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  • 26 December 2010
  • • 12:00
  • • Craven Cottage, London
  • Referee: M. Halsey
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Fulham - West Ham Preview: Relegation threatens both sides but Avram Grant is fighting for his job

Fulham - West Ham Preview: Relegation threatens both sides but Avram Grant is fighting for his job

TEAM NEWS

Fulham


Mark Hughes has no new injury concerns as Bobby Zamora and Philippe Senderos both remain long-term casualties.

Moussa Dembele, however, has made swift progress on his ankle injury sustained during international duty in November. The forward, who had showed promise in the early stages of the season, has been training this week and he is likely to undergo a fitness test to determine whether he can take part in the match.

Hughes will feel aggrieved after his side failed to score in their last outing against Sunderland two weeks ago, and the Fulham boss could be tempted to stick to a similar formation and personnel against Avram Grant’s side.

Possible starting XI: Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido; Davies; Murphy, Etuhu, Dempsey; Gera; Kamara.

West Ham

A huge boost for Grant will be the return of first-choice goalkeeper Rob Green, who missed West Ham’s last match against Blackburn Rovers.

Valon Behrami and Victor Obinna are also set for a return after missing out at Ewood Park, and with the latter being an influential part in any of West Ham’s attacking play this term, Grant should be confident pairing two forwards together.

Zavon Hines, Lars Jacobsen and Radoslav Kovac all missed the trip to Blackburn but are now in contention for featuring on Boxing Day.

21-year-old Freddie Sears has been called back from his loan spell at Championship side Scunthorpe United this week and the striker, who failed to score in nine games with the Irons, may feature at Craven Cottage.

Jack Collison, Manuel Da Costa, Mark Noble and Thomas Hitzlsperger are all sidelined until next year.

Probable starting XI: Green; Ben Haim, Tomkins, Upson, Gabbidon; Barrera; Behrami, Parker, Boa Morte; Obinna, Piquionne.

One’s rock bottom, while the other looks over their shoulder

West Ham have managed a pitiful two league wins all season and even worse news for Grant is both of those victories came at Upton Park. The Israeli’s side prop up the Premier League and have almost no chance of getting out of the relegation zone, even if they pick up three points, due to a -15 goal difference.

Meanwhile, Hughes has also only guided his side to two league wins so far, but those six points have been acquired at Craven Cottage and it is Fulham’s tendency to draw games which leaves them only just out of the bottom three on goal difference.

16 months and counting…

West Ham have not won away since last August, which came against Wolves on the opening day of the season.

While Grant’s side have failed to pick up three points in a single a game on the road this term, their four draws suggest only a resilience is needed to perhaps start pushing up the table.

In this fixture last season, both teams played out a thrilling second half, which saw four goals after the restart and Fulham eventually ran out 3-2 winners.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
23Mark SchwarzerGoalkeeper
18Aaron HughesDefender
-Brede HangelandDefender
3C. SalcidoDefender
4John PaintsilDefender
20Dickson EtuhuMidfielder
13Danny MurphyMidfielder
29Simon DaviesMidfielder
11Zoltán GeraMidfielder
8Andy JohnsonStriker
2Clint DempseyStriker
-David StockdaleGoalkeeper
6Chris BairdDefender
5Rafik HallicheDefender
16Damien DuffMidfielder
7Eddie JohnsonStriker
27Jonathan GreeningMidfielder
-Diomansy KamaraStriker
1Robert GreenGoalkeeper
19Danny GabbidonDefender
5James TomkinsDefender
20Matthew UpsonDefender
-Radoslav KovacDefender
26Tal Ben HaimDefender
46Junior StanislasStriker
28Scott ParkerMidfielder
9Carlton ColeStriker
39Frédéric PiquionneStriker
40Freddie SearsStriker
-Ruud BoffinGoalkeeper
23H. IlungaDefender
23Jonathan SpectorMidfielder
2Winston ReidDefender
-Frank NoubleStriker
17Pablo Edson BarreraStriker
33Victor Nsofor ObinnaStriker
Players to Watch
Clint Dempsey
Clint Dempsey
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 2
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The forward beat Rob Green in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, which was the first time the two had faced each other since the goalkeeper’s World Cup blunder against USA in South Africa. The American has looked a constant threat in attack for Hughes’ side, particularly in the absence of Zamora and Dembele, and he could heap further misery on West Ham.
Victor Nsofor Obinna
Victor Nsofor Obinna
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 33
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The Nigerian was sorely missed against Blackburn in West Ham’s last outing and with the forward likely to return, he will be a threat to Fulham’s defence. Expect this man to be at the heart of any promising attack conjured up by the visitors on Sunday.
Prediction
All roads lead to a draw, with West Ham getting a point from four away matches so far and Fulham being held to a stalemate on five occasions this term, this looks destined to be a split tie. Grant's men will be encouraged by escaping from the seige at Ewood Park with a point and they could stifle the hosts at Craven Cottage.
Editor's Prediction
Fulham 1

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