Fulham 1 – 2 Spurs (or, the fundamental unfairness of the application of the offside rule)

Not that I’m bitter or anything, but the winning goal was scored with Gallas in a clear offside position, he went for the ball and was spotted by the linesman.

Still, Fulham should have scored more than one, and to let an equaliser in within a minute of taking the lead suggests a fair bit of complacency. So the Whites have lost their unbeaten record and have slipped into the bottom half of the table.

West Ham 1 – 1 Fulham

Yet another draw for the Whites, with West Ham getting an equaliser to frustrate us. Dempsey had opened the scoring, and he, Kamara and Eddie Johnson all had chances to score. But Robert Green had a good game, and the hosts posed a threat through the game.

It will be of concern that Fulham are not winning games, but at the same time they are still unbeaten in the league. Andy Johnson is back in training, but is not likely to be starting games for a short while.

Fulham 0-0 Everton

A pretty grim clash really. Everton are at the bottom of the Premiership, but shouldn’t really be. We are in the top half but missing three forwards. The Toffees are also short of the likes of Saha. So attacking play was not going to be a major feature of the game.

Dempsey and Gera are good players, and did not do too badly, but they are best alongside a natural forward like Zamora or Dembele. There were chances, but all went begging.

Still, on the positive side, there’s only one team other than Fulham who are unbeaten in the Premiership, and that’s Man Utd who have a tough away trip to Bolton to come. Arsenal were nearly humiliated by West Brom but ended up losing 3-2 at home in the end, and Chelsea lost at Man City.

Zamora out

Poor Bobby has not had the luck recently. He had a few injury problems last year, leading up to a period at the end of the 2009-10 season when he could only play for about an hour in the Europa League games, and needed an operation in May that ruled him out of the World Cup.

A minor injury a couple of weeks ago meant he was again unable to play for England, and now at the weekend he suffered a broken leg with ligament damage. Latest reports suggest he won’t be back until early 2011.All from a silly tackle half an hour into the game against Wolves.

At the same time Andy Johnson is still recovering from his knee problems and won’t be available for some weeks. Luckily for Fulham, Dembele has been scoring goals, as Gera and Dempsey have not been on top form so far this season.

It was two second half goals from Dembele that meant that Fulham took their first win of the season after Wolves went ahead in the first half. It’s strange that Fulham are now one of only five unbeaten sides in the Premiership, while Roy Hodgson is already facing questions about how he’s managing Liverpool – a disappointing goalless game that needed quality goalkeeping to stop Birmingham City winning leaves the Reds in 13th place. After only four games, Liverpool are seven points behind the leaders Chelsea, which doesn’t suggest that Hodgson’s new team are going to be winning the Premiership this season.

Blackpool 2-2 Fulham

A bit of a lucky escape that one – Blackpool were clearly trying to take the game and the occasion for them was pretty massive – the first top-flight home game for decades.

Zamora showed how important he was, and that’s a bit of a worry as much as it is a blessing. He took the first goal with aplomb, heading in a Dembele cross late in the first half. However, Bobby came off early with a problem in his thigh, and the team seemed to collapse as a result, conceding two goals in five minutes. It’s quite likely that he won’t be fit for the next England game on Friday, which is a cruel twist of fate. Read the rest of this entry »

Fulham 2-2 Man Utd

The first home game of the season was a pretty amazing affair. Fulham gave the visitors too much time and space at the beginning, and Scholes was able to use a little back-pass to put the ball into the goal after about 10 minutes. Fulham came back into it during the first half, with the best chance falling to Etuhu when he raced into the box to force van der Sar into two reaction saves.

The second half saw the best action, however, and the first Fulham equaliser was a thing of beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

Bolton 0 – 0 Fulham

Away to Bolton is never a thrilling prospect, and it being the first game of the new season there was a lot a caution from the Fulham team. To add to the air of restraint, young David Stockdale was in goal to cover for an injured Schwarzer. Stockdale had a good game, the beeb website described him as ‘outstanding’, which is certainly something we may need if Schwarzer is tempted by offers over the next few weeks.

Still, it is a point gained away from home. It the easy game at home to Man Utd next weekend. After that the next league game is away to Blackpool. After their demolition of Wigan today, the tangerines are currently top of the table. Erk!

Countdowns…

It’s only two days before the new Premiership season starts, and hopefully Fulham have had time to get over the turmoil of not having a permanent manager for several weeks. Mark Hughes will be pleased that the last friendly game went so well – a 5-1 win over Werder Bremen, meaning a third German team has been defeated by the Whites in a few months.

Zamora did get a run out for the second half of last night’s international, and while he didn’t score he was certainly a threat for England and contributed to a more pressing team. Kiraly, the Hungarian ‘keeper, was busy anyway.

Gera also had a good game, being involved in the play that led to Hungary’s opening goal (even if it the ball wasn’t actually over the line when Dawson hit the deflection from Jagielka clear). Now Zoltan and Bobby can work together and really create panic among defences.

There hasn’t been much in the way of transfer activity, with Steve Sidwell’s move from Villa being cancelled by Hughes. The only buy over the summer was Philip Senderos, who is out for at least 6 months following an injury and surgery. Still, there are a few weeks left and it was this time last year I was worried that we didn’t have the squad to carry a league and European campaign.

Fulham 2 – 1 Birmingham City

A win pulled at the brink out of a possible disaster. Baird conceded an own-goal on three minutes, which is probably had luck on a player who’s been playing out of position to cover for the loss of  Pantsil and Konchesky in defence for a while now.

Birmingham are a tough team to beat, and being behind makes the task even harder. It seems that hard work in breaking down one of the better defences in the league was what paid off, although the equaliser came from a superb Duff strike.

I’m sure that City will feel hard done by about the nature of the winner – a Zamora free-kick after three minutes of added time – but the lad is really on fire at the moment. Whether he’s good enough to get a place in the England World Cup squad remains to be seen, but he’s carried on the form that he had before he was injured after Xmas. 15 goals already in the season, some against European sides. The last two goals were the ones that made the difference between a draw and victory.

Transfers and a win at last

A terrible period for Fulham since Christmas has finally ended – they then went six league games with only a single point gained against Spurs on Boxing Day . The cup wins were of course good news in January, but they were also games against teams from lower divisions. But now a win in the Premiership, even against the struggling Pompey, is a welcome boost.

Etuhu returns from the African Nations Cup with a tooth problem that saw him withdraw from the first team after the group games, Konchesky and Gera were injured and AJ remains unavailable. However, Zamora is back earlier than was initially expected following his dislocated collarbone. But still, about half of the first team are currently out, so it was good to see some new players coming in during the transfer window.

Okaka has been discussed for some time now, coming over from Roma to train with the squad in January. He was probably in mind ever since he scored against Fulham in the Europa Cup. With Kamara going to Celtic on loan (with a view to a sale over summer), Okaka is now likely to be a starting forward until some of the regulars return. He had a bright start against Portsmouth, so maybe he could establish himself beyond that. I hope so, and I hope that if he does settle he’ll be available to buy when his loan expires at the end of the season.

Nicky Shorey also played well in the first game of his loan. He’s replaced Konchesky to fill the gap at left-back, which may mean that he’s destined to return back to Aston Villa in May.

What looked to be more of a long term investment was the signing of Christopher Buchtmann from Liverpool. He’s only 17, but has already been in an FA Youth Cup final and was in the team that won the last U17 European Cup for Germany. It’s certainly sent a lot of Liverpool fans into another bout of criticising their management.

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