On May third, Fulham travel to the Britannia to take on Stoke City. This is no less than a must win game for Fulham. After they let two crucial points slip against Hull City, Fulham must win this game against Stoke to keep any hope of staying in the Premier League alive. Stoke City, on the other hand, have been safe for a while. Mark Hughes is looking for a top half finish in his first season at the Britannia. Make no mistake, this is a huge game in the relegation race.
Neither team has major injury issues at this point in the season. Both record signing Kostas Mitroglu and leading goal scorer Steve Sidwell will have late fitness tests for Fulham. Damian Duff is out with a long term injury. Stoke will be without Robert Huth and Mathew Etherington who are both out with long term injuries. Stoke will also be without their captain, Ryan Shawcross, as he is suspended for picking up a red card last week against Tottenham.
- The last three times these teams have met the home team has won 1-0.
- The last 16 times the two teams have met only two of those 16 games have had both teams score.
- Stoke City have the best home record outside of the top six with nine wins six draws and only three losses.
- Fulham have the worst defensive record in the league conceding 10 more goals than any other team in the league.
Just a few weeks ago Fulham looked dead and buried Now, while Fulhum’s chances of survival took a hit with the draw against Hull, Fulham have a chance to stay up and a lot of that is thanks to goals from Ashkan Dejagah. Dejagah has scored four goals in nine games since he was reunited with Felix Magath, and has an outstanding 33% chance conversion rate, including creating a chance every 55 minutes for Fulham. Dejagah’s wonder goals have given Fulham a chance of survival. However slim it may be, they still have a chance.
Stoke would not be where they are without Peter Crouch. Crouch is Stoke’s leading goalscorer with eight goals, and his height always makes him a threat in the air for a header on goal or for a knockdown to create a chance. The former Liverpool player has created nine clear cut chances, more than any other Stoke player. He provides a focal point to the attack that was crucial for Tony Pulis when he was at Stoke. While Mark Hughes has tried to get Stoke to play on the floor more often, it still doesn’t hurt for Hughes to have an outlet like Crouch up top to release pressure. His goal scoring exploits have been huge to a team that has lacked goal this season. If you take out the goals he’s scored and assisted, then Stoke would have scored fewer goals than any other Premier League team.
This is a tricky game to predict because, while Stoke are so good at home, Stoke have nothing to play for and Fulham have everything to play for. Fulham looked good to get out of the relegation zone after 60 minutes against Hull when they were 2-0 up. However, Fulham let it slip to 2-2 making this game and the next game must wins. The worry is that the psychological blow from letting that lead slip could hurt Fulham to a point where they can’t come back from it. I predict a hard fought draw where once again Fulham will come up just short.