Fulham-Stoke City Preview
LONDON (SE) - There will be a clash of styles at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday afternoon when Stoke City host Fulham.
The Potters have failed to shake off their long-ball image despite a change of personnel, and visiting manager Martin Jol knows that his team are going to have to be ready for the physical challenge.
"We have to cope with the aerial threat," said the Dutch manager. "We can't come up with different solutions. We don't have another Brede Hangeland, but we've got Philippe Senderos and he will hopefully, if he stays fit, come in and replace him. With Aaron Hughes and the other players we've got, we are strong enough but I saw Stoke against West Ham United on Monday and it will be quite a challenge.
"You always hope that you can play your football and get them on the back foot but that is not easy because they try to pressurise you and they put balls into your box. They've got five or six players with a lot of size, so it's not easy but we will try to come up with something."
Stoke are unbeaten at home this season, picking up nine points from five games and conceding just one goal. Javi Garcia's strike on September 15th was the last Premier League goal to be scored against the Potters at the ground, but Tony Pulis has urged the fans not to be complacent and continue their fervent home support ahead of a big run of matches.
"We have played seven away from home and only five at home," said Pulis. "We have to make our home games count - that has always been the case at Stoke City since we have been in the Premier League.
"And for the next two home games against Fulham and Newcastle, we are going to need our supporters - we need them to come and really, really get behind the lads. They have played an enormous part and hopefully they will do over the next few days."
Stoke have doubts over Andy Wilkinson, Michael Owen and Rory Delap, while Marc Wilson is out with a broken leg. Fulham will hold late tests for Mahamadou Diarra and Mladen Petric, but Bryan Ruiz and Alexander Kacaniklic are out. Brede Hangeland is suspended after being issued the red card against Sunderland. That sending off ended a run of 51 straight games in the league for the big centre-back.
Fulham have 25 goals already - two months and 10 games earlier than they managed the same tally last season. This fixture in 2011-12 ended 2-0 to Stoke, and the home team has won four of the last five meetings between these two clubs in all competitions and each of the last three in the league.
The all-time record between these clubs is relatively equal, with Fulham winning 30 and Stoke 27 of the 72 meetings, and the combined score 103-102 to the London club.