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Match Preview - Middlesbrough v Fulham

last updated Wednesday 07th January 2004, 3:56 PM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman Fulham boss Chris Coleman insists the Cottagers will not be “bullied” into selling leading leading scorer Louis Saha.

The Welshman maintains he has no intention of selling Saha, who has two-and-a-half years left on his contract.

“Nothing’s changed. He’s not for sale,” insisted Coleman.

“We have been saying all along he’s not for sale and that hasn’t changed. It doesn’t matter if there’s a third, fourth or fifth bid, he’s not moving.

“The chairman’s firmly behind me on that, he knows it’s not the right time to lose Saha at the moment.

“Could you see Southampton selling James Beattie in January? Who sells their striker in January just because it suits another club or even if it suits the player? It doesn’t suit us and that’s that.

“He’s under contract so he’s not going to just get up and walk out. If it was in the summer it would give you time to plan, but it’s half way through the season and it would be so disruptive to lose one of my best players at this stage.”

Coleman, far from happy at the way Saha has been targeted, is concerned that the player could be disrupted by the transfer talk with Fulham entering an important phase of their season, beginning at Middlesbrough.

However, the Fulham manager is hopeful his leading marksman will be able to handle it.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of outside influences getting at Louis and I don’t like the way everything’s been handled, but that’s out of our hands. We can’t do anything about that,” he said.

“But he’s got two-and-a-half years left and this season he’s been outstanding, but he’s got a team of players behind him as well.

“We’re not a one-man team, although he is important to us.

“Of course everybody wants to play for the top teams and play in the Champions League and I’m sure that will come to him, but it won’t be coming in January.”

Last away game against Middlesbrough
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Middlesbrough  Manager Middlesbrough have been handed a boost as they bid to solve their goalscoring problems with the news Cameroon international forward Joseph-Desire Job will not be going to the African Cup of Nations.

Steve McClaren's front line have been struggling for form of late, with just four goals in nine games to show for their efforts.

A double strike from attacking midfielder Juninho helped Boro earn a 2-2 draw at Blackburn on Boxing Day, while an own-goal and Bolo Zenden's effort saw off Notts County in the third round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Job had looked lively before undergoing a knee-ligament operation in September and only made his first-team comeback at the weekend.

The French-born striker feels he is in need of match practice and so has decided not to travel to Tunisia for the competition, which kicks-off on January 24.

"After a long-term injury going to the African tournament would have been too early," he revealed. "I prefer to stay with Middlesbrough.

"I was pleased with my comeback. My knee stood up to the test. I was not sure whether I would be a substitute, but the manager asked me to play from the kick-off."

Boro will, though, be without midfielder Jonathan Greening, who has been ruled out for at least two months with tonsillitis

McClaren is not surprised by the continued good form of the Chris Coleman's side, whom many tipped to be among the relegation battlers.

McClaren said: "Chris Coleman has a talented squad. There are several good players in his side and they will want to maintain their good work in the second half of the season.

"It will be a tough game, but hopefully we can follow on our return to scoring form against Notts County."
The Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough
Premiership 20 - 07 Jan 04
Pos Boro Fulham Pos
Games Played   18 19  
Goals 20 14 30 4
Ave Goals Per Game   0.78 1.58  
% Goals To Shots 20 8% 14% 5
Shots 16 169 207 7
Shots On Target 16 73 95 6
Ave Shots Per Game   9 11  
Ave Shots On Target Per Game   4 5  
% Shots On Target 12 43% 46% 6
Short Passes   4290 4980  
Long Passes   2091 2086  
Total Passes 13 6046 7185 7
Ave Passes Per Game   336 378  
% Overall Pass Completion   73% 71%  
Ave passes completed per game   245 268  
Total Crosses Made 20 339 346 19
Ave Crosses Per Game   19 18  
% Overall Pass Completion   19% 27%  
Ave Crosses Completed Per Game   4 5  
Goals Conceded 5 18 26 12
Ave Goals Conceded Per Game   1.00 1.37  
Tackles 14 484 639 1
Tackles Won 15 361 471 1
% Tackles Won 9 73% 75% 5
Ave Tackles Won Per Game   20 25  
Clean Sheets 1 10 7 8
Fouls 10 268 271 9
Average fouls per game   15 14  
Yellow Cards 10 32 32 9
Fouls per Yellows 11 8.4 8.5 10
Red Cards   0 2  
Figures in the Pos columns indicate position in Premiership

Cipher stat flash
5th placed Fulham travel North to 15th placed Middlesbrough amidst the Saha transfer controversy. An unfavourable set of results could see The Cottagers drop 4 places and the pundits smiling.
  • Prior to this game Boro have scored the least number of goals in the Premiership while Fulham are scoring an average of 1.6 goals per game. Boro seem to have sacrificed attack for defence as they are below average on shots, shots on target accuracy and converting shots into goals. They have won 2 home games this season and failed to score on 6 occasions
  • In the middle of the park Boro's squad make less overall passes than Fulham but marginally more long passes. They are the only Premiership squad to make less crosses than Fulham albeit they have played one less game.
  • In defensive terms Middlesbrough have one of the meanest defences in the Premiership. They have achieved 10 clean sheets and have conceded nearly 40% less goals than Fulham. Fulham remain the top tackling team in the Premiership making some 33% more than Middlesbrough who are 14th in the tackles league.
  • As far as fouls and cards are concerned it is hard to see any difference between the two squads.
So statistically speaking Fulham are better at attacking than Middlesbrough but Boro are better at defending. Hopefully their defence is on holiday.

* FULHAM go into the 600th top flight match in their history, straining for a first Premiership victory at the Riverside, and only a third top division maximum of all time on Middlesbrough turf.
Fulham have claimed just one point from the last 12 away. That was the noteworthy goalless game at Arsenal. A point here would be the 150th top flight draw in their history.
* Collected 38 from 72 League points available since Chris Coleman first took caretaker charge.
* Let in three goals in each of three of their last four League games on the road.
* Boro were cruising to victory in last season's corresponding fixture, but two late late scrambled goals from the Cottagers meant they had to be content with a point.
* Chasing only a third home League win this season.
* Lost five top flight games at home. No club has lost more.
* Scored fewer home Premiership goals than any other club (six).
* Hold the weakest home record in the top division.
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