Both Fulham and Newcastle United go into Monday’s Barclays Premier League clash with key players missing from their squads.
For the Whites, playmaker Bryan Ruiz will be absent due to a hamstring complaint, while Sascha Riether is a doubt following his knock sustained in our recent defeat by Tottenham Hotspur. The big news, though, is the return of Captain Brede Hangeland who has now served his three-match suspension.
The Magpies will be without the influential Yohan Cabaye (groin) and centre-back Steven Taylor (hamstring), and there are also concerns as to whether the attacking pair of Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa will return for their visit to SW6. Davide Santon and Cheick Tiote are also hoping to be fit after their precautionary withdrawals in Newcastle’s last league outing.
After taking the 2011/12 season by storm, Alan Pardew’s men have struggled to replicate the same form this term despite managing to keep hold of their key players over the summer.
That said, they still boast the league’s joint-leading goalscorer in Ba and have a respectable 17 points to their name – the same amount as Fulham.
After going five Premier League matches without a win, Newcastle claimed all three points in their most recent domestic outing when they saw off Wigan Athletic at St. James’ Park last Monday.
The Latics were always going to be up against it after Maynor Figueroa saw red with little over 10 minutes on the clock and Ba had put the home side ahead from the subsequent penalty. The Senegal striker enhanced his team’s lead on 21 minutes before a sublime Gael Bigirimana strike in the second half sealed the win.
Last time out
Fulham 5-2 Newcastle United 21.01.2012
A second-half onslaught saw Fulham romp to victory earlier in the year as we came from behind to comprehensively defeat the high-flying Magpies at Craven Cottage in our last meeting.
Danny Guthrie’s sweet effort had given the visitors the lead at the end of a first half that had seen Martin Jol’s boys perform well below par.
Whatever the Dutchman said in the dressing room at the break certainly paid dividends, though, as the Whites produced arguably their best half of football of the entire campaign.
Danny Murphy evened things up when he netted from the penalty spot after former Newcastle winger Damien Duff was felled in the area, before Clint Dempsey put his side ahead seven minutes later when he bundled the ball home after Bobby Zamora’s initial shot was saved by Tim Krul.
The American doubled his tally and extended Fulham’s lead shortly afterwards when he finished emphatically following good team play involving Zamora and Andrew Johnson.
To the delight of the sell-out Cottage crowd, we made it four just minutes later when Johnson was brought down in the area, with Zamora confidently smashing home the resulting penalty.
Ben Arfa pulled a goal back for Newcastle with five minutes left of the match but there was still time for Dempsey to complete his hat-trick at the end of an enthralling game of football.
Players to watch
Hatem Ben Arfa: Newcastle’s best player in the fixture last season, Ben Arfa is just one of the enviable weapons in the Magpies’ arsenal. A France international who is comfortable on either wing or in the number 10 role behind the strikers. Pardew is optimistic he’ll be fit for Monday’s clash.
Demba Ba: A slight doubt for the game, Ba has been in fine form this season after struggling for goals at the end of the 2011/12 campaign. Already into double figures, the Senegal striker is a powerful customer with an equally explosive shot on him.
Match tickets for the Newcastle game are still available on General Sale, priced from £40 for Adults and £20 for Juniors.
Supporters can buy online from fulhamfc.com/tickets or by calling 0843 208 1234.