Swansea travel to Craven Cottage this Saturday as the Premier League continues on after the international break. This is Fulham’s first game since Rene Meulensteen was brought in as head coach to assist manager Martin Jol. Fulham fans will be hope that Meulensteen’s arrival will bring a change in fortunes for their club as they currently sit in 18th place. Swansea have had a mixed start to the season juggling European football with the Premier League. This has meant Michael Laudrup has often changed his side, which has meant the team has not has as much continuity as last season. Playing three games a week could also be a factor for Swansea’s mediocre start, but they have a much bigger squad this season and will want their Premier League form to improve.
Fulham will be without long term absentees Hugo Rodallega and defender Matthew Briggs who are both out with groin injuries. Captain Brede Hangeland faces a late fitness test in order to be fit for the game. The Norwegian defender has a nerve problem in his leg, but manager Martin Jol will hope his leader is fit for the game. Swansea club captain Gary Monk is out with a long term knee injury and won’t return until the New Year. Swansea are also without midfielder Pablo Hernandez (Thigh) who has no return date set. Tallisman Michu will miss the game after picking up a foot injury, and is not expected back until the beginning of December.
Fulham do not have the best of records against Swansea in the Premier League. The Swans have beaten Fulham in both the games the sides have played at Craven Cottage. Fulham won 3-0 the last time the two teams met, which was at the Liberty Stadium in May. Fulham have only scored once in their last three Premier League games but have conceded nine goals. A Fulham win will take them above Swansea in the table. Swansea have won three of their four Premier League games against Fulham and won home and away in the 2011/12 season. Swansea are yet to win in the month of November and have not won any of their last five in all competitions.
Darren Bent joined the Cottagers in the summer on loan from Aston Villa and has managed two goals in his eight games. Jol stated the reason he signed Bent was that he needed a striker with pace. With Berbatov misfiring this season, Bent has a lot more responsibility to score for Fulham. Bent has had a shooting accuracy of 80% this season, but has only managed five shots. He has also scored two of his three clear cut chances, showing how lethal he can be. Bent will feel that if chances are created by his teammates, he will score the goals that Fulham need. It is therefore down to his teammates to try and make Bent the match winner as he is a proven finisher in the Premier League.
Wilfried Bony has had a decent adjustment period to life in the Premier League. The striker has been mainly deployed in the Europe by manager Michael Laudrup, but has managed to score four goals in the Premier League this season. The Ivorian has scored 50% of his clear cut chances, and has had a shot accuracy of 57%. It was in the Swans previous game against Stoke where he showed what he was capable of, scoring twice. That performance is something that he will build on going into this weekend’s game. He was prolific in his time at Vitesse, and if he recreates that form he will turn out to be a great signing for the Swans.
Fulham are definitely in need of a home win, and owner Shahid Khan will hope Meulensteen’s arrival will have an impact this weekend. Swansea will want to move up the table also, so expect a very competitive game. If Fulham continue to play Berbatov and Bent, Swansea will dominate the midfield, so a Swansea win seems the more likely. A 2-1 Swansea win is my prediction, but do not discount a surprise Fulham win.
We’ll leave you with a nice info-graphic from @analysismktg: