The last time the Fulham took the pitch against West Ham, Eddie Johnson was still on the roster. That gives you an idea of where Fulham was and how much time has transpired since these two teams took the pitch. Coming off a transfer deadline there are a lot of shiny new toys and it's going to be exciting to see them come into the team and see where they fit.
Looking back at the 2010/11 season, the last time the Whites and Hammers clashed during the season, they took only 1 point out of two meetings and had a 2-5 goals for/against differential. This in a season where the West Ham was relegated and Fulham took 8th in an upper half table finish. It was disappointing to say the least and today as we visit them on their pitch there has to be a little bit of revenge in the minds of those returning players. No more likely than with those members of the back line that were beat and surrendered 3 goals at home in a extremely disappointing loss. Brede Hangeland, Aaron Hughes, Chris Baird
(though it's far more likely that Jol goes with Riether out on the right side) and certainly most of all, keeper Mark Schwarzer.
West Ham's attack, unfortunately for us, has also become more dangerous with the recent addition of Liverpool's Andy Carroll on a season long loan. Say what you will about Carroll he's still a dangerous player. He has a great ability to find proper positioning and with his size and athletic ability he turns that position into opportunities for goals with his head.
Sam Allardyc and his club looks ready to have Carroll in the starting XI tomorrow and it'll be interesting to see how Allardyc's love of the 4-5-1 formation works with long time striker Carlton Cole--whose pace is rather ridiculous at times and did serious work on Hughes and Baird last time around--affects his line-up selections.
Cole stuck around despite the clubs demotion last year and even allowed the club to reduced his wages in a measure of good faith having struggled to find a proper transfer. I'm not sure if they plan to use him as a super sub at this point, which is where he really belongs at this point in his career. However, I'd almost anticipate a 4-4-2 showing, if nothing else just to start the match.
With Carroll likely to do battle in the air against Hangeland the real wild card for the defence is how the Whites handle control of the midfield. A rested Diarra and Sidwell are likely to tangle themselves with some combination of Mark Noble, Mohamed Diame and Kevin Nolan. Diarra's showing last week was impressive at times. As he
I'm expecting Jol to possibly throw out a defensive formation (where is a healthy Dickerson Etuhu when you need him?) similar to what we saw against Sheffield, Tuesday night. The obvious question right now is "can Fulham be creative enough to create scoring opportunities". Considering they will be without Ruiz, and the added loss of Dembele this past week. Petric is a great finisher and can create some chances with his feet but Damien Duff is going to need to supply some great service and Kacaniklic is going to need to continue to step up out on the wing.
The west London wild card could be Hugo Rodallega.Who showed great energy against the Manchester United last week and had a couple of good looks that, with luck on his side, could have given the Whites a point leaving Old Trafford. Alas, it wasn't meant to be but he's had moments early this season that lead one to think that he could make an impact on today's game.
The Whites are going to have their work cut out for them and are going into what can be hostile environment. The midfield is going to have to keep from turning the ball over and work on transition as West Ham likes to strike quickly. It's important that attackers capitalize on what looks they get, chances are they won't get many. Hopefully Brede can shut down Carroll and we'll be looking at an easy win. But, I'm expecting a fight and a fun game to watch,