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Fulham away at West Ham - Match Preview

last updated Friday 16th January 2009, 5:17 PM
West Ham v Fulham preview

East meets west as West Ham host Fulham on Sunday in what is – this week at least – a mid-table London derby.

The Hammers have found some form in recent weeks, with two wins, two draws and one defeat in their last five league games.

And, where only a few weeks ago it appeared that the squad would be stripped bare, the club now looks to be doing all it can to hold onto its star players.

Team West Ham Fulham
Games Played 21 19
Goal Attempts
Goals 26 18
Ave Goals per game 1.24 0.95
Shots (excl blocked shots) 218 187
% Shots on Target 43% 44%
% Goals to Shots 12% 10%
Passing
Short Passes 7,399 6,643
Long Passes 1,093 1,174
Overall Pass Completion % 79% 75%
Crossing
Total Crosses 461 432
Cross Completion % 25% 24%
Defending
Goals Conceded 30 14
Ave goals conceded per game 1.43 0.74
Tackles 472 427
Tackles Won % 74% 71%
Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions 1325 1237
Discipline
Fouls 290 225
Yellow Cards 35 18
Red Cards 2 1

And Valon Behrami – one of the players West Ham are apparently determined to retain – is eager to send out a message that they are a side on the way up against Fulham.

“It’s a big derby and will be a difficult game, but we are at home,” he told the club’s official website.

“It is the first of two home games for us and is a moment to do something more to change our situation. We have a big opportunity in front of us.”

Behrami, though, is aware of Fulham’s threat.

“They defend well and play on the counter-attack,” he said. “It will not be easy.”

‘Threat’, though, may not be quite the right word.

Roy Hodgson appears to have made his side almost unbeatable in recent months – they have lost only once since the 1-0 defeat to West Brom at the start of October – but, at the same time, their opponents have become almost as unbeatable.

Four of their last seven league games have been 0-0 draws, and two of the other three were score draws. The 3-0 win over Middlesbrough in that run looks to be a significant anomaly.

The odds of a no-score draw go up when you take into account Fulham’s Premier League away record this season: they have scored only two goals and conceded six, resulting in five draws and four defeats.

There is hope, however, as the team claimed their first away win of the season in the FA Cup game at Sheffield Wednesday at the start of the year - but defender Aaron Hughes feels it makes no difference where they play.

“I don’t think it really matters whether it’s home or away,” he told the club’s official website.

“The important thing is to try and pick up points every game you play.”

Fulham had last week’s game at home to Blackburn called off due to a frozen pitch, and Hughes believes that could give them an edge.

“With the game being on a Sunday and with us not having had the match last weekend, it means that we have an extra couple of days to put in a bit more work,” he said.

“We’re both in a little cluster of teams and I’m sure that West Ham would be looking at this game as one they should win but, if we want to maintain our form and keep going, we need to get a good result out of it.”

West Ham are still without Dean Ashton and Danny Gabbidon for the foreseeable future, while Fulham striker Diomansy Kamara is out for another month, but there are no fresh injury concerns.

Prediction: 0-0

Source Robin Hackett at Setanta Sport
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