Festive Focus

Wednesday 12 December 2007

With his start to the season somewhat hampered by a wrist injury, the opening months of the 2007/08 campaign proved to be a frustrating time for Antti Niemi.

However, following a string of excellent performances in goal there can be no doubt that Niemi is back to his best. And with a crucial Christmas period on the horizon, the Fulham goalkeeper is looking to put the disappointment of last weekend’s defeat at Goodison Park behind him.

“We actually started pretty well in the first half,” he said. “Everton upped their standards in the second half and we could match that which was pretty disappointing. We haven’t been hammered this season, even against the big clubs, so losing 3-0 was disappointing but that’s gone now.

“The next two games are massive. We’ve had a pretty difficult schedule so far in that we played all the big boys away from home. Now I think it’s time for everybody to stick together and get a few results in the next few home games.”

The first of the Christmas fixtures sees that Whites taking on Sam Allardyce’s Newcastle United at Craven Cottage and Niemi, for one, is expecting a challenging 90 minutes.

“Newcastle are a good team, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “There has been a transformation going on there with a new manager with new ideas. They’ve got quality players all over the pitch and it’s a very good team. We’ll have to do well if we’re going to anything against them but it’s a home game so we’re looking to get all three points.

“Hopefully the fans will get right behind us. It’s a big thing when the fans are behind you, for any player. Newcastle always bring a big crowd with them wherever they go and I hope our fans will match them – I expect nothing else.”