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Fulham at home to Stoke ~ Match Preview

last updated Friday 10th February 2012, 1:11 PM

Fulham manager Martin Jol
Fulham manager
Martin Jol
Martin Jol
It is going to be a memorable week for Stoke City whatever happens at Craven Cottage, with Spanish giants Valencia arriving in the Potteries on Thursday for the first leg of their Europa League tie, but manager Tony Pulis is likely to emphasise to his players that what they do against Fulham may have more long-term significance for the club.

After the trip to west London, Stoke have a tricky FA Cup tie away to League Two leaders Crawley sandwiched between the two legs against Valencia so Pulis will be keen they end their recent poor league form before thoughts return to the possible glory which awaits in Europe.

It's a strange quirk that Stoke's progress in the Premier League has actually slowed since the Europa League was put into cold storage for the winter. They've lost their last three league matches and have only averaged a point-per-game since the group phase ended in mid-December and Pulis's men were spared the regular trips to the outer reaches of the continent.

With trips to Chelsea and Tottenham plus a home match with Manchester City coming up in March, Stoke can't take their safety for granted - Pulis has always said that reaching the usual safety target of 40 points is the prime concern and a couple of glamorous nights against Valencia won't change his opinion.

Fulham would have joined Stoke in the Europa League this week had they not dramatically collapsed at home to Odense in their final group game but since that night of numbing disappointment things have gradually improved at Craven Cottage.

Manager Martin Jol is starting to put his own imprint on the squad, something which could be emphasised by the debut of Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, who arrived from Stuttgart on transfer deadline day to replace the departed Bobby Zamora.

It will be hoped that Pogrebnyak can prevent over-reliance on Clint Dempsey; the Texan has scored two hat-tricks since the turn of the year and his importance to a traditionally low-scoring team cannot be overstated. Last season's meeting finished in a 2-0 success for Fulham thanks to a Dempsey brace and current form suggests there may be a repeat this time.


  • Fulham and Stoke have each won three of the seven Premier League games played between the sides.

  • Stoke's only win in their last six visits to Fulham came in May 2010 when Matthew Etherington scored the game's only goal.

  • Fulham

  • Fulham have won four of their last six home league matches, with their only defeat in that time being 5-0 against Manchester United.

  • The club have not lost a Premier League match at Craven Cottage in February since a 1-0 defeat by West Ham in 2008.

  • They have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight matches, conceding 17 goals.

  • New signing Pavel Pogrebnyak scored 17 goals in 76 Bundesliga matches for Stuttgart, but his only goal this season was a penalty.

  • Stoke

  • The Potters have only won one of their last eight league matches, taking six points out of a possible 24.

  • They have scored 23 goals in 24 league matches - only Wigan (21) have a lower tally.

  • According to Opta, Stoke have had the fewest shots (238) in the Premier League this season, as well as the lowest shooting accuracy (34%).

  • Matthew Etherington is poised to make his 100th league appearance for the club.

  • Peter Crouch could become the first player to score against Fulham for four different Premier League clubs, having done so for Liverpool, Portsmouth and Tottenham.

Source Nigel Adderley at BBCSports
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