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Fulham at home to Norwich :- Match Preview

last updated Saturday 18th August 2012, 1:42 PM


Fulham manager Martin Jol
Fulham manager
Martin Jol
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Martin Jol
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There's no denying these two performed admirably last season. Fulham's ninth-place finish, on the back of another managerial change, was as commendable as new-boys Norwich - just three places below them. For both, that has set the bar high this time around.

Fulham's summer has been one of fine-tuning - the squad is much the same as last year's. Pavel Pogrebnyak has gone, tempted by the Russian Revolution taking place down the M4 at Reading, but in Mladen Petric they have a fine replacement, honed by five years of battering Bundesliga defences. Hugo Rodallega is proven in the Premier League having given Wigan good service, and may just benefit from a change of scenery. The biggest shoes to fill though, for now, will be Danny Murphy's.

I say 'for now' because Fulham's biggest achievement this close season has been hanging on to the family jewels - namely Clint Dempsey. Imagining a Fulham side without him is difficult. With nearly 30 goals across the past two Premier League seasons, the likeable Texan has been the backbone of those consecutive top-ten finishes. Press reports suggest a move to Merseyside might still happen before the window shuts, so down by the Thames, every hour the window remains open will pass oh-so-slowly.

This could have been a difficult summer for Norwich. The pain of seeing Paul Lambert, who could do no wrong in Canary eyes, snatched away by Aston Villa may have been a difficult wound to heal had City chosen his replacement less wisely. There are few more popular figures in the game than Chris Hughton, and his arrival in Norfolk has been met warmly, as have a phalanx of high-calibre new arrivals - bolstered further just last night with Javier Garrido's loan from Lazio.

Michael Turner could thrive at Carrow Road - let's not forget it was only a handful of seasons ago he was being touted as future England material. He and Ryan Bennett, who debuted in this fixture last season, could forge an excellent and much-needed partnership in central defence, which was arguably the Canaries' weak spot last year. Robert Snodgrass has been on the Norwich radar for what seems like an eternity, and brings speed, dynamism and excellent set-pieces, while Jacob Butterfield was flying for Barnsley last year before injury intervened.

So what would qualify as success over the coming season? Fulham will fancy earning another European run, while for Norwich, few would back against Hughton building on Lambert's excellent foundations - Saturday will tell us plenty about what lies ahead.

    Head-to-head



  • Fulham have won both previous Premier League home matches against Norwich, including a 6-0 triumph at the end of the 2004-05 season that ultimately relegated their opponents.


  • In total, Fulham are unbeaten in their last 10 matches against Norwich in all competitions.


  • Norwich's last win at Craven Cottage was a 1-0 victory on New Year's Day 1986, Kevin Drinkell with the goal.


  • Fulham


  • Fulham have never lost a Premier League opening match at home (W3, D2).


  • The Cottagers have not lost the first game of a new season since losing 2-1 at Hull at start of the 2008-09 campaign.


  • The club won 10 of their home league matches last season, picking up 35 points - only the top six clubs in the division had better home records.


  • Martin Jol's men are unbeaten in their last four home games.

    Norwich


  • Norwich have only ever won one Premier League opening day fixture in five previous attempts - a 4-2 win at Arsenal on the first ever day of Premier League football in August 1992.


  • City have taken four points from the last six available to them on trips to London (3-3 v Arsenal and 2-1 v Spurs). Their 2-1 defeat at Fulham in March was their last loss in the capital.


  • The Canaries lost three of their last five matches at the end of last season, conceding 14 goals across all five games.


  • Norwich has conceded in each of their last 33 top flight away matches - a Premier League record. They last kept an away clean sheet came in a 0-0 draw at West Brom in October 2004.
























Source Dan O'Hagan at BBCSports
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