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TOPIC: Fulham Face Wisla in Repeat Encounter

Fulham Face Wisla in Repeat Encounter 25 Oct 2011 10:07 #1

The four English teams contesting the UEFA Europa League are likely to feel a serious case of deja vu, next week, when match day four arrives, looking somewhat familiar to last week's encounters.

In much the same way as Stoke will play Maccabi Tel-Aviv, of Israel, and Fulham will face Poland's Wisla Krakow, for the second time in almost as many weeks, Tottenham will tackle Russia's Rubin Kazan, as the fixtures begin their second cycle. The only other English side in the Europa League, Birmingham, will challenge Belgium's Club Bruges, once again.

Fulham are, notably, the only English team to have lost their previous match, succumbing to a 1-0 defeat at the Stadion Miejski, last week. The Cottagers remain in a favourable position in Group K – second place, behind FC Twente – but a single point separates Fulham from the bottom of the table, a position currently occupied by next week's opponents, Wisla. People following the Carling Cup odds will know they are out of that competition, so will be able to focus on the Europa League.

The Londoners must first deal with their demons, if they hope to reverse their fortunes in Europe; chiefly, their recent run of form, which extends to three matches without a win. Fulham have conceded games to Stoke, Krakow, and, most recently, Everton.

It could be argued that Fulham were unlucky to lose to Wisla, last Thursday. The fixture was marred by an overall lack of discipline, perceived errors in refereeing, in which a stunned Moussa Dembele was sent off for a minor infraction, and, remarkably, a power failure, which forced a delay to the start of the second half.

Fulham were unbeaten in Europe, heading into last week's fixture. Wisla, on the other hand, had yet to win a game in the group stages of the Europa League. If the Cottagers can find a victory against Wigan on October 29, there is no reason why they can't dispatch Wisla, the following Thursday. The Europa League betting odds reflect this.

The Lilywhites need the confidence boost that a league victory would bring, especially given that their former boss, Mark Hughes, has finally shown his true colours, with regard to his feelings for Fulham. The unemployed manager said that Fulham did not have enough ambition, a trait that eventually forced him to quit the post.
A furious Mohammed Al Fayed, the current chairman of Fulham, retaliated, calling Hughes a “strange man” who is “entirely wrong”.

Next Thursday's match should be an easy one for Fulham. The Cottagers' biggest challenge is likely to come against Dutch outfit, FC Twente, on December 1, rather than against Wisla at Craven Cottage. Two-nil Fulham.
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