Monday, 9 August 2010

Premier League Preview - Fulham


Fulham were the most improved team last year under manager LMA Manager of the year Roy Hodgeson guiding them a respectable 12th in the league. Most impressively for Fulham was the calibre of teams Fulham beat on route to the Europa League Final, beating the likes of Shaktar Donetsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg.

Thanks to his heroics at Fulham, Hodgeson was courted by Liverpool and subsequently took over the reins at Anfield, with Fulham appointing former Manchester City and Blackburn manager Mark Hughes.

Apart from the managerial change, not a lot else has changed at the club over the summer. Key players Brede Hangeland and Mark Schwarzer are still at the club after being linked with summer moves away. Also star striker Bobby Zamora looks to build on the progress made last season, has received an England call up, while the impressive Clint Dempsey, Zoltan Gera, Danny Murphy and Simon Davies are still available for selection to Mark Hughes. Finally Andy Johnson should be fit and available after a season blighted by a knee injury, he will be out to prove a point under Mark Hughes.

Key Player: Brede Hangeland

The 29 year old centre back is one of the most consistant and reliable in the Premiership, and was instrumental in Fulham’s Europa League challenge last season. Constantly linked with a move across London in recent months but the Norwegian has since refuted these claims and expressed his desire to stay at Fulham and work with Mark Hughes. This is a major boost for the club, who still have a very good manager in charge who’s main qualities are motivating players for the big games meaning Fulham fans have another exciting season ahead at Craven Cottage, with Hangeland the cornerstone of the squad.

Manager: Mark Hughes

Key Signing: Philippe Senderos

The Former Arsenal defender joins on a free transfer. After a promising start to his Arsenal career, a dip in form coinciding with a failure to perform in the big matches saw him relegated to a bench. A loan spell at both AC Milan and Everton were blighted by injuries, and Arsene Wenger decided against offering the 25 year old a new contract. He is Fulham’s only signing so far this season, and is expected to be up for the challenge of starting afresh.

Aims: Settle under Mark Hughes, and progression for last season

Prediction: 9th

I expect Fulham to continue in the same vein as they did last year and continue their steady progression up the table. The cup run from last year providing great experience and belief that anything is possible, so I’m expecting another cup final for Fulham this season.

First Five Fixtures: Man Utd (H), Blackpool (A), Wolves (H), Blackburn (A), Everton (A)

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