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Fulham v Man City - Match Preview

last updated Friday 19th September 2003, 5:05 PM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman Fulham have not played at home since their opening day victory over Middlesbrough but they do have a 100% home record under Chris Coleman having won all four games that he has presided over at Loftus Road.

Chris Coleman believes his players have finally broken free from the shackles of last season when the Jean Tigana and Craven Cottage sagas created the worst atmosphere he had known at the club.

The Cottagers were dogged by months of uncertainty over Tigana's position before chairman Mohamed Al Fayed eventually axed him in April. The abandonment of their traditional home at Craven Cottage for a temporary one at QPR's Loftus Road was followed by them finishing the season six points above the drop zone in 14th place.

But this campaign has been a different story with Coleman, appointed on a full-time basis in the summer, confounding the critics to lead the Londoners to two wins and a draw in their first four games. The club have confirmed plans to return to the Cottage next term.

Coleman, whose side face Manchester City and their former Fulham boss Kevin Keegan at Loftus Road, said: "Last season was the worst atmosphere I've known at the club.

"There was all the talk of Jean staying or not staying and also the talk about going back to the Cottage. Although we tried, it was impossible to keep that away from the players in the dressing room.

"There was a lot of uncertainty and stuff going on. Certain people were hiding behind it and we got bogged down in it.

"So at the start of this season, there was a lot of negativity around the club - although I never thought there'd be a landslide of players leaving and losing games.

"But we wiped the slate clean and tried to make that negativity work for us. The pressure's off us because we're expected to go down. We were written off but had a decent start and if we go about our business like we have done, we'll be okay.

Keegan is not the only familiar face returning to west London because Claudio Reyna, who controversially pulled out of a summer transfer to Fulham after being photographed in the club jersey, will be with the City party.

The former Sunderland midfielder can expect a fiery reception from the Cottagers' faithful. Source: soccernet
The Cottage on Loftus Road -
Premiership 20 Sep 03
Fulham Man City
Games played 4 5
Goals 9 12
Goals per game 2.25 2.4
Shots 53 71
Shots per game 13 14
Shooting accuracy % 47% 49%
Shots on target per game 6 7
Goals-to-shots % 17% 15%
Short passes 1,106 1,189
Long passes 410 663
Total passes 1,516 1,852
Pass completion % 72% 72%
Pass completed per game 1092 1333
Crosses 83 106
Cross completion % 31% 24%
Cross completed per game 6 5
Goals conceded 7 6
Goals conceded per game 1.75 1.2
Tackles 157 151
Tackles won % 75% 70%
Tackles completed per game 29 21
Fouls 66 57
Yellow cards 11 9
Fouls per Yellow card 6 6
Red cards 1 0

Cipher's stats extract shows that offensively Fulham are just a fraction behind Man City, widely regarded as one of the most attacking teams in the Premiership. When shooting and accuracy are compared the Manchester squad are only putting in one shot a game more than Fulham even though they have had three home games to The Cottagers' one. In terms of goals Coleman's team are again only a hairs breadth behind with all the increased difficulties of scoring away from home that they have had to face..

The Cottagers are not as active in terms of passing as they were last season with only 5 teams making less passes however their tackling rates remain high with 15 teams making less tackles. Man City have made more passes so far but interestingly the major part of the excess is in long passes, 60% more than Fulham

On crosses City make some 30% more than The Cottagers but fortunately a poorer completion rate means that on a game by game basis The Mancunians manage 5 completed crosses while Fulham manage 6.

Suprisingly Man City seem to be better defensively having conceeded less goals than Fulham. They have also made less fouls and received less yellows than Fulham

Overall the stats seem to be well balanced with Fulham perhaps benefiting from home advantage.

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Man City Boss The stats for the clash with Fulham suggest that the result of the game, in favour of City, will depend on French marksman Nicolas Anelka
Kevin Keegan takes his Manchester City side to former club Fulham looking to maintain their early season form, which sees them occupy third place in the table – their best ever start to a Premiership season.

These clubs have been in different divisions for the last three occasions that City have travelled to Fulham with last season being the first time that the teams have met in the Premiership.

A Nicolas Anelka goal sealed the points at Loftus Road just after Christmas last year while City notched their biggest won of the season over the Cottagers in the return game at Maine Road.

City’s recent away record is also impressive having won the last four Premiership games on their travels so on Saturday something has to give.

Anelka is the man of the moment for City following Sunday’s hat-trick against Aston Villa. The much travelled striker now leads the way at the top of the Premiership goalscorers chart alongside Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham.

Anelka has had more attempts at goal than any other player in the Premiership so far this season and if he continues in this manner it is only a matter of time before he beats his total of 14 goals last season.

Source: Opta
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