Monday night’s English Premier League encounter between Fulham and Newcastle United pairs two sides who feel they should be achieving much more but who have been dogged by inconsistency so far this season.
Fulham find themselves in mid-table as most observers would have expected to see them, but after a promising start to the campaign they are currently on a winless run of seven games and a goalless streak of three on the bounce. The Craven Cottage fans are used to seeing Fulham dominate their home fixtures which is usually their saving grace each year, but in recent weeks they’ve tamely surrendered to both Sunderland and Tottenham at their west London home.
Manager Martin Jol must be deeply concerned with his team’s toothless attack in the last month and matters won’t be improved this evening by the loss of Bryan Ruiz to injury. The alternatives are thin on the ground and Jol will be hoping to keep a tight back line, boosted by the probable return of Brede Hangeland, and grind out a result against the Magpies.
Newcastle themselves are hardly setting the Premier League alight as they were at this stage last season when they confounded everyone on their way to an impressive 5th place finish. The attacking spark and defensive solidity that were their hallmarks last year have been missing to date this campaign. Manager Alan Pardew will be hoping for a good result tonight to kick-start their rise up the League table and put them into contention for a European qualification spot once again.
Indeed, one of the reasons for the disjointed feel to the season so far for the Geordies can be attributed to the Thursday/Sunday fixture schedule imposed on them by their participation in the Europa League. They aren’t the first and won’t be the last club to find this a hindrance in the early part of a League season.
Injuries too have played a big part in Newcastle’s inconsistent form and although they recorded a much needed victory at home to Wigan in their last fixture, they are still to win away in any competition this season. Pardew will be hoping to change this statistic at Craven Cottage tonight but will be crossing his fingers that stars such as Cheick Tiote, Davide Santon, Hatem Ben Arfa and top scorer Demba Ba can all shake off slight niggles to take their place in Newcastle’s starting line-up.
Current form and injuries to key players on both sides don’t augur well for a classic encounter but if Newcastle can field some of their better quality players they may just be able to come out on top and leapfrog their hosts into 13th place in the table.
Prediction: Fulham 0-1 Newcastle United
Where To Watch Online: Newcastle United vs. Fulham FC