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Premier League

  • 30 October 2010
  • • 15:00
  • • Craven Cottage, London
  • Referee: M. Atkinson
  • • Attendance: 25448

Fulham - Wigan Athletic Preview: James McCarthy out for visitors as Andy Johnson nears Cottagers return

Fulham - Wigan Athletic Preview: James McCarthy out for visitors as Andy Johnson nears Cottagers return



Andy Johnson could be available for Mark Hughes after successfully coming through a behind-closed-doors friendly, although the Welshman might give it another week or two before he brings the former Crystal Palace man into the rotation.

Elsewhere, Hughes can look to deploy Moussa Dembele in his forward line and has no further injury worries to concern himself with as he looks to get an all-important win.

Possible starting line-up: Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Salcido; Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff; Dempsey, Dembele.

Wigan Athletic

Manager Roberto Martinez will be without James McCarthy for the rest of 2010, after he was stretchered off with a knee injury in last weekend's draw with Bolton Wanderers.

"The whole joint needs a bit of work and the medial ligament is ruptured completely," Martinez said. "We expect it to be between 10 and 12 weeks before we see James back. We have to reconstruct the joint just to make sure the ligament heals well and to make sure there are no further problems."

The Spaniard will not be welcoming Gary Caldwell back into action either, as he refuses to rush the Scot after a long injury lay-off. Other than that, he can look forward to returning his side to full strength after midweek success in the League Cup. Mauro Boselli's first goal in English football might give the manager another positive headache to ponder.

Possible starting line-up: Al-Habsi; Boyce, Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa; N'Zogbia, Thomas, Diame, Gomez, Rodallega; Di Santo.

Flaws in the plan

For the opening weekends of the season, Fulham were seemingly happy to revel in their status as the only unbeaten side in the table. But now that record has been broken, all that is left is a lot of draws and a worryingly low position in the table.

Alarm bells won't be ringing just yet for Mark Hughes, but he will want a timely three points to boost his position and kick-start the current campaign. That being said, Wigan will be no easy matter.

Fortunately for Hughes, he will be boosted by the knowledge that he has a striking ranks beginning to return to some strength after the long-term injury to Bobby Zamora. Moussa Dembele is back and available after a sprightly start, while Andy Johnson could also become an increasing option behind the erstwhile Clint Dempsey as time progresses.

Hughes will be looking for his side to sustain their performance over the entire 90 minutes, after seeming to peak early in recent times. Their last three league goals have come before the 33rd minute, and worryingly they have kept just two clean sheets in their last 13 games. But they are unbeaten in their last seven clashes with Wigan, which will be cause for some confidence — although five of those have been draws.


Wigan are quickly growing into the enigma of the Premier League this season. After losing horrifically to Blackpool on the opening day, they snatched an impressive 1-0 victory against Spurs at White Hart Lane and have since had a smattering of decent results.

After an abject start they now find themselves 15th in the table, and will be looking to push even higher against a Fulham side hardly in top form.

A midweek League Cup triumph against Swansea will have boosted confidence, if not fitness levels, ahead of the trip to Craven Cottage, but Martinez will want to see more attacking intent from his side. The Latics have had just 130 touches in the opposition area to date this season, the lowest of any side, and have also averaged fewer corners per game too (8.2).

Can Hugo Rodallega, Franco di Santo and Jordi Gomez improve on that, starting this weekend? Martinez will certainly be hoping so, although he will know Fulham will be no pushovers.

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Fulham FC FUL
Fulham FC Fulham
Wigan Athletic FC WIG
Wigan Athletic FC Wigan Athletic

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Fulham FC FUL
0 - 0
Wigan Athletic FC WIG
Fulham FC FUL
1 - 0
Wigan Athletic FC WIG
Fulham FC FUL
2 - 1
Wigan Athletic FC WIG