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Fulham visit Norwich -- PL. Match Preview

last updated Wednesday 25th December 2013, 7:49 PM


Fulham technical director Alan Curbishley
Fulham Technical
Director
Alan Curbishley
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Alan Curbishley
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Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen
Fulham Head Coach
Rene Meulensteen
Other
Rene Meulensteen
Stories
Meulensteen wants points There's no doubt this is a deliciously unpredictable Premier League season at the top of the table, and I doubt it's ever been more intriguing towards the less desirable end either.

Norwich, for me, are one of this season's great mysteries. Have the Canaries ever in their history had a squad so full of genuine attacking quality?

Van Wolfswinkel, Hooper, Elmander, Redmond, Becchio. On paper, it's a squad which should be wreaking havoc in the attacking third yet Norwich are averaging less than a goal a game.

That concerns the fans greatly, who long to see a less risk-averse team with the handbrake finally released. Facing a team in the bottom three is surely the ideal time for that.

Carrow Road is special for me - it's where I made my Match of the Day debut, nine years ago to the day. City failed to score then (losing 2-0 to Spurs), and have never actually scored a home Premier League goal on Boxing Day.

Fulham's Premier League longevity has never been based around a good away record, but right now they need to start picking up points regardless of the venue. A run of three points from a possible 27 suggests a malaise which will test Rene Meulensteen's credentials to the absolute limit.

The new manager's start has been undermined by injuries - especially defensively. The losses of Brede Hangeland and Phillipe Senderos for the Christmas mini-season will hit hard.

Dimitar Berbatov may return at Carrow Road, but his output of just three Premier League goals offers some insight into why Fulham will have taken their Christmas turkey in the bottom two.

Historically, mind you, this has proved a fruitful fixture for Fulham. Norwich haven't won this game in any competition since 1986.

This meeting will doubtless prove anxious, tight and edgy. Winning it may come down to which manager is bold enough to risk losing it.

    Head-to-head



  • Fulham are unbeaten in their last 12 matches against Norwich in all competitions (W9, D3). They have scored 27 goals during this period and conceded just four.


  • Norwich have only lost three of 17 league games at Carrow Road (W6, D8, L3) this calendar year.


  • Fulham's joint-biggest win in Premier League history was 6-0 against Norwich in May 2005, a day that saw the Canaries relegated.



  • Norwich City



  • Norwich are unbeaten in their last three league matches (W1, D2) - it's their longest run without defeat this season.


  • Chris Hughton's side have kept six clean sheets so far this season; only Everton, West Ham (both eight) and Tottenham (seven) have more.


  • This is the Canaries' fifth Premier League fixture on Boxing Day. They failed to score in any of the previous four (D1, L3).


  • Gary Hooper has scored four goals in his last seven matches, including three in his last three appearances at Carrow Road.



  • Fulham



  • It is just three points from a possible 27 for Fulham (W1, L8).


  • Fulham have only won one of their previous 11 Premier League matches played on 26 December (W1, D6, L4); a 2-0 win at home to Southampton in 2003.


  • Dimitar Berbatov has scored five goals and contributed five assists in six Premier League appearances on 26 December.


  • Berbatov is one of only five players in Premier League history to score a hat-trick on Boxing Day (Manchester United v Wigan in 2011).
























Source Dan O'Hagan at BBCSports
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