LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 13: Zat Knight of Bolton Wanderers challenges Didier Drogba of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Bolton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on April 13, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Fulham open their season tomorrow on the road at Bolton. The game takes place at 3PM UK time and 10 AM EST. The game will be shown on taped delay at 2:30 PM EST on Fox Soccer Channel in the U.S. This is the beginning of the Mark Hughes era and it should be an interesting match-up for the Cottagers.
Bolton are definitely a tough club to beat at the Reebok. Their manager is Owen Coyle. Last season Bolton were 14th in the EPL. Players to watch for Bolton include Gary Cahill, Kevin Davies and newly signed Martin Petrov. This will not be an easy game for the Cottagers. As you know Fulham are not a good road team.
Fulham go into the match with a manager in his first game in charge of the club. They also have the Mark Schwarzer speculation to deal with. However, Fulham bring to the Reebok close to the same team that went to the Europa League Final. This is the beginning of a hopeful season. As I did last year I do my previews with my "keys" to winning. Below are"my 5 keys to victory for Fulham against Bolton"
1. Fuham need to grab the early lead in this match. Fulham have struggled terribly on the road. I think it is vital to get off to a fast start and take control of this match. It is tough to come from behind when you are not at home. I am hoping for a fast start.
2. The goalkeeper is going to have to be at the top of his game. The reason why I did not say it is Schwarzer is he is fighting an injury. He is game time decision. So, whether it is David Stockdale or Mark Schwarzer in net, Fulham are going to need excellent play from this position.
3. Danny Murphy needs to control the midfield. Murphy is usually a key for me because he can really control the game with his passing and getting the ball up to Zamora.
4. Zoltan Gera has to be a strong partner for Zamora.Gera had a great season and turned out to be a good partner for Zamora. He has the ability to score and they need him to be that presence to take some dependence off of Zamora.
5. Fulham need to be aggressive and play more open. Under Roy Hodgson it seemed on the road the team played very defensive and not as open as they would play at home. I am hoping under Hughes they play a more aggressive style on the road. They need to create more scoring opportunities.
This game should be fun tomorrow. I am not sure what to expect from the Cottagers. I think that adds to the intrigue of the game. All I know is I look forward to tomorrow. Let the Mark Hughes era begin.