This weekend the boys from SW6 will make the journey north to face the Wanderers, and they will be looking for a repeated performance from their first meeting- a 2-0 drubbing at the Cottage-the Whites have been inconsistent of late. No one is surprised by this as Fulham usually play well in London and struggle on the road. They have only won twice on the road all year. (at Wigan, which is nothing to brag about and a London derby at Loftus Road) That's it. The Whites also manage to take points from top clubs, but conversely drop points to teams struggling to stay in the Premier League. In a seven day span in September they drew 1-1 with Blackburn and six days later drew 2-2 with Manchester City when Man City wasn't in the habit of dropping points. Who does that?
As far as tactics, Martin Jol will probably employ they same strategy he does every game. Fulham have a solid back four with Brede Hangeland, John Arne Riise, Stephen Kelly, and Aaron Hughes, which Jol leans on. He then pushes everyone else forward. The exception to this is Danny Murphy, who services as link between the middle and forward third not because of tactics, but because he is slow. This strategy works well, but leaves Fulham susceptible to counter attacks (see 0-5 December match against Manchester United).
The January loan signing of Pavel Pogrebnyak has been a significant upgrade up top over Bobby Zamora. Pogrebnyak is questionable this weekend after tweaking an ankle in the first half of last week's match against Norwich. The second half of the tandem known as "Cold War" is American Clint Dempsey. Dempsey has again been doing the heavy lifting for Fulham with 13 league goals this campaign. There is much speculation that Dempsey will seek to move to a larger club this summer. Tottenham is most often mentioned, but I think Dempsey is happy in West London and Fulham and Jol will do anything necessary to keep the American happy. If that means chartered flights back home to Texas for Dempsey and his family, so be it.
As far as a prediction, Bolton has been playing inspired football since that terrible event on St. Patrick's Day involving Fabrice Muamba. And given Fulham's dreadful form away from home I think Jol would be happy with a point. The Wanderers defense is still shocking so I can see an up and down match that will not disappoint. I say a goal for the American and a header from Hangeland on a set piece and a 2-2 draw that both Jol and Owen Coyle will laud in post match interviews. #COYW!