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West Ham vs Fulham - Match preview and team news

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By Bryan Waters

Friday 31 August 2012

After a poor performance away at Swansea in their last fixture, West Ham United are keen to get back to winning ways in their first season back in the top flight. The Hammers face Fulham at Upton Park with the Cottagers impressing in their opening two encounters.

West Ham’s return to the Premier League after a one-year hiatus has started indifferently. An opening day home victory over Aston Villa gave Hammers fans hope, but their performance at the Liberty Stadium left much to be desired. Sam Allardyce will want much more improvement from his side against Fulham this weekend and the Hammers boss could be willing to ring the changes. New signing Andy Carroll will feature, although it is unsure whether the England striker will start the match.

Only Kevin Nolan started in the midweek Capital One Cup victory over Crewe Alexandra and Allardyce may be tempted to use striker Modibo Maiga against Fulham. The summer signing from Sochaux scored the second for Allardyce and may be given his starting chance in the Premier League. Midfielder Mark Noble was the target of interest from Fulham this week, but rejected the chance to move to Craven Cottage and the 25 year old is expected to start on Saturday.

Fulham’s attempts to establish themselves as a top-half side in the Premier League have taken a hit this week with the news that Mousa Dembele has completed a £15m move to Tottenham. With Dembele gone and American Clint Dempsey also desperate to leave Craven Cottage, Jol’s attacking options have taken a major hit in terms of quality. