Fulham 3-0 Burnley

February 10, 2010

It was before christmas the last time I could legitimately enjoy a Fulham performance. That game was Fulham’s 3-0 battering of Manchester United, which was followed by a good draw with Spurs then a terrible run of away form. The Portsmouth match last week was more nerve-racking than enjoyable and the game at Bolton on Saturday pretty dire, only the result softening the blow of another fairly poor performance. Not that I am complaining, Fulham have been crippled both by injuries and an extensive fixture list which pitted them against their most disliked adversaries in the form of both midweek games on cold nights and northern teams who are not afraid to put the boot in.

Alas, last night Fulham stumbled upon a northern team who tried to play football. I have a lot of admiration for Burnley, they play football in an aesthetically pleasing fashion and are attempting to stay in a league well known for fiscal excess with a plan of prudence and measured spending on a shoe-string budget. Maybe it was because Fulham won, but I found myself liking Burnley and their fervent away support, the voices not subdued by a poor away performance. The television cameras kept cutting to jubilant Burnley fans trying to stay warm by dancing around with smiles on faces. They join the list of teams that I never thought I’d like, alongside Hull and Stoke (the latter because I like the fact they have shown no fear of the premier league and have a manager who seems honest into the bargain).

As for the football, Fulham were excellent last night. Something seemed to click; was it the return of some steel in our midfield in the form of Etuhu? Was it the return of the excellent Bobby Zamora? Whatever it was, it is certainly welcome. The game had a fairly quiet start, with both sides determined to play nice passing football. Burnley looked lively when in full flow but ultimately not particularly threatening. Fulham upped a gear and the first goal came. After a good spell of passing, Nicky Shorey fired an excellent diagonal ball onto the head of David Elm, who cushioned the ball into the path of Murphy in the Burnley area. Murphy held off a challenge form a Burnley defender and calmly slotted home. Murphy’s composure in front of goal is a part of his game that I feel has been underrated by Fulham fans (incl. myself) because he doesnt make as many forward runs as he used to, but as with his penalties he seems to have ice running through his veins.

Unfortunately for Burnley fans, the goal was an unfair one. Elm had strayed a good half yard offside before setting up the goal. Fulham’s luck was in and this featured again in the second goal. With Burnley’s Cort struggling with what appeared to be a hip injury, Bobby Zamora capitalised by cutting inside when one-on-one with the defender and firing low and hard at the bottom corner. Jensen did well to parry but Elm pounced on the rebound to record his first goal for Fulham. 2-0, game over. Zamora did appear to be offside in the buildup but the linesman missed the call yet again. Lets hope Fulham have not used up all the luck in one game.

Half time came and went and it wasn’t long before Fulham were 3 up. Zamora was fouled on the edge of the area and took the free kick, passing the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the goal leaving Jensen stretching. A malaise seemed to come over all the players at this point, Fulham realising the game was won and Burnley that it was lost. Fulham began to save energy for the weekend encounter with Notts County and it wasn’t long before Roy rung the changes with Okaka, Greening and Riise replacing Zamora, Simon Davies and Duff. Fulham looked dangerous on the break with Okaka’s pace and Riise recognised this fact, threading a good ball through for Okaka to run on to. Unfortunately Okaka’s shot was a rather tame effort with his right foot when he could have used his left, leading me to assume that maybe he is not so confident on his left side.

As the final whistle blew it was refreshing to know that the three points had been earned off the back of an excellent team performance. I fear for Burnley in the premier league as we were able to control the game all to easily, and as one Burnley fan put it on an internet forum “look like Brazil”.  From here Fulham have an interesting FA Cup encounter with Notts County at the weekend, and I fully expect to see the regulars rested. I have a feeling that Roy may start with Elm and Okaka up top with Riise on the wing which should be both entertaining and enlightening. Whatever happens, at least it now appears that Fulham have confirmed their place in the premier league for at least on more season, and I hope Burnley can do the same.

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