In lieu of a proper preview for this match, and in order to get to know our opponent for this weekend's match a little better, we (or I should say RKW did; I had little to do with it) got together with Russ Goldman of Cottagers Confidential, a Fulham FC blog, and we exchanged some questions and answers. Listed here are the questions we asked with his answers. To see the other side of the conversation, go here. Many thanks to Russ.
CHN: Since we're Americans, and more than that Texans, we have a soft spot in our heart for your Clint Dempsey. Tell us how the Fulham fans feel about Clint. We know the American personality can sometimes be tough to mesh with English teams, but it seems like Clint fits right in.
Russ:To be honest, Clint Dempsey is what brought me to Fulham and the initial reason I became a fan of the club. I think Fulham fans have really taken to Clint. He has scored some key goals for the club. I know many fans will never forget the goal he scored against Juventus in the Europa League last season. I think it might have been the best goal ever scored by an American in a European club competition.
CHN: What's Fulham's biggest fear coming to Saint James' Park? To put it another way, a few reasons why you could lose this match.
Russ:Well, Fulham have not won a road game since last August at Portsmouth. Winning on the road is a major issue for Fulham. They are playing better, but still have not found a way to win. I think some injuries in back are concerning and could make Fulham vulnerable. Both Chris Baird and Carlos Salcido should be out for this match. Stephen Kelly is average at right back and Matthew Briggs is a promising player at left back, but he is very young. Also, Fulham are below average at best at defending set pieces. This has been a concern for awhile for the this club.
CHN: What do you feel are the Cottagers' biggest strengths matching up against NUFC? In other words, give me a few reasons why you could win this match.
Russ: I think Fulham have an emerging star up front in Moussa Dembele. I think he is close to breaking out with a big game. He is a player for Newcastle to keep an eye on. Also, if Danny Murphy has a strong game in the central midfield, Fulham could be on their way to a victory. He is really the engine of Fulham in the middle and feeds the guys up front.
CHN: Aaron Hughes and Damien Duff are both Cottagers now, will they start? How will it be for them to roll back into Tyneside?
Russ: Both players I expect to start and have big roles in this game. I am sure both players will want to put on a big performance against their former side. Both players are integral parts of Fulham and when they are out, Fulham are not as cohesive of a club.
CHN: Cheik Tiote and Joey Barton have been in steadfast control of our midfield, especially over the last several games. They will both serve suspensions this weekend, how well does this bode for Fulham? Gamechanging?
Russ: This could be a huge advantage for Fulham. As I mentioned before, Danny Murphy is really the key to Fulham. When he plays well, the club seems to win. The reason being is he sets up the offense like a point guard in basketball. His passing helps create scoring opportunities for the strikers up front.