Fulham play tomorrow against Stoke City at Craven Cottage.The game takes place at 8PM UK Time and 3PM EST. The game will be on Fox Soccer Plus live in the United States. In the first match in January, Stoke City beat Fulham 3 - 2. Fulham are currently 11th in the league with 46 points. Stoke City are currently 13th with 44 points. This should be another interesting game for Fulham. If the club wants to end up in the top 10 by the end of the season they are going to need some points from their final two matches. I expect a tough challenge from Stoke City. Below are "my 5 keys to victory for Fulham against Stoke City."
1. Fulham need to be next to perfect defending set pieces.In the first match-up, Stoke City took advantage of set pieces to score goals. This was a key from the last match against West Ham. I think this key is very important in the match. If Fulham want to win tomorrow they need to defend set pieces very well tomorrow. Matthew Etherington's kicks off of set pieces set up 2 goals in their last matchup for Stoke.
2. Fulham need to score early in this match. If Fulham can score early they could really take control of this match. Just ten days ago Stoke City travelled to Chelsea and lost 7 - 0. That loss probably hurt Stoke City a great deal. An early goal could affect the confidence of Stoke City.
3. Fulham need to contain Matthew Etherington. This player was really integral in the first match - up against Fulham. He was key on set pieces, and also in the midfield on the left side. Fulham need to do a good job of limiting his effectiveness on the match.
4. Clint Dempsey again needs to be involved in scoring opportunities.With Bobby Zamora probably being out again, Dempsey needs to be very involved in this match up to create scoring chances. He was able to score and create other opportunities in the last match up against West Ham. This was a key as well from the last match up.
5. Chris Smalling needs to step up once again and be very solid on defense. If he is playing in the place of Hangeland tomorrow he needs to be consistent. At time he looks very comfortable, and at other times he looks a little shaky. I think he just needs some more experience. Tomorrow would be a great time for him to be consistent and limit his mistakes.
The big question again will be who will Hodgson be starting tomorrow? If he puts out the same lineup as the last match-up that would be fine with me. I just hope Fulham can come out strong and take control of this match early. I do expect this match to be a tough game.