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Fulham v Middlesbrough - Match Preview

last updated Thursday 16th January 2003, 12:54 PM
Fulham Manager Jean Tigana Fulham need a spark and the return of Louis Saha could be just the ticket. He was highly impressive against Birmingham in the FA Cup in his comeback match, and he now needs to repeat that sort of form in the Barclaycard Premiership.

'Little Louis' was Jean Tigana's first signing after he joined the London club. Tigana described Saha as "the new Thierry Henry" and the young Frenchman has lighting pace and a real eye for the openings in and around the opposition box.

On his Premiership debut for Fulham he scored twice away to Manchester United, though it was not enough to prevent a 3-2 defeat for the Cottagers. However, he soon found goals more difficult to come by, as Fulham started to struggle in the top flight. By the end of the season he had only scored six more goals, though the burden had been lifted by the arrival of Steve Marlet.

Now Saha, fit again and raring to go, has the opportunity to finally establish himself as a top Premiership striker; he has found the net three times this season, but has been plagued by injury.

A goal against Boro would be a good way to start, and would be priceless for the struggling London club.

Latest League Table
Latest Form Table
Latest Squad Stats
Latest disciplinary Stats
Craven Cottage on Loftus Rd
- Premiership 19 Jan 03
Fulham Boro Div
Games Played 22 23 22
Goals 23 27 28
Ave Goals Per Game 1.1 1.2 1.3
Shots (excluding blocked shots) 238 223 248
Ave Shots Per Game 11 10 11
Ave Shots on Target Per Game 5 4 5
% Shots On Target 46% 39% 43%
% Goals To Shots 10% 12% 11%
Short Passes 6019 5981 5811
Long Passes 2742 2677 2720
Total Passes 8761 8658 8531
Ave Passes Per Game 398 376 388
% Overall Passes Completed 71% 75% 72%
Ave passes completed
per game
283 282 279
Total Crosses 472 540 524
Ave Crosses Per Game 21 23 24
Crosses Completed 25% 21% 25%
Ave cross completion
per game
5 5 6
Goals Conceded 27 23 28
Ave Goals Conceded Per Game 1.2 1.0 1.3
Tackles 719 540 632
Ave Tackles Per Game 33 23 29
Tackles Won % 73% 73% 72%
Ave tackles completed
per game
24 17 21
Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions 906 1047 1017
Ave Blocks, etc., Per Game 41 46 46
Fouls 319 302 313
Ave Fouls Per Game 15 13 14
Yellow Cards 38 31 37
Fouls per yellow 8 10 9
Red Cards 5 4 2
stats from opta
Cipher's stats extract shows that in the final third Boro have made less shots and are less accurate than Fulham but have managed to score 4 more goals than The Cottagers.

In terms of passing Boro are less active than Fulham but their better completion rate means that the two clubs are neck and neck Boro make more crosses than Fulham but are less accurate so each squad is making, on average, 5 accurate crosses per game.

Defensively Boro make 33% less tackles than The Cottagers tending to rely on their backline more than Fulham, 15% more blocks, etc..

Boro have won once on their travels this season giving them one of the worst away records in the Premiership, in terms of results, however 6 of their 9 defeats are by one goal so they are poor but will keep fighting 'til the end.

Matchday Referee

Mark Halsey - Bolton, Lancashire

Ref Mark HalseyMark Halsey enjoyed a fairly meteoric rise to the Premier League referees list having only taken up the profession in the 1988/89 season. The 41-year-old self-employed driver - or white van man - caught the refereeing bug in the Hertfordshire County League, before joining the football league as a linesman in 1993.

Halsey came into the Premiership with a reputation as a lover of injury time. He was in charge of the 1998/99 Division Two play-off final in which Manchester City scored in the 95th minute to equalise with Gillingham, before winning the match on penalties.

(Ed. - Ref Halsey has reffed 3 Fulham games this season so far the League Cup 2-1 away defeat against Wigan, our Premiership 4-2 away defeat against Southampton and our Premiership 3-2 home victory over Tottenham. In these games he booked Boa Morte, Goma and Ouaddou. In the Tottenham game the linesman on the Ellerslie Road side had a shocker allowing two Spurs goals despite offsides and fouls but went on to redeem himself by insisting on giving a penalty to Fulham against the clear wishes of Halsey.)

2002/ 2003
Mr. Wiley's score sheet Average Premiership Referee score sheet
Total Match Avg Total Match
Games 12 9
Fouls 336 28.00 265 27.98
Penalties 4 0.33 2 0.25
Yellows 24 2.00 31 3.27
Reds 1 0.08 2 0.19
Fouls per Yellow 14   9  

Ref Halsey is whistling a little less this season, as much as once less per game. More seriously his approach to cautions has changed dramatically with 33% less yellows being issued this season so far. As far as reds are concerned he is 1 or 2 cards up on his last season figures.

Franck Queudrue has 5 yellows while Ugo Ehiogun and Jonathan Greening are both on 3 cards. Luis Boa Morte is on 4 cards at the moment

Bolton Manager However Saha, flamboyant and unpredictable, will be up against the experienced and dependable Middlesbrough and England centre-back Gareth Southgate.

Southgate ended his 12-month period on the Villa Park transfer list in July 2000 when, despite previously stating he wanted to join a team regularly competing in the Champions League, opted to put his faith in Steve McClaren's ambitions and joined Boro.

He became the former Manchester United coach's first major signing as Boro boss and McClaren was delighted to complete the deal having made Southgate his number one transfer target all summer.

Southgate is a great organiser and intelligent player. He will be confident that his pace and positional sense will be good enough to contain the danger of Saha on Sunday.

  Source: 4thegame/planetfootball

Middlesbrough's away record is the same as West Brom with the Teesiders registering just one away win and one away draw

When these two clubs played earlier in the season Boro were coasting to a straight forward 2-0 home win with just injury time to play out. However Fulham were able to throw the Boro defence into disarray and score twice in a minute to draw the game.

Both teams have a lot to play for, Fulham need to move away from the drop zone while Boro need to o avoid getting involved in a scrap around the edge of the same drop zone.

Fulham have only lost at home to Boro once in their last 6 visits and with the return of Saha and Boa Morte up front The Cottagers have the fire power to take the points. .

Betting odds Fulham Draw Boro
Coral 1/1 11/5 11/5
Hills 13/10 21/10 7/4
Ladbrokes 11/10 11/5 2/1
SuperSoccer 11/10 9/4 2/1
Stanley 6/5 21/10 2/1
Betfair 66/50 47/20 49/20
All prices subject to fluctuation(particularly Betfair).
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