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Fulham away at Swansea ~ Match Preview

last updated Thursday 08th December 2011, 7:11 PM

Fulham manager Martin Jol
Fulham manager
Martin Jol
Martin Jol
Fulham travel to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday boosted by their recent upturn in fortunes.

4 points from games against Arsenal (away) and a win against the victims from Liverpool has given the Whites a bit of breathing space, but they need to maintain their standards if they are to pick up anything from their trip to Wales.

Swansea are a force at home, where they starve the opposition of possession and rarely concede. That philosophy is unusual for a promoted club, but gives Fulham some hope as they tend to perform better against teams that get the ball down and play.

That both clubs face each other in the Premier League is remarkable, given their regular jousts in the lower divisions in the late 80s and early 90s when both were staring down the barrel of extinction.

17 years ago, a last day defeat to Swansea (2-1 at the Vetch Field) consigned Fulham to relegation to the 4th division for the first time in their history. That fateful day (May 7th 1994) was the culmination of years of decline and despite the tears of that day, in retrospect it signalled the start of a slow regeneration process.

The much maligned Ian Branfoot was quickly installed as the new Fulham boss and brought with him a number of experienced campaigners from Southampton, including the now legendary Micky Adams.

Adams was in charge at the Cottage the last time Fulham and Swansea crossed swords in league action in 1997. Fulham did the double over the Swans that season with a pair of 2-1 wins as they marched to promotion.

I remember the 2-1 win at the Cottage in Feb '97 well. Fulham's promotion charge appeared to be coming off the rails, they had suffered back to back defeats (1-4 v Cardiff and 0-2 at Lincoln) and found themselves 1-0 down.

Darren Freeman changed the mood of the majority of the 4,836 crowd when he equalised after 64 minutes (if my memory serves me right, he swept home a curling shot whilst lying on the ground). Paul Brooker secured the 3 points with a late winner and Fulham went on to get promoted.

More recently (2009), Fulham by now established in the Premier League beat Swansea 2-1 in an FA Cup replay at the Cottage after a 1-1 draw in Wales.

Martin Jol seems to have finally settled on his preferred formation with 3 advanced midfielders (Dembele, Ruiz and Dempsey) supporting a lone striker (Zamora), but his plans have taken a big blow with the injury to captain Murphy.

The absence of Murphy piles more responsibility on the rejuvenated Dickson Etuhu who will have his hands full trying to break up the pretty patterns weaved by Allen, Britton, Gower et al. But the biggest threat for Fulham will undoubtedly come from the flying wingers Lloyd Dyer and Scott Sinclair.

Jon Arne Riise is beginning to re-acquaint himself with the rigours of PL football and has managed to deal with the raw pace of Walcott and Bellamy in recent weeks. The Norwegian and back up right back Stephen Kelly will need to be on the top of their game if Fulham are to maintain their steady rise up the table.

Prediction: Swansea 1-1 Fulham

Paul Browne

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