Our apparently never-ending search for an away win continues today at the Boleyn Ground (or Upton Park as everyone in the known universe bar the BBC and a handful of West Ham supporters would know it). Can the side that struggled to draw with Bristol Rovers at home REALLY be capable of winning at a much improved West Ham? There's been encouraging news from the training ground this week regarding a number of injured players. Of those only Jimmy Bullard is likely to make the squad, but Jimmy's presence on the bench would surely give everyone a boost. Rather than struggle to come up with more words on how this will be a tough game and we'll need to show some real fight to get anything out of it I thought I'd have a trawl through some West Ham sites to see what their thoughts are.
Knees Up Mother Brown suggest that Luis Boa Morte could be back in the first team squad. Our former captain has been out of action since mid-December but is back in the frame after playing an hour in Monday's 2-1 reserves defeat at Aston Villa. They also have a excellent preview of today's game in which they correctly identify that "Hodgson now finds himself taking over a team devoid of confidence, which manifests itself in some typical relegation side characteristics such as being unable to defend set pieces and throwing away leads. Injuries have increased the scale of the problem; they would undoubtedly be a better side if Jimmy Bullard and Brian McBride had not been ruled out for large parts of the season. Securing players in the January window, in particular a central midfield, a striker and some defensive cover will be a priority".
West Ham 'Til I Die predicts a 2-0 win for the Hammers but realises that "Fulham have a new manager who will be ringing the changes and have a team of players who have something to prove". He believes the team will be Green, Upson, Ferdinand, Neill, McCartney, Etherington, Mullins, Noble, Bowyer, Cole & Ashton and that their key player will be Dean Ashton.
Finally the originally named West Ham Blog expect that "anything else than 3 points will really be unacceptable. Fulham are currently 2nd from bottom and quite rightly so, I cannot imagine a more bland, faceless club if I try. They are a club that fascinate me for some strange reason, mostly because I find myself asking what are they doing in the Premiership. The team is made up of decent athletes who are all individually fairly decent players (except a left back whose name I forget), but the sum of their parts never seems to make up the whole. They are like a Babylon football team, all can talk but none of them can talk the same language. Kind of like how my Championship Manager team looks after about 10 seasons on the go".
I was talking to my Hammer supporting pal in the pub on Friday and he felt that whilst West Ham would expect to win 3 points, Fulham are exactly the sort of side who could turn out to be a banana skin. Whilst Curbishly would be making sure the team did not get complacent, there's an element in all footballers who, despite being able to turn it on when they face Man Utd, find it harder to raise their games for this sort of fixture. Here's hoping we can be that banana skin!
Flawless Fulham throw down the gauntlet
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