There hasn’t been much time for Neil Adams to settle in at Norwich City. Less than a week into his tenure at the club comes Norwich’s biggest match of the season - a game which could significantly increase the club’s chances of staying in the Premier League with a win or could hand the initiative to those below them with a loss.
“Six pointer” or “must win” - use whatever cliché you like. The fact is that the result of this game will have an important bearing on who stays in the division. Fulham, currently occupying 18 place in the Premier League, could cut the gap between the sides to two points with victory at Craven Cottage this Saturday. Felix Magath’s side have what looks like a considerably easier run-in than Norwich, who play Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal in their final four games of the season.
But if Adams, taking charge of his first match in senior football, can lead the visitors to victory, they could extend the gap to the teams in the relegation zone to eight points, which may be enough, even with their upcoming fixtures. Chris Hughton was sacked by Norwich after the home defeat against West Bromwich Albion last weekend - a result which saw Pepe Mel’s side leapfrog the Canaries in the table.
Adams has overseen the development of promising talents Joshua and Jacob Murphy, and coached Norwich to FA Youth Cup success last season. Now the club’s hierarchy require a very different job from him. His immediate brief will be to halt a run of form that has seen Norwich lose six consecutive league consecutive games on their travels. In fact, only Cardiff City have taken less points away from home than the Canaries this season.
Fulham themselves have struggled away from Craven Cottage, with the win at Aston Villa last weekend their first on the road since Boxing Day. Hugo Rodallega’s late header secured only a second league win in 13 games and may just have provided Magath’s side with the injection of impetus needed to stay in the division. Fulham were in a similar situation during the final month of the 2007/08 season, where four wins in their final give games kept them in the Premier League. Norwich travelled to Craven Cottage on the final day of the season two years earlier knowing that a win would ensure survival. They lost and were relegated.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3.07pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Fulham 3 (Bent, Dejagah, Sidwell) Norwich City 0, FA Cup, January 2014
Norwich City 1 (Snodgrass) Fulham 1 (Bent), FA Cup, January 2014
Norwich City 1 (Hooper) Fulham 2 (Kasami, Parker), Premier League, December 2013
Fulham are unbeaten against Norwich City in their last 15 matches in all competitions
Only Cardiff City (seven) have taken less points on the road than Norwich (eight) in the Premier League
The teams have conceded 126 league goals between them this season
Fulham have drawn three times in the league this season - the lowest amount in the league
Neil Adams is taking charge of his first senior game
Fulham to win: 2.15
Norwich City to win: 3.30
Fulham 6-0 Norwich City, Sunday, May 15, 2005
Norwich went into this game, the last of the 2004/05 season, in the knowledge that victory would have kept them in the Premier League. They left Craven Cottage hours later relegated to the Championship after suffering the most comprehensive of defeats. Brian McBride and Papa Bouba Diop had given Fulham a first-half lead which Zat Knight and Steed Malbranque added to after the break. McBride added his second before Andy Cole sealed Norwich’s fate at the death.
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.30pm
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