Newcastle travel to London this Saturday to face Fulham at Craven Cottage. The Magpies have enjoyed an impressive season, with Alan Pardew’s charges sitting four points out of Champions league positions in sixth place. It is 14th place Fulham who are favoured by the bookies, however.
Newcastle surprised the football world on Tuesday when they added Papiss Cisse to their attacking ranks. The 26 year old, who cost £10m, had a slow start to his career, but the Senegalese striker has been in terrific form for Freiburg in the Bundesliga for the past two seasons. Cisse totalled 37 league goals in 62 matches in a successful stint at the German club. The striker like Demba Ba will have to wait until he returns from the African Cup of Nations to make his debut and Pardew will be hoping that the pair could eventually form a fearsome partnership up front for the Magpies.
Newcastle team have recovered well after a disappointing November and December. Newcastle lost five and drew two matches in a gruelling eight match stretch. Their deserved 3-0 victory over Manchester United and a solid 1-0 win against QPR have steadied the ship, however.
Fulham struggled early in the season, losing four and drawing four of their opening nine matches. Martin Jol’s side have improved hugely in recent months, however. Fulham have accounted for victories over Arsenal and Liverpool, while the Cottagers also recorded draws against Arsenal and Chelsea.
Newcastle beat Fulham 2-1 back in August, with a late Clint Dempsey goal not being enough to cancel out a Demba Ba brace. Last season the teams played out a 0-0 draw at St. James’ Park, while a Damien Duff goal helped Fulham win 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
Fulham have a relatively fit squad, but Martin Jol’s side will be missing Grygera and Schwarzer, who was given a new contract earlier in the week.
Newcastle will once again look to Leon Best, scorer of the winner against QPR, with Cisse, Ba (African Cup of Nations), Sammy Ameobi (knee), Peter Lovenkrands (calf) and Nile Ranger (foot) all unavailable. The Magpies will also be missing Sylvain Marveaux (groin), Steven Taylor (Achilles) and Cheick Tiote (African Cup of Nations), while Yohan Cabaye (ankle) is a doubt.