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Premier League

  • 15 September 2012
  • • 15:00
  • • Craven Cottage, London
  • Referee: R. East
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Fulham - West Brom Preview: Berbatov looks to end Baggies' unbeaten start

Fulham - West Brom Preview: Berbatov looks to end Baggies' unbeaten start

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The Bulgarian striker is expected to make his first start for the Cottagers but comes up against a visiting side who have started well under new boss Steve Clarke

  PROBABLE LINEUPS

FULHAM

Schwarzer
Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise

Duff, Diarra, Sidwell, Richardson
Petric, Berbatov
WEST BROM

Foster
Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell

Yacob, Mulumbu
Dorrans, Morrison, Odemwingie
Long

Dimitar Berbatov is in line to make his first Fulham start, with forward Bryan Ruiz (hamstring) still recovering from injury.

Greece’s joint record appearance holder Giorgos Karagounis and fellow midfielder Ashkan Dejagah could make their debuts after their transfers from Panathinaikos and Wolfsburg respectively.

Attacker Kerim Frei (pelvis) is doubtful, while centre back Philippe Senderos (foot) is unavailable.

Meanwhile, West Brom could be without right back Steven Reid (hamstring), with Billy Jones his potential replacement.

Goran Popov could instead make his debut at left-back following his arrival from Dynamo Kyiv, with the remaining defenders moved across accordingly.

Winger Jerome Thomas out after surgery (knee), and midfielder Zoltan Gera is doubtful (Achilles), but striker Romelu Lukaku (ankle) could feature after recovering from injury.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Fulham recorded the most points at home of any Premier League team outside the top six last season, and have lost just one of their last 11 league matches at Craven Cottage.
  • West Brom meanwhile have enjoyed their best start to a top flight season since 1978-79, with two wins and a draw, and have lost just one of their last eight Premier League matches.
  • The Cottagers are unbeaten in their last 13 home matches against the Baggies, but the fixture last season ended in a 1-1 draw, while the game between the two at the Hawthorns finished 0-0.
  • All six goals Martin Jol’s side have conceded so far this season have been netted in the first half.
  • The west London side have the best shooting accuracy in the Premier League so far, with 80% of attempts on target.
  • The Midlands outfit have blocked 18 opposition shots, more than any other team in the top flight.
  • Zoltan Gera (pictured right) returned to West Brom from Fulham last summer, having previously signed for the west London side in 2008. In his first year with the Midlands club in 2004-05 he helped the Baggies avoid relegation on the final day of the season, playing alongside the then on-loan Kieran Richardson, who scored on the day.
  • Winger Damien Duff played under newly-appointed Baggies manager Steve Clarke at Chelsea from 2003-2006 while Clarke was youth coach and then assistant manager at the Blues, winning two Premier League titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06 before leaving for Newcastle.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
23Mark SchwarzerGoalkeeper
3J. RiiseDefender
-Brede HangelandDefender
6Chris BairdDefender
18Aaron HughesDefender
20Sascha RietherMidfielder
4Steve SidwellMidfielder
31Alexander KacaniklicMidfielder
9Dimitar BerbatovStriker
16Damien DuffMidfielder
20Hugo RodallegaStriker
-David StockdaleGoalkeeper
2Stephen KellyDefender
17Matthew BriggsDefender
-Alex SmithDefender
10Pajtim KasamiMidfielder
14Georgios KaragounisMidfielder
42Marcello TrottaStriker
1Ben FosterGoalkeeper
3Jonas OlssonDefender
6Liam RidgewellDefender
23Gareth McAuleyDefender
-Billy JonesDefender
5Claudio YacobMidfielder
7James MorrisonMidfielder
21Youssouf MulumbuMidfielder
24Shane LongStriker
9Peter OdemwingieStriker
28Marc-Antoine FortuneStriker
13B. MyhillGoalkeeper
25Craig DawsonDefender
11Chris BruntMidfielder
17Graham DorransMidfielder
11Zoltán GeraMidfielder
9Markus RosenbergStriker
17Romelu LukakuStriker
Players to Watch
Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Berbatov
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 9
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The Bulgarian become joint Premier League top scorer in 2010-11 at Manchester United but saw little game time last season, and on transfer deadline day was reunited with Martin Jol, his former boss at Tottenham.

His late arrival boosted morale at Craven Cottage following the sale of Moussa Dembele, whose influence the Cottagers will expect to replace through the 31-year-old’s elegant style of play.
James Morrison
James Morrison
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 7
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 0 0
The midfielder has played a key role operating behind the lone striker in new manager Steve Clarke’s formation, and has already added to his five goals of last season with a late equaliser against Tottenham.

The 26-year-old endured a disappointing international break as Scotland drew both their home matches, but will be central to the Baggies’ attack as they hope to supply their pacey forwards and continue their excellent start to the season.
Prediction

Martin Jol’s side have a good record at Craven Cottage, but the late sale of Moussa Dembele caused great disruption to a team which has had little time to adjust to the loss of his influential presence in midfield.

Meanwhile, Steve Clarke’s team have got off to an excellent start, and with pace and power up front and on the flanks, the Baggies could represent dangerous opposition for the Cottagers.
Editor's Prediction
Fulham 1

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