time To Mix It Up?

Clive Rose

Heading into this afternoon's clash at Craven Cottage, Fulham will be rightly favored to take all three points. With the odds of success and embarrassment both fairly low, is it time for Paul Lambert to try something different?

When we last left Aston Villa, they'd been well and truly torn apart by Spurs leading to a fair bit of hand-wringing and doomsaying from the fans. The severity of the whipping Tottenham put on Villa erased some positive momentum that had been building in the wake of the shock League Cup upset at the Etihad and encouraging come-from-behind draw against West Brom, and it reminded even the most optimistic fans of the reality of the club's current situation; 16th in the league, with just one win from a relatively soft first seven games. It's far too early to panic, but Aston Villa will need to start winning games at some point. Unfortunately, there aren't all that many reasons to expect them to do so against Fulham.

The offseason and close of the transfer window didn't go all that well for the Cottagers, at least from an outsider's perspective; key attacking cogs Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele left for Spurs, and though quality players Ashkan Dejagah and Hugo Rodallega as well as bona-fide sex god Dimitar Berbatov were brought in to help soften the blow, on paper it looked as though Fulham had clearly taken a step back. If that's truly the case, the results haven't really borne it out; while a draw with Southampton and a 3-0 loss to West Ham aren't all that impressive, a 5-0 throttling of Norwich and almost equally impressive 3-0 rout over West Brom sure are. Does Fulham look a threat to challenge for much higher than mid-table? Probably not, but they were 9th last season with Dempsey and Dembele, and on their day they're downright terrifying to face off against.

Fulham are a team that have gotten attacking contributions from all areas of the pitch, with even Steve-Flipping-Sidwell contributing two goals to the cause this season. That's not all that surprising from a Martin Jol team, especially considering the firepower at their disposal; Berbatov is the only real household name in the side (and he's certainly not the player he was in his prime, though he's still just lovely) but between Rodallega, Damien Duff and Mladen Petric, this isn't a side that looks to be in much danger of finding people to put the ball in the net. Taking the entire season into account it's the defense that's looked suspect, but in three games at the Cottage they've allowed only two goals and done so well in possession that it's been very difficult for the opposition to break them down.

That's bad news for Villa, because Fulham are exactly the kind of team they've struggled so much to deal with so far this season. The defense hasn't been bad for the most part, but they haven't looked like a unit that can be reliably counted on to keep the opposition off the board. Fulham seem a good bet to score a goal or two, and given Villa's struggles in the attacking phase that's going to make things tough. This team has struggled mightily to create much danger (especially in Stephen Ireland's absence) and playing away from home against a team that seems a good bet to control possession, the outlook isn't especially bright.

As per usual (over the course of the past month or so at least) the big question will be who is starting up top for Villa. Christian Benteke had his first game in a Villa shirt that could be described as poor against Spurs, but the idea of a Bent-Agbonlahor pairing or Bent playing up top alone by himself isn't especially palatable. Villa weren't set up to do much attacking against Tottenham which is defensible, but given the struggles they had to do much of anything with the ball it will be interesting to see how Paul Lambert responds; he more than anyone must now realize that this team isn't especially good (especially in the attacking phase) but what's the best way to attempt to compensate for their shortcomings?

It will be interesting (I guess?) to see. This is a tricky one for Villa, and it isn't a game that it's realistic to expect anything from. In my mind, that invites experimentation. Ever felt like going with a 4-3-3, or something even crazier, Mr. Lambert? The gap isn't wide enough to think it will lead to disaster or narrow enough to think you'll be throwing anything away. It might be worth a shot. I don't expect to see anything appreciably different,, and that's not too heavy a criticism of Lambert, but what we've seen from Villa so far shouldn't give anyone too much hope that such an approach is going to lead to much. This team is headed in the right direction, and if things keep humming along the way they're going then soon enough games against Fulham won't look to be such a difficult mountain to climb. But for now, that's not the case. And Villa can survive taking nothing from games like this one, so long as they can be competitive and show some improvement.

Offline whitejc

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2012, 08:29:25 AM »
Fulham v Villa: Aggressive Delph eager to "tackle" old pal Sidwell
Fabian Delph on Steve Sidwell.

Fabian Delph is relishing the chance to "tackle" old mate Steve Sidwell in the middle of the park this afternoon.

If Delph and Sidwell are selected today, it would mean a reunion for two players who were great pals at Villa.

Delph, who has made an impressive start to the season, is a firm admirer of Sidwell and thinks the special one-haired midfielder is a real asset for Fulham.

Delph believes both their games are similar, with plenty of bite evident during games.

Villa's central ace believes the midfield is an important area in the match at Craven Cottage this afternoon.

