Premier League Preview: Fulham vs Norwich

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  • Fulham are unbeaten vs Norwich in last five meetings
  • Norwich are winless in last 13 matches against bottom-six teams, with six losses
  • The sum of the table positions of Norwich’s remaining opponents is 14. Fulham’s is 42.

An enormous relegation battle takes place at Craven Cottage Saturday at 10:07am ET on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

18th vs 17th is as crucial as it gets, and neither team can afford anything less than three points.

Neil Adams will debut as Norwich’s caretaker manager, taking over for the recently fired Chris Hughton.  It’s still somewhat surprising that Norwich would make such a drastic move with this enormous fixture looming, but nonetheless the managerial change was made.

Fulham sit five points behind Norwich, but with the Canaries’ brutal remaining schedule, a win would presumably put the Whites in control of their own destiny.


After this match, Norwich must finish their season against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal.  Meanwhile, Fulham’s stretch run consists of Tottenham, Hull City, Stoke City, and Crystal Palace.

Injuries will play a part in the match no doubt. Fulham will be sweating a pair of central defenders, with Dan Burn likely out and Johnny Heitinga a question mark after coming off early in last week’s win over Aston Villa.  Norwich, meanwhile, will still be without Leroy Fer who remains sidelined with a bum hamstring.

What they’re saying:

Robert Snodgrass on Norwich relegation fight: “People speak about five cup finals. We’ll approach every single game believing we can win the game and it’s our cup final. There’s no hiding place. Let’s go and have a go.”

Norwich majority shareholder on Adams: “He was always one of my favourite players,” Smith said. “He was the best penalty taker, the best pundit when he retired and now he’s the best manager – he is wonderful.”

Fulham manager Felix Magath on Norwich: “For us it doesn’t matter who is the opponent because we have only important games now, but Norwich have a very bad schedule. They have very, very difficult games ahead. They’ve changed manager now and that will give them new energy and so we have to be careful. They will fight for 90 minutes.”


There’s no doubt that a new manager can give a team a boost, but such a critical change at such a critical time is hard to back. Norwich struggles against Fulham historically, and the Whites are beginning to settle under their new boss.  With so much on the line, it’s easy to see lots of attacking play and lots of struggling defenses.  3-2 to the home side is a tempting play.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.