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The Arizonan

Fulham v Wolves - Match Preview

last updated Friday 17th October 2003, 11:54 PM
Fulham Manager Chris ColemanFulham go into their game with Wolves this weekend fifth in the Barclaycard Premiership table, hoping to keep their place in the heights of the league.

The Cottagers moved up into fourth place after a 2-0 win over Leicester City before the international break, though Chris Coleman was quick to play down the team's great start to the season, reminding everyone that we are only seven games in: "It's not realistic to expect us to be fourth at the end of the season."

The management new boy insists that the club's main aim is to avoid relegation." Forward Louis Saha agrees, saying that the club must take each game as it comes: "We are professional, we know we have a small squad so we don't waste time thinking about things like that - we concentrate on the game in hand."

Fulham are now looking to extend their five game unbeaten run at Loftus Road this weekend. They seem to be defying all the critics this season having won four of their seven league fixtures, making a mockery of the predictions that they would be doomed to the drop this year.

Some might say that it's been down to Coleman's change of tactics and use of the 4-5-1 formation this season. He's given the team a sense of stability and togetherness and that is certainly showing through in their style of play. Their work rate and mentality has been fantastic. The only real let-down has been their inability to maintain high levels of concentration until the final whistle.

In games against both Birmingham and Manchester City, a lapse in awareness has resulted in the opposition finding a way through and Fulham have been punished; denied three points because of late equalisers.

Ahead of this weekend's tie with Wolves, Saha prophesised: "We would expect to get at least a point from every home match, but it will be a hard game, as it was against Leicester. We expect every game to be hard in the Premiership, so it will be a tough game."

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Latest disciplinary Stats
Cottage on Loftus Road
Premiership 18 Oct 03
Fulham Wolves
Games Played 7 8
Goals 15 3
Ave Goals Per Game 2.14 0.38
% Goals To Shots 17% 4%
Ave Shots Per Game 12 9
Ave Shots On Target Per Game 6 3
% Shots On Target 47% 31%
Short Passes 1813 1941
Long Passes 749 829
Total Passes 2562 2770
Ave Passes Per Game 366 346
% Overall Pass Completion 70% 67%
Ave passes completed per game 256 232
Total Crosses Made 137 137
Ave Crosses Per Game 20 17
Ave completed Crosses Per Game 5 4
% Overall Crosses Completion 27% 25%
Goals Conceded 9 18
Ave Goals Conceded Per Game 1.29 2.25
Tackles 235 189
Ave Tackles Per Game 34 24
Ave TacklesWon Per Game 26 17
% Tackles Won 76% 73%
Fouls 111 117
Ave Fouls Per Game 16 15
Yellow Cards 18 18
Fouls per Yellows 6 7
Red Cards 1 0
Cipher stat flash
Fulham come out best in the stats comparison in all areas except the total number of passes and fouls.

On the stats it is hard to see how The Wolves can return to the Midlands with anything other than a wacking. Their defence and attack are the worst in the Premiership scoring 3 times in 8 games while conceding 18 goals. In the middle of the park they appear to be as active as Fulham in terms of passing and crossing but their 33% lower tackling rate highlights the gap in committment.

* Unbeaten in five Premiership matches. Won three and drawn two since losing for the only time this season, 3-1 at Everton on 23 August.
* They remain one of six clubs yet to lose at home in the top League.
* Scored in each of the last ten Premiership matches, since the 2-0 defeat at Leeds on 22 April.
* One of four clubs to have managed only a single Premiership victory, and one of three clubs to have suffered five top league defeats.
* Last top flight win at the Cottage was over 36 years ago. They won by the odd goal in three on 16 December 1967.
Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque looking forward to weaving his magic spells against wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves Manager

Wolves on the other hand, haven't been enjoying a good start to their first season in the top-flight, although do go into Saturday's game on the back of their first victory.

Colin Cameron headed home a much-needed winner from Henri Camara's cross to secure a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Molineux before the break. The goal was only their third of the season, and now means they are unbeaten in two games - quite a feat for a team who have yet to make it out of the bottom three.

Confidence is bound to be high after such a win, and Alex Rae reckons the team should use the victory as a springboard to secure their second win over Fulham: "To go into the break on the back of a victory is good for everyone. We have showed we can do it. Now we have tasted victory we will be going all out to get a little string of results together."

Dave Jones is clearly pleased that his team's hard work and persistence is finally beginning to pay off. City's only real chance came in the shape of a Sun Jihai shot, which was superbly saved by Wolves keeper Michael Oakes, resulting in Wolves' first clean sheet in four league games.

The win has done wonders for the team's morale, as Jones said after the match: "Every player who put a shirt on deserves credit because people around here were beginning to get a bit desperate and this takes that away. We had the determination to put things right today and it was down to hard graft from the players."
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