Fulham - Stoke City Preview: Both sides aiming to push on from mid-table wilderness
The Potters travel to west London hoping to improve on their dismal away record, while Martin Jol's men search for inspiration after just three wins in 18 Premier League matches
By Scott Binnie
Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise
Duff, Frimpong, Sidwell, Emanuelson
Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson
Kightly, N'Zonzi, Whelan, Etherington
Fulham boss Martin Jol is set to be without Mahamadou Diarra once more, with Emmanuel Frimpong and Giorgos Karagounis left to compete for a place in midfield alongside Steve Sidwell.
The Cottagers may stick with Hugo Rodallega up front and Dimitar Berbatov in support, as they did against Norwich, though Urby Emanuelson could come in for Bryan Ruiz on the wing.
Kieran Richardson (calf) faces a late test but probably will not make the starting line-up, but Kerim Frei and Simon Davies are still out. In defence Sascha Riether (illness) should return, while Chris Baird (illness) may make the bench.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis includes Marc Wilson and January signing Brek Shea in his squad after both players recovered from long-term injuries, with the former likely to be handed his first start since suffering a broken leg against Sunderland in October.
Jon Walters should continue in an attacking role behind Peter Crouch, but Cameron Jerome (knee) is also pushing to be fit in time. Michael Owen, however, is a major doubt following a thigh injury picked up in training.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Fulham’s 0-0 draw with Norwich City last week was their first clean sheet for 12 games.
- The Cottagers have won just three times in 18 matches since October, securing victory in only one of their last five.
- Dimitar Berbatov (pictured right) is set to make his 200th Premier League appearance and is set to become the first Bulgarian to do so, while the Cottagers are unbeaten when the striker has scored this season (W3 D3).
- Stoke are the only side that Fulham defender Chris Baird has scored more than one Premier League goal against (2).
- Tony Pulis' men's last clean sheet was in December, a run of eight matches which only Aston Villa (10) have exceeded.
- The Potters have recorded just one win away from home this season, a joint-low for the league, netting just three goals in their last eight away league games.
- They have also the team to have been involved in the most draws this season (12).
- This is the 70th meeting of the sides. Fulham have won 28 times, Stoke 15 times and there have been 26 draws.
- The clubs met in Division Two, now League One, just 14 years ago when Fulham won both games 1-0 and went on to win the league with a stunning 101 points.
- The last four meetings between the two teams have all ended in home wins.
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Top 3 Predictions
Fulham 1-1 Stoke City
- 25.42 %
Fulham 2-1 Stoke City
- 17.44 %
Fulham 2-0 Stoke City
- 8.19 %
|Premier League (EPL)||5 Oct 2013||Fulham 1 - Stoke City 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||23 Feb 2013||Fulham 1 - Stoke City 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||24 Nov 2012||Stoke City 1 - Fulham 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||11 Feb 2012||Fulham 2 - Stoke City 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||15 Oct 2011||Stoke City 2 - Fulham 0|
|8 Dec 2013||Fulham 2 - Aston Villa 0||EPL|
|4 Dec 2013||Fulham 1 - Tottenham 2||EPL|
|30 Nov 2013||West Ham 3 - Fulham 0||EPL|
|23 Nov 2013||Fulham 1 - Swansea City 2||EPL|
|9 Nov 2013||Liverpool 4 - Fulham 0||EPL|
|3||John Arne Riise||Defender|
The Bulgarian forward has the ability to go from casual bystander to crucial match-winner in a split second, and that's exactly what Fulham need. The Cottagers netted three against West Ham on January 30 but aside from that haven't scored more than once in a game since January 1, the ex-Manchester United man can provide that something special.
The usually solid Stoke defence have failed to keep a clean sheet since the 0-0 FA Cup draw with Crystal Palace at the beginning of January, and have been particularly shaky on the road. The former Chelsea centre-back, who played well and scored in the 2-1 win over Reading, needs to lead from the back and help the Potters re-find their unmovable wall.
Fulham probably go into this one as slight favourites, with Stoke's away record anything but enviable, however the Cottagers themselves have been lacking in firepower as well as being far from convincing at the back. This game has draw written all over it.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed