Stoke City vs. Fulham  1 - 0

Article

Premier League: Stoke City 1 Fulham 0

24 November 2012 18:26

Charlie Adam proved the match-winner as Stoke City earned a well-deserved 1-0 win over an ineffectual Fulham at the Britannia Stadium.

Fulham struggled to cope with Stoke's aerial threat for the entire game and it was a Peter Crouch knock-down that proved decisive, as Adam converted it with ease to hand Tony Pulis' side the three points.

After a fairly even, albeit scrappy, opening 15 minutes, Stoke began to dominate and, predictably, it was a set-piece that led to the first chance with Robert Huth heading just wide from a corner.

Stoke's pressure told in the 26th minute when Ryan Shotton got forward down the right and crossed to Crouch, who headed down for Adam to turn the ball home from six yards out.

Fulham continued to struggle against Stoke's long passing game and another great chance went begging for the home side, with Ryan Shawcross heading onto the underside of the bar.

Fulham failed to assert themselves on the match and that pattern looked set to continue in the second half as Glenn Whelan fired over from the edge of the area after Mark Schwarzer flapped at a Matthew Etherington cross.

Stoke's pressure was relentless and the next chances came with 25 minutes remaining, Huth and Shawcross failing to capitalise from free headers following successive corners.

It was 73 minutes in before Asmir Begovic was finally forced into a save as Fulham pushed forward, Dimitar Berbatov firing straight at the Bosnian goalkeeper following a fluent build-up.

Fulham began to come into the game as they pushed men forward in the latter stages, but there were few chances as they were ultimately unable to break down a typically resolute Stoke defence.

With minutes remaining, a linesman's flag was all that denied Stoke's Kenwyne Jones a first Premier League goal of the season but the three points were already safe for the hosts.

Article

Sidwell: Berbatov gives Fulham flair

23 November 2012 13:34

Dimitar Berbatov's class has been the key to making Fulham entertaining in the Premier League, according to team-mate Steve Sidwell.

Having lost last season's top scorer Clint Dempsey and powerful midfield playmaker Moussa Dembele to Tottenham last season, a difficult season appeared in prospect for the Cottagers.

But Martin Jol's men find themselves ninth in the table through 12 matches - five points better off than at this stage last season - with their tally of 25 goals scored only bettered by Manchester United.

Key to the Fulham revival has been Berbatov who, having arrived from Old Trafford on transfer deadline day, has netted five times and thrilled fans and neutrals alike with his skill.

And Sidwell is in no doubt as to the impact the elegant Bulgarian has made since his summer move.

"After losing Clint, our top scorer last season, and Moussa, with the type of player he is, the fans thought 'This is going to be a tough season', and us players thought it too," he told Goal.com.

"But we brought in quality too. With Berba, people can see what he's done already in games, and the class that he brings.

"In games he's been immense. He's scored five goals, and his assists and chances created are going to be up there with the best in the league.

"He's got that class, and he shows it day-in and day-out in training.

"As a footballer you know that if you get the ball into him it's going to stick, and if you make runs off him that he's going to make chances."

Sidwell himself has played a significant role in Fulham's impressive early season form, scoring three times and being ever-present in a dynamic and expansive midfield.

It is something of a personal renaissance for the 29-year-old after difficult spells at Chelsea and Aston Villa, and the man himself credits the welcoming atmosphere at Craven Cottage.

"My time at Reading was fantastic, and I enjoyed every moment of it," he continued.

"In truth, I've enjoyed myself at every club I've been at, because it's been a good experience, whether good or bad.

"Sometimes you go to a club and it just doesn’t work out. Unfortunately that happened at Chelsea, and it never really got going at Villa.

"But as soon as I stepped through the door at Fulham it felt like being home. It's a good, family club, and I hit the ground running because I felt comfortable.

"Being back in London was good too. As a footballer, when your life is settled off the field then your football takes care of itself."

Earlier this month Everton midfielder Leon Osman was awarded his first England cap against Sweden at the age of 31 – the fruit of over a decade of consistent service at Goodison Park.

Sidwell, himself uncapped, is heartened by the call-up, and believes it shows the international door is always open for those who perform consistently at club level, regardless of age.

"It gives any player hope. When a new manager comes in, it's a fresh start for everyone," he said.

"As far as Leon Osman was concerned, I think it was quite long overdue. He's been one of the most consistent midfield players the Premier League has seen.

"But it goes for any player. If they perform consistently for their club, and they're playing well, then they've got a chance to play for their nation."

Article

Premier League preview: Stoke City v Fulham

22 November 2012 09:29

Mladen Petric has insisted he is fit for Fulham's trip to Stoke, while Mahamadou Diarra could also return from injury for Saturday's game.

Petric was subbed off in Fulham's 3-1 defeat to Sunderland last week just after scoring his side's only goal but the Croatian striker, who has struck four goals in seven games since moving to the English Premier League, is convinced he will be fine to play Stoke.

Sunday's defeat at home was a shock for Fulham and they want to bounce back quickly against a team similarly placed on the Premier League table.

"I got a kick on my calf when I scored," Petric said.

"It made a cut so I had to come off to have stitches put in and then by the time I got back on the pitch it was 2-1.

"It was a bit painful but I had injections so it was OK."

Stoke will draw level with Fulham on 16 points if they win on Saturday but with the visitors having not won in four matches, they are due a victory.

Fulham manager Martin Jol may be keen to bring Diarra straight back into his starting line-up as his team have struggled defensively this season.

Diarra would add much-needed stability in defensive midfield as Fulham have conceded the equal third most goals in the Premier League (22 in 12 games).

Stoke held on for an impressive 1-1 draw away to West Ham last week and have picked up five points in their past four fixtures as they have moved up to 14th position.

For Stoke to win against Fulham they will most likely need to keep the visitors scoreless.

Tony Pulis' side have only scored more than one goal in three Premier League matches this season with Peter Crouch Stoke's main attacking weapon.

Crouch has hit the back of the net four times this season but has not scored in his past six matches, a record that must improve if Stoke are to cause an upset against Fulham.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25