Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Weather forecast across the UK is pretty dire for the next couple of days and all games must be in some doubt, even if the groundsmen do not have problems with the playing surface, the safety officer and police are likely to have an issue with areas around the grounds.
Having said all that, I am interested in a couple of matches, so will put one preview on now and keep my fingers crossed that the match goes ahead.
STOKE CITY - FULHAM
This is an important game in City's season, they are without a win in six league outings and need three points to steady the ship. After such an encouraging start to their campaign, the last thing they need now is to be dragged into a relegation battle and a victory this evening, would make an enormous difference, not only would it give them a six point cushion over the drop zone, but take them into the top ten, which would be a real psychological boost.
To be fair to them, they have faced four difficult road trips in that six game sequence, including matches at Arsenal, Villa and Manchester City, all top six sides and had enough chances to have won the two home starts against Wigan and Birmingham. They would have received a boost of sorts from a cup win at the weekend, albeit against non league opposition and remain strong at the Brittania Stadium, where they have lost just four of 18 EPL starts.
Fulham are very comfortable in their upper mid table position and it is difficult to see them finishing anywhere other than 8th-10th this season, almost regardless of what happens on the pitch, however crazy that might sound ! That and a long run in Europe or the FA Cup would be considered a fantastic campaign for well respected coach Roy Hodgson, who has just been rewarded with an improved new "rolling " contract.
The visitors still struggle to win on the road, taking maximum points just four times in 28 starts away from the capital and are without a clean sheet in 13 away games in all competitions. They will once again set out to frustrate the opposition, be happy with 0-0 and delighted to pinch a goal. I expect City to be more adventurous and to make the majority of the running, they lost just 4 of 18 here in 2009, winning a very healthy 50% of those, numbers which kept them in the top flight last season and will probably do so again, if they can get a little more good fortune in front of goal. Not many goals in prospect here, just one in the two meetings last season and I see this as 0-0 or 1-0 too, so "under"is tempting, but I prefer the home team off level ball.
6.5 points Stoke City level ball 1.94 asian line.