Can Boro Stop Fulham?
By Robert Nichols
Friday 17 Jan 2020 09:32:00
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Boro make it three games in six days tonight when trying to take down Fulham at Craven Cottage. No easy task then and especially against the team currently fourth in the division and always a powerhouse in their Thameside home. Yet could it be a good time to play Scott Parker's team now facing up to life for a while without their injured top goalscorer Mitrovic? Can we sneak in and do a job while they are readjusting? Boro are at Fulham tonight 7.45pm kick off.

I spoke with Boro gaffer Jonathan Woodgate last night at the Boro hotel, near Brentford's ground. There were players walking around and chatting amiably. The whole atmosphere was relaxed and positive.

There were only a couple of journalists at the London press conference and Woodgate was keen to emphasise how big an ask it was for his players to perform a third time in a week. And also against a team with such a strong home record. It has the makings of another West Brom or Preston type scenario and we all know how well they went for us. No pressure but fingers crossed we can pull something out again.

Here is the short interview in full:

Fly: We play Fulham, a second game in London in a few days – so you have decided the best way to prepare is by staying down here?

JW: It was important to stay down, after Spurs we would have been getting home 3am/4am. So it wouldn't have been the best preparation, so we stayed down here and got a good night's sleep. Trained a couple of times, the players that played (at Spurs) got a warm down, the players who didn't play got a session. So we got some training on grass and some recuperation and are now looking forward to the game.

Fly: Can we expect you to swap some players again?

JW: Yes I will maybe make a few changes. I will have to look at that. All the players seem OK today but tomorrow is a different day.

Fly: There was massive support at Spurs on Tuesday night and there is probably going to be again on Friday...

JW: Yes, unbelievable. It is expensive coming down, not on just one trip but two trips. It is so expensive for the fans but they love doing it and they support their club no matter what and they find a way, find a way to come down and support their team and it is absolutely fantastic. We are lucky to have supporters like that.

Fly: And Fulham, Premier League until very recently with a lot of players with top flight experience. I remember earlier in the season they were your favourites to go straight back up. So a tough game.

JW: Yes, they are only 6 points off now, they have closed the gap on Leeds and West Brom. I know they are going to miss Mitrovic but they have got players that can come in and fill that void and like you say they are a really good team.

Fly: Craven Cottage has always been a difficult place to go hasn't it, their home form has always been their strength.

JW: Well again it is this year, they have got 26 points. The top one is Preston on 29pts. But it is stacked against us with 3 games in 6 days, not a huge squad and a lot of young players. This will be their second or third game. We might have to look at formation. Maybe go back to a four in the game.

Fly: Craven Cottage is a different world to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the fans are on top of the action, maybe that is one of the reasons that they are always strong at home.

JW: Yes, the atmosphere is always good. One stand down at the minute. But it is not going to be louder than at Spurs, is it? With their stadium, it was an unbelievable atmosphere.

Fly: Was that a great experience for everyone? I know we lost the game...

JW: Yes, a great experience of not giving Premier League players chances because you get punished. They will definitely learn from it and they will learn from the atmosphere. I thought they took it in their stride in the second half.

Fly: And that is a positive, the way we finished?

JW: Yes, we did, well thanks to the fans. That is probably why the fans were singing at the end of the game because they realised we had a go and we didn't just sit back and we tried and we pressed high. When you are giving it a go the fans will accept that.

Fly: It has been some turn around in the season, winning and performing well in really big games. We need to do that again of course at Fulham.

JW: Yes. Of course we need to really turn up but against this Fulham side, who are a really, really very good side in this league, six points off second place. It is going to be difficult. Let's see if my players will give it another go. Third game in six days...

So, can we beat Fulham? We can probably expect a few changes with Pears, Coulson, Saville and Tav all coming back in. I would have thought and quite possibly Roberts in for Nmecha. That still means a core of players starting all three games this week. With the game against Birmingham City next Tuesday. It is a good job we have 11 days off afterwards.

But for this evening, looking forward to the clash under the Craven Cottage floodlights. Can we make it another memorable away result?

Come On Boro and Up The Boro

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