A 12:45 kick-off on New Years Day. What's that all about? Crikey of all the days in the year to pick for an early kick-off we get the one where more people will be struggling to cope with hangovers and lack of sleep than any other.
I'm in favour of a short Winter break. Football matches on Boxing Day and during the Christmas Holidays seem unnecessary to me. They get in the way of time I'd rather spend with the family and make life much harder for those teams that don't have a squad of 46 full internationals. The FA have at least responded to fan concerns by improving the match selections so that in the last couple of seasons we've not had to travel too far. This year has also seemed slightly less frantic, possibly due to Fulham having two away games, but probably more down to the quirks of this years calender. I'd like to see a two week break, which would give everyone a rest from the relentless grind of the league and allow us time to prepare for the next transfer window in the New Year.
Roy's had two days with the squad to prepare for the visit of the other team in the borough. It's too much to expect him to have really achieved much in the time but hopefully the team can show more of the effort they did at St. Andrew's and combined with the boost of a new man in charge and a game against our greatest rivals can find the way to an unexpected result. Someone on TFi pointed out that whilst it's possibly a good time to play the Filth (missing John Terry, Petr Cech, Carlo Cudicini, Claude Makelele, Andrei Shevchenko, Florent Malouda, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba through injury as well as Carvalho through suspension), it's also a very good time to play us. The Filth are starting to close the gap a little on Arsenal and Man United and are one of only two teams to have so far not lost a game against teams in the lower half of the table.
Fulham will be without Hameur Bouazza who serves his one match ban for the, I thought unlucky, sending off against Birmingham. Murphy, Dempsey, Seol and Kamara have all played left wing at some point this season so we'll have options to fill the role. I'm no fan of Seol so I'd probably go for Kamara who has looked more useful when switched to the wing than he has up front. Dempsey needs to be retained in the centre where he has more options available to use his skill and eye for goal. Hodgson is known as a tactician so it will certainly be interesting to see how he lines us up. I think we've only played with 5 in midfield from the start for one game this season and that was the humiliation against Spurs.
Hope you have fun whatever you're up to tonight and very best wishes to everyone for the New Year.