Well this fixture should prove to be at least moderately more entertaining. This weekend, thanks to a replay victory over Wigan, we're playing Fulham at Craven Cottage, hoping to advance to the sixth round of the FA Cup. As Mark put it, we should "expect some hot American on American action" from this match with both Clint Dempsey and Stu Holden playing. The last two meetings with Fulham ended in goalless draws, although I really doubt this one will.
While Fulham's league form has been less than excellent, it's hard to argue with their cup run. The last round saw them beat Spurs 4-0, while the round before that, they sent Peterborough out 6-2. They've been averaging a goal every 17 minutes at home in domestic cup games this season. Clearly, Fulham ain't nothin' to mess wit. This is in addition to the fact that their squad is at pretty much full strength, as Clint Dempsey is expected to make his return. Bolton have an awful record at Craven Cottage having only won once in our past 13 matches there.
This coupled with our newly formed back line makes me really worry about this game. With Knight and Ricketts adding their name to the injury list, we now have exactly four first team defenders, and no natural right backs. This means the highly esteemed Paul Robinson will drafted into right back, with the unexperienced Marcos Alonso getting the start on the left. We probably will not be keeping a clean sheet (something we've failed to do at Craven cottage since 1990), which means it's up to our strikers to regain form, and quick. Due to the handicap of a back line, Coyle will probably field a relatively strong team otherwise. He has apparently talked to his players about how important the cup is, so I'm hoping he'll follow through on it. It's a winnable match, but by no means an easy one. Come on you White Men!