Swansea City Vs Fulham FA Cup Special
Friday, 13th Feb 2009 10:21
After sending then holders Portsmouth crashing out of the FA Cup Swansea will be hoping to do the same to Fulham tomorrow.
The clash against the Craven Cottage side has all the hallmarks of another giant killing for Swansea City and over the course of the last two months the Swans have been one of the in form teams in the championship and the club are no longer considered to be the underdogs. Such is the progression of the team even the vastly experienced Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has warned his players of the threat posed by a composed and skilful Swans side.
There is no question that the players come kick off on Saturday afternoon will not be focused on the task ahead and with a quarter final berth at stake should Swansea continue performing to the levels seen in the last month, Fulham could well be on the receiving end of a cup upset. Unlike Portsmouth, the Cottagers will provide a more stern test to Roberto Martinez's side. Then Pompy boss Tony Adams got it wrong tactically but in the former Inter boss, the Spaniard will have a more worthy adversary.
Generating huge television coverage by ITV and international broadcasters even club captain Garry Monk has admitted he has been swept up by cup fever, but has vowed not to lose focus on the task at hand as he told the SWEP, he said “The build-up and media attention we have had this week has shot through the roof. It shows how much this competition means to a lot of people — it is the best domestic competition in the world.
"We can't get too hyped up because you lose focus. We had the same kind of hype for the Cardiff game, but we kept a low profile as players and treated it as a normal game. I know that's a bit boring to say, but it's the way we have to approach this kind of thing.”
Testing himself against the likes of Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora, Monk has hinted he would relish the chance to pit himself against premiership opponents on a more regular basis , he added "We want to test ourselves against the top players and this is a chance to do that — but we can't measure what we would be like in the top flight over one or two games.On paper it would be an upset, but it wouldn't be a total surprise to me as we have a lot of belief in what we are doing."
Being underdogs in the FA Cup has not been the case in the last few seasons after facing a string of non league sides but Swans boss Roberto Martinez is under no illusions that it is the tag Swansea must live with and enjoy as he told the SWEP , he said “Yes being at home can make a difference in the cup, but we are not the favourites. The reality is that we are the underdogs and that's a tag we will enjoy. Fulham have some fantastic international players and I'm sure they will come here and look to impose themselves.
Characteristically underplaying the clubs chances of winning over top flight opposition, Martinez is all to wary of the international experience in the Fulham side as the Spaniard adds "I watched them play Wigan last week as well as a couple of other games and they are a special side. They have big names in every department and three special strikers, so it would be a big surprise if we won.
He added "I'm aware that it's been a long time since we got to the quarter-finals. But what matters to me is that we can be ourselves and we can be competitive. It's great that we are getting national media attention because that's a good sign — it's a reward for what the players have achieved. But if we go out looking to impress because the are cameras here, we will lose focus.It's nice to be able to enjoy the fifth round with our fans and it's good for the players that they will feel comfortable at their own ground."
Bridging the gap between the two sides may be difficult but Fulham boss Roy Hodgson certainly does not believe there is much of a difference between the two sides as he outlined earlier this week , he said “ I don't think the gap makes much of a difference.Look at the results in games this season involving Championship teams even against top Premier League sides.Look at Cardiff-Arsenal, Derby-Manchester United and Swansea-Portsmouth, and I don't think you are looking at a vast difference in one-off matches.”
He added "I think probably over a full season the strength in depth of the Premier League teams and the fact that they play every week at a more intense level might have an effect.I think if Swansea were in the Premier League they might not be in the top four and they might be closer to the bottom.”
"But, having said that, in a one-off game like this it makes no difference. In fact it can even go the other way because they have so much to play for.With the bragging rights on offer in the cup, it can work against you.”
"The cup's important to us and we would love to go as far as we can.We have got a third draw away from home (in a row), but the lads feel they have the ability and the quality to continue in the competition.I'm delighted that we're still in the cup and we will look optimistically towards the game believing we can go further."
The Injury Lists:
Swansea City will welcome back Angel Rangel after the Spaniard served his one match ban against Ipswich last week. Spare a thought for midfielder Darren Pratley who will miss the chance to face his former club with a shoulder injury. Gorka Pintado misses the game after having his hernia opperation. Ferrie Bodde and Marcos Painter round of the injury list for Roberto Martinez's side.
Dickson Etuhu will be out for the Cottagers as will defender Aaron Hughes who is sidelined due to a dead leg. Striker Diomansy Kamara is also out of the fixture. Welsh international Simon Davis is also a doubt with a back injury whist Giles Barnes is cup tied.
Players To Watch
Jason Scotland: What more praise can you pile upon the 29 year old striker? Finding his feet in the championship Scotland has fired his way up the top scorers chart and with it Swansea up the table. It has even led to the former St Johnston man forgoing his international commitments in order to play in the 5th round of the FA Cup.
Andrew Johnson: Fulham's top goal scorer has a good goal scoring record and with three goals in the FA Cup already to his name this season there can be no doubt of the threat posed by the Bedford born striker.
The Form Book Based On The Last Five Results
Swansea City: WWWDW
Man In The Middle
Mr Howard Webb
Planet Swans Prediction : Swansea City 2-1 Fulham
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