Fulham — Norwich (FA Cup)
Fulham and Norwich meet at Craven Cottage to decide who goes forward in the FA Cup with mixed feelings. A chance to achieve silverware would be a good way to appease the fans and compensate them for the frustrating Premier League results. On the other hand, Réne Meulensteen and Chris Hughton had enough on their plates without overcharging their schedules with yet another competition. The indecision has led to a 1-1 draw ten days ago and forced them to this second tie. How about now?
The Cottagers have the worst defence of the Premier League with 46 goals against, 54 if we add the cups’ fixtures. They have but one clean sheet in the last fourteen ties. It’s scary to watch how easy they concede. Just last Saturday they have allowed relegation-zone struggling Sunderland to net four to one in their home pitch. In the next month and a half they’ll cross paths with Arsenal, Southampton, United, Liverpool and Chelsea. All they have may not be enough to maintain Fulham above water.
Berbatov’s natural qualities are undeniable but he is completely devoid of ambition or drive. And this all dog is not about to learn that trick. What a squad as Fulham expects from a more experienced and talented performers is that they lead by example. Berbatov is not that. He gets bored easily and often goes AWOL without prior notice. He’s the wrong man for the job.
Keeper Stekelenburg should sit this one out because of a hurt foot. Matthew Briggs has a groin injury that is keeping him on the sidelines.
Probable line-up: Stockdale — Zverotic, Amorebieta, Hughes, Richardson — Derek Boateng, Sidwell — Dejagah, Kasami, Alex Kacaniklic — Darren Bent.
The Canaries are neck-to-neck with their Cup opposition in the Premier League table. They in 15th place with 19 points, one above Fulham. The Holidays season calendar has been a tiresome nightmare for Norwich City. They’ve failed to win any of their last seven matches in all competitions. The last success happened over a month ago, a 0-2 victory away against West Bromwich Albion. The most recent failure was a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park on Saturday, courtesy of Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas.
Escape relegation is Norwich’s top objective and Hughton knows only too well he walks a thin line. Every match is fight for survival until that is secured. Josh Murphy, Norwich’s 18 year old winger, may be given another chance to shine. He started the first tie and was highly praised by his manager for the performance he put up.
Chris Hughton has to work his way around a full treatment room. Elliott Bennett (knee) and Michael Turner (hamstring) are definitely out. Howson (back), Tettey (ankle) and Pilkington (hamstring) are all in doubt.
Probable line-up: Mark Bunn — Whittaker, Martin, Bennett, Garrido — Hoolahan, Howson, Fox, Redmond — Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Johan Elmander.
On January 4th Cottagers and Canaries met at Carrow Road and the best they could do was reach a 1-1 stalemate, Darren Bent scored first, Robert Snodgrass made the equalizer. Sheffield United, who kicked Aston Villa out of the FA Cup, is waiting to see whom will go against them in the next round. Tuesday night Fulham and Norwich will face each other once more for the honour.