Fulham lost 1 - 0 to Stoke yesterday at Craven Cottage. For me this was a frustrating loss. Fulham gave up a late goal to Matthew Etherington of Stoke. I have to give credit to Stoke City. They played well in the second half and did create chances for themselves. This was a lost opportunity for Fulham. To have a real good shot at the top 10 in the league they will probably need to win at Arsenal. I believe a point could help, but a win would increase their chances of a top 10 finish. It is time to look back at "my keys" to the match to see if they were factors yesterday. Below is an analysis of "my 5 keys to victory for Fulham against Stoke City."
1. Fulham need to be next to perfect defending set pieces. Fulham did their job on set pieces. This key did not burn them yesterday.
2. Fulham need to score early in this match. This key I think was a factor in the match. Even though Fulham controlled the first half, they did not score. If Fulham were able to get an early goal, it really could have hurt the confidence of Stoke. Stoke recently lost 7 - 0 to Chelsea. Instead, Stoke came out well in the second half. All they did was take advantage of an opportunity.
3. Fulham need to contain Matthew Etherington. I guess you can say Fulham failed at this key to the match. Matthew Etherington scored the winning goal yesterday. He was also very active in this match.
4. Clint Dempsey again needs to be involved in scoring opportunities. I thought Clint Dempsey was very involved in scoring opportunities yesterday. This wasn't a key that caused the loss. He did his part. Dempsey just couldn't get that goal that Fulham needed.
5. Chris Smalling needs to step up once again and be very solid on defense. Chris Smalling did not play yesterday. This key was a non - factor in the match. The defense played well for the most part.
The big question I was asking before the match is who would be starting for Fulham? Hodgson put out a very strong side yesterday. Bobby Zamora was the only significant player who did not participate in the game. The fact that Fulham had a pretty strong side yesterday makes this loss more disappointing.
In concluding, I think two of my "keys"were factors in this match. First, Matthew Etherington was very good yesterday. Also, Fulham were not able to score early in this match. Now, it is on to play away to Arsenal on Sunday. The big question for this game is who will be starting?