He said: "Siddie is a great lad. When I arrived at Villa he really welcomed me. He was great to have around the place as a personality and a good midfielder in the ranks too.

"He is a bit similar to myself football-wise - he likes to tackle! Although he is probably a bit better than me at tackling!

"He has got a lot of aggression in his play and so do I so I think we're alike in that aspect.

"I'm sure it will be a tough test in the middle of the park and one we have to master.

"I think Siddie has been playing the last few games for Fulham so whoever is selected to play on the day will be against him. It should be a good battle.",,10265~2953685,00.html?

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2012, 08:30:50 AM »
Harriers happy with Peniket progress despite lack of goals

ASSISTANT manager Gary Whild believes striker Richard Peniket is making progress with Kidderminster Harriers despite a lack of goals.

The 19-year-old, on loan from Premier League club Fulham until January, has made eight appearances for the Aggborough outfit without finding the net.

In the same time, the goals have been coming from the likes of team-mates Ryan Rowe, Anthony Malbon and Marvin Johnson.

But Whild is not overly concerned by the situation and just wants Peniket to keep working hard for the team, including in today’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round clash at Grimsby Town (3pm).

Peniket has been granted permission to play by his parent club as Harriers bid for their first win in the competition since the 2008-09 season when they reached the third round. Whild said: “I think Richard has done well and settled in here – he is a bright young lad and has some local roots being from Stourbridge.

“Other than stating the obvious in saying he’d like to have scored a few goals, I think he has made a decent contribution for us so far.
“He’s come here until January and Fulham want him to keep developing, which he has been doing.

“Richard is a young lad on loan from a Premier League side so I’m sure he’d tell you himself that he isn’t about to feature for them in the competition in the very near future.”

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Re: Saturday Fulham Stuff (20/10/12)...
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2012, 09:51:04 AM »
Fulham forwards Dimitar Berbatov and Mladen Petric have recovered from respective hip and calf injuries.
Mahamadou Diarra could also feature after a knee problem, but Bryan Ruiz is a doubt after suffering a groin injury on international duty last weekend.

Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland should return after missing three games with a broken bone in his wrist.
Joe Bennett will keep his place after recovering from a gashed leg, but Ciaran Clark is a slight injury doubt.

This fixture opened last season's campaign for these two clubs and they have enjoyed different fortunes since. The goalless draw was Martin Jol's first match in charge of Fulham and he has steadily built on the solid foundations at the club. He'll face a different Scotsman in the opposite dug out at Craven Cottage, as Paul Lambert looks for just his second league win since succeeding Alex McLeish.

It's been a tough challenge for the new Villa boss, with five points from 21 representing their worst start since 1986. There has to be a touch of realism to their expectations. Some of their new faces have come from lower divisions and some from abroad, and they have to be given time to gel and adjust to the demands of the top flight. They joined a squad that won just seven matches last season and recorded the club's worst Premier League points tally.

Scoring goals has been a problem and even Darren Bent has lost his place in recent weeks, while they'll be hoping that Christian Benteke can follow up his goal for Belgium against Scotland this week with another one in the Premeir League to help them get any sort of result.
That is far from straight forward at Craven Cottage though, where Fulham are traditionally strong and only four teams won last season. They also pushed the champions all the way in their last home game. They have won four matches already and will still be frustrated that figure isn't five after events at Southampton last time out.

I watched them win at Wigan last month and they look more of a threat in front of goal this season with the likes of Berbatov, Rodallega, Petric and Ruiz.

Villa haven't won away since January and will need to be at their very best to prevent Fulham having another profitable day in front of goal.

•   Fulham have only won three of their 22 Premier League meetings with Aston Villa. All of those victories have come at home.
•   The goalless draw between these sides on the opening day of last season was the fifth stalemate in their last eight encounters at Craven Cottage.

•   Fulham have won nine and drawn two of their 13 home matches in 2012, earning 29 points out of a possible 39.
•   Martin Jol's have scored 15 goals this season, a tally bettered only by Manchester United (17) prior to this weekend's matches.
•   However, they have already dropped eight points from winning positions - only Southampton (11 points) have a worse record.
•   Only Barcelona (66.7%) have a better shooting accuracy than Fulham (63.5%) across Europe's top five leagues this season.

Aston Villa
•   Five points after seven matches is Villa's worst start to a top-flight season since 1986-87, when they were relegated.
•   They are winless in their last 12 Premier League away matches spanning 10 months (D5, L7).
•   Only Sunderland and Norwich have scored fewer goals than the six mustered by Villa in their seven Premier League matches.
•   They have not conceded a first-half goal in their last five league matches - but let in eight second-half goals during that time.