Fulham has defeated Wigan Athletic by 2-1 in a Premier League match played at the DW Stadium on Saturday. This was the third victory for Fulham in the ongoing Premier League. Martin Jol’s boys carried on the brilliant form that they had shown in their previous match against West Bromwich Albion.
Martin Jol didn’t make any change in the starting XI that had played against West Brom. On the other hand, the manager of Wigan, Roberto Martinez, made two changes in the XI that had started the match against Manchester United.
It was Hugo Rodallega who opened the scoring for Fulham in the 31st minute. It was a sharp cross from Berbatov and Rodallega made full use of that and beat the Wigan goal keeper with a superb header. This was the first goal of Rodallega for Fulham. The Colombian winger has joined Fulham this summer after leaving Wigan Athletic.
The Wigan players looked much better in the second half. They attacked and created quite a few opportunities, but, they didn’t manage to capitalize on the scoring chances. Wigan got down by 2-0 in the 68th minute with the goal of Damien Duff. Rodallega got the ball near the left wing and passed it to Ruiz. Ruiz got rid of two Wigan defenders and gave a cross to Duff who made no mistake in flicking the ball home.
After that second goal, the Fulham players got a bit defensive and were just trying to prevent Wigan from scoring any goal. They succeeded in their intention till the last minute, but, in the injury time, Wigan managed to sneak in a goal to restore some pride.
In the post match press conference, Martin Jol said, “It was another fantastic performance by the boys. The players executed the plans brilliantly on the field. There were one or two mistakes here and there, but, that’s part and parcel of the game. Overall, it was really satisfactory for me.”
A late surge of form helped Fulham achieve their second highest ever points tally in the Premier League, finishing on level pegging with Liverpool, thanks in no small part to the goalscoring consistency of on loan striker Pavel Pogrebnyak.
Despite being beaten to the permanent signing of Pogrebnyak by Reading last week, Fulham manager Martin Jol has acted quickly to reinforce his attacking line with the addition of two new forwards, both of whom have been snapped up on free transfers following the end of their contracts.
Firstly, experienced Croatian international Mladen Petric, a 6’1” target man known for his technique as much as his physical prowess. He arrives from Hamburg having scored 51 goals in five seasons in the German Bundesliga, and indeed one against Fulham themselves in the 2009-10 Europa League semi-final. It was also he who scored the winning goal for Croatia on that fateful soggy Wembley evening in 2007 to end England’s hopes of qualifying for Euro 2008.
Fulham’s other new addition is quite a different kettle of fish- former Wigan man Hugo Rodallega has bags of pace and a box of dribbling tricks large enough to fool even the most experienced Premier League defenders. Despite enduring a mixed season in the North West last term, Rodallega has proved on a number of occasions during that he has the quality to score goals at the highest level, and is Wigan’s all-time leading goalscorer in the Premier League.
If the two new arrivals can quickly form a successful strike partnership, and if Fulham can keep hold of midfield maestros Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembélé, allegedly coveted by Liverpool and Manchester United respectively, then Martin Jol’s side have a real chance of smashing their record tally of 52 points and challenging the likes of Liverpool once again for a place in Europe.
Fulham defender Philippe Senderos has said that he is extremely confident that the club can reach the seventh position in the Premier league table, which will equal a club record. After a slow start to the season, Fulham have been spectacular in the second half of the season winning many crucial matches.
As a result, they have a real chance of overtaking both Everton and Liverpool in the final few matches of the campaign to finish in the seventh position. Current England manager Roy Hodgson led Fulham into the seventh position a few years ago, which remains the best Premier league finish to date.
Philippe Senderos scored the 89th minute winner against Wigan recently that gives his side all three points from this match. Now, the Swiss defender is targeting key victory in the remaining matches so that they can finish in the seventh position ahead of Liverpool and Everton. It has been a disastrous season for Liverpool, but Fulham have been able to perform exceptionally well in spite of having to play in the Europa league during the early stages of the campaign. Fulham are exceptional in the match against Wigan, who are one of the inform teams in the Premier league.
“We have to be ambitious. We have a great quality in the team and our home form has been brilliant this season. If we continue like this and playing well and getting goals like our forwards have been doing then I think we have got a chance (of finishing seventh). It is up to us now to see where we are going to finish. We have very important games until the end of the season and we are an ambitious team. We have very good players and hopefully we can look forward to the top rather than looking backwards,” said Senderos.
Fulham defender John Arne Riise has said that he is quite confident that Fulham will be making it past the group stages of the Europa League.
Even though many consider the Europa League to be a major distraction, John Arne Riise begs to differ because he thinks that the prospect of playing in the final of the prestigious European competition is simply too good to pass away. Previously, the likes of Harry Redknapp and many other English managers have criticised the Europa League competition saying that there are just too many games one has to play before getting into the final. The number of games are so huge that it would be totally distracting them from their main objective – domestic success.
Fulham have a real chance of making it into the draw for the next round should they achieve a win against their opponents Odense. Wisla Krakow do have the opportunity to capitalise on the mistakes Fulham may make in the match, as they are the second best placed team in the group to qualify for the next round. Fulham won their first match against Odense 2-0 and they will be feeling extremely confident about the result. Even though they defeated Liverpool recently at home, they suffered a confidence denting 2-0 loss at the hands of Swansea on Sunday.
“I think every competition and every game is important. The Europa League is going to be interesting now after the Champions League last week, with both Manchester teams now in and Valencia and stuff. But now I’m focusing on the game on Wednesday and after that game, we’ll see how it goes and focus on Bolton on Saturday,” Riise said. The rift between manager Martin Jol and striker Bobby Zamora seems to be affecting the squad.