Preview: Fulham v West Brom

Alan Crowhurst

A win on Saturday against West Brom at Craven Cottage could inch Martin Jol a little farther from the hot seat, but a loss could crank the temperature up to broiling. Steve Clarke's Baggies reloaded on transfer deadline day and this bottom-of-the-table clash is massive for both sides.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2013 Fulham Football Club...

It seemed altogether more fitting to trail into an ellipses rather than feign excitement with an exclamation point or even confidently state the facts with a full stop.

The fact of the matter is, Fulham haven't given us much to be excited about thus far and the club's deadline day (lack of) activity didn't exactly stoke the flames of passion. Although, as I've suggested, it's quite possible that Shahid Khan was satisfied with the club's earlier transfer window activity, is unconvinced by Martin Jol, and wants to let it ride until January, or even before, before he decides on whether or not Jol is his man.

Saturday's home match against a West Brom side desperate for a win will either inch Jol closer to security or hurl him to the top of the first-manager-to-be-sacked list.

In some ways, it's an unfair deal for the Dutchman. Three points in the bag and on to the next one is what everyone is wanting and expecting given the Baggies' dismal start to the season. However, Steve Clarke was able to bring in Morgan Amalfitano, Stephane Sessegnon, and Victor Anichebe on transfer deadline day and suddenly a side that has yet to score a goal in the 2013/14 campaign looks significantly more capable, especially down the flanks. Fulham, through a combination of injuries, aging legs, and disinterested attack-minded players has struggled defending the flanks, especially on the left side where the fleet-footed Sessegnon is likely to operate against the concrete-footed John Arne Riise.

Brede Hangeland and Aaron Hughes will have their hands full with one or both of messrs. Anelka and Anichebe and without plenty of midfield help tracking runs into the defensive third, the Fulham back four could be pushed and pulled dangerously out of shape.

On the other hand, West Brom wasn't one Amalfitano, one Sessegnon, and one Anichebe away from being a brilliant side. With any luck, the international break afforded Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent, two players unencumbered by national team duty, the opportunity to get on the same page - or at least in the same book - when it comes to how they will play together. If Martin Jol wants to keep his job I hope he was in on that conversation too.

The Baggies find themselves bottom of the table for a reason, but I have confidence that they won't prop up the rest of the Premier League for long. Let's just hope they don't start their ascent Saturday.

COYW!

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