Albion face Fulham in their fourth Premier League fixture of the season on Saturday (3pm Kick-off). This tie is a somewhat significant fixture for Baggies fans as the club have struggled to gain victories at Craven Cottage in recent times. The last West Brom victory on the banks of the River Thames came during the 1967/68 FA Cup winning season, where goals from Albion legends Astle and Brown secured a 2-1 win and sent Albion back to the Black Country with the maximum (pre-1981) 2 points.
Cottagers manager Martin Jol will no doubt be looking to improve on last season’s home form. Fulham managed 7 wins from home games and none of those came against any of the teams who finished in the top 7 of the Premier League last term. Fulham gained an average of 1.26 points per game which was below the Premier League average of 1.59 points per match by 0.33 points where you take just home fixtures into account. Albion were in fact the highest placed finishers from last season that the Cottagers managed to beat on home soil (3-0). Albion’s away form produced 5 wins and 3 draws last season.
This encounter takes place almost a year to the day since both clubs last met at Craven Cottage. On 15th September 2012 Fulham defeated West Bromwich Albion thanks to Dimitar Berbatov’s first two goals for the club and a late strike from Sidwell. The Cottagers were significantly helped that day by the early dismissal of Peter Odemwingie for lashing out at Sascha Riether.
Berbatov netted for The Lilywhites a total of 15 times last season, the closest any of his team-mates came to nearing that figure was 5 league goals (Petric and Ruiz). The 78-cap Bulgarian star has started the season by being one of just three Fulham players to appear in all 270 minutes of Premier League football, he is yet to score and has hit 2 shots at goal with one being on target.
The Baggies stuttering start leaves them with the unfortunate tag of being the only club in English football’s top 4 division’s yet to score a league goal. In fact Albion have managed just four Premier League shots on target. Jones, Morrison, Long and Yacob have all had efforts saved by opposition goalkeepers. The latter of those players Claudio Yacob is certainly a man who has started the season with a competitive edge. The Argentinian international has racked up a total of 10 successful tackles from 12 attempted and is already well on his way to reaching last season’s total of 90 tackles won.
The Throstles new signings will be looking to have a positive impact as Albion look for their first league win of the season, in particular the potential debutants signed on transfer deadline day will look to make their mark. Stephane Sessegnon has played just 117 minutes of Premier League football out of 270 for former club Sunderland this season. During 2012/13 the Benin born flair player scored a club second-highest of 7 league goals and hit 59 shots at goal, no Sunderland player attempted as many shots as Sessegnon.
Missing for Albion is likely to be James Morrison who has started all three games for the club thus far. Czech Republic international Matej Vydra is also still absent as he is recovering from a hamstring injury. Long term absentees Zoltan Gera, George Throne and Ben Foster will all be unavailable. Fulham are without Kieran Richardson but could see Stekelnburg, Reither and Hughes return to the match day squad following recent injuries.
Taking charge of this match is experienced Premier League official Lee Probert. In his four fixtures this season (all competitions) he has awarded 8 yellow cards and one red card. Probert’s last game in charge of Fulham was their 3-2 win over QPR in Match Day 31 of last season. West Bromwich Albion last saw Probert when he was the man in the middle during their game with Wigan Athletic at The Hawthorns last term, another 3-2 game with Wigan coming out on top.