Bring me sunshine

Posted by Phil Mison

Dimitar Berbatov PA PhotosDimitar Berbatov will be back for the game against Reading.

One would hardly classify London temperatures as tropical this week, but the sun has been shining from a clear blue sky and let's hope it lifts the mood on Saturday for our penultimate home game with Championship bound Reading.

The Whites are badly in need of a win, if only to lift morale after a difficult run following the QPR game a month ago. Reading will simply hope to get back up the M4 with dignity intact after their relegation was confirmed last week following a turgid game with Rangers. Their current run is even more miserable than our own.

Here's the stat file for a game I now expect Fulham to win with something to spare - having heard Jol's cheering team news late Friday afternoon. That alone left me feeling a lot more cheerful.

Top scorer Dimitar Berbatov is available despite being withdrawn with a calf problem against Everton last weekend. Dimi must be a quick healer as his calf tear indicated 14 days respite to heal. Or maybe he just got cheesed off last week at Goodison after half an hour. I certainly was.

We should be further strengthened by the return to fitness of the season's top performer Sascha Riether and the season's somewhat unloved Kieran Richardson.

This former international should be busting a gut to turn in three really solid games on the spin for Fulham because the left-back role is his for the taking if he wants to be an automatic starter from August. Kieran, you will find us a tolerable bunch of supporters - your career has reached a crossroads. It's in your hands to win us over.

Mladen Petric is not fit for the visit of Reading due to a hamstring injury. There's a blessing. Thank goodness Jol keeps repeating there's no room for the Croatian with Berbatov in the side. Ship him out please. We demand better.

Any chance of the game not being last on MOTD or Fulham getting any kind of meaningful critique from the programme's 'experts'? Unlikely, unless it finishes 5-3. Don't bet on it not happening. Both managers will seek to approach this match in positive fashion.

Nigel Adkins is still searching for his first victory since taking charge, and will be aiming for all three points from a ground where he achieved a draw with Southampton on Boxing Day. Fulham haven't scored in four of their last five fixtures, and have taken just one point from a possible 15. That's why a top ten finish now looks beyond us.

Martin handed down a classic piece of wisdom this week though to the local press. "Well you know with the Chelsea and Arsenal games it was difficult for us, but I feel if we had been better we could have got something from these games." Confucious has got nothing on this guy - so that's how the game works people. You can forget all those coaching manuals.

Reading are without a victory in 10 games and have scored only five goals in that time. So not to take all three points here will just be embarrassing. Another low point in a season of disappointments.

Head-to-head, Fulham have lost just one of their last seven home games against Reading. Crikey, even Sanchez managed to pull off a win against this outfit back in 2007!

This season's reverse fixture on October 27 ended in a 3-3 draw and left the Royals still searching for their first Premier League win of the season. Another chapter of Fulham not holding on to a lead late on if you recall.

The mighty Whites have picked up the fewest points in the Premier League this season from a losing position (5).

Fulham failed to register a shot on target (excluding blocked shots) in the 1-0 defeat at Everton last weekend.

Half of Fulham's 14 league goals in 2013 have been scored by Dimitar Berbatov, while there have been three own goals.

The 2-2 draw against Sunderland on 2 March was the last time a Fulham player other than Berbatov found the back of the net; Sascha Riether was the scorer.

Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer will be making his 550th appearance in English football. Will Reading spoil his party?

The side are without a win in their last 10 outings (D2, L8). Their last victory came against Sunderland on February 2.

The Royals' clean sheet against QPR last time out was just their fifth of the season, the joint-worst record in the league with Wigan, Aston Villa and Newcastle.

Tickets are still available friends, and if you are going do give yourself time to check out the Ashwater Press book offers, they are virtually giving stuff away from their back catalogue. Find them on the pavement next to David Lloyd's fanzine pitch by the Hammersmith End turnstiles.



ESPN Conversations