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Fulham at home to Blackburn ~ Match Preview

last updated Friday 09th September 2011, 10:03 PM

Fulham manager Maarten Jol
Fulham manager
Maarten Jol
Maarten Jol
History could be made at Craven Cottage. Blackburn have never lost their opening four league matches since helping found the Football League in 1888. They have already made their worst start since 1947-48 ,when they were relegated. And unless Fulham win, it will be the Londoners' worst Premier League start. Early pressure is rising.

But both managers need time to bed in the new arrivals. Fulham have strengthened their defence with 31-year-old Zdenek Grygera. But it's at the other end where they needed support for Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora, who got the winner in this fixture last season with an 89th-minute penalty.

The £10.6m spent on Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz is a big gamble, but he scored 33 goals in 61 league games in two very good years at FC Twente and I'll take Fulham to start moving up the table quickly, even if the Europa League campaign will be a drain.

Clint Dempsey has a good scoring record in this fixture. If he plays, don't be surprised if he gets the winner. Only Liverpool have notched an away league win at the Cottage this year and I can't see Rovers pulling it off. They've only kept one clean sheet on their travels in 22 games, and 12 points from their last 17 matches is relegation form.

Scott Dann is an excellent signing who will shore up their defence. Serbian midfielder Radosav Petrovic went into the 2010 World Cup with top clubs chasing him, while David Goodwillie had enough talent to be named Scotland's Young Player of the Year. And Montenegro international Simon Vukcevic rediscovered his form at Sporting Lisbon after tantrums at Saturn in Russia.

But can Steve Kean harness that talent and answer the biggest riddle of them all? Will he be able to turn Yakubu into the bustling striker he was before his 2008 Achilles injury? If he can, Rovers have a goalscorer to steer them away from danger. It's a big if!

  • Blackburn have lost only two of their last 10 games against Fulham, although they have been beaten on their last two trips to Craven Cottage, conceding a total of six goals. This fixture has not produced a goalless draw since 1983 when the sides met at Ewood Park in a Division Two game. Fulham have kept clean sheets in 10 of their last 16 competitive games (including Europa League qualifiers). However, they have conceded four goals in their last two league games.

  • This will be their 12th match of the season.

  • Fulham's only home league defeat in 2011 is their 5-2 loss to Liverpool on 9 May.

  • Damien Duff needs one more goal to reach 50 in the Premier League.

  • Rovers have lost their opening three Premier League games for the first time.

  • The last time they began a top-flight season with three successive defeats was in 1947-48, when they were eventually relegated. That year they drew their fourth game 0-0.

  • Victory would give Rovers their 300th away win in the top flight.

  • Blackburn have lost seven of their last 10 away league games (W1, D2, L7). Their only win was the 3-2 victory at Wolves on the final day of last season.

Source BBCSports
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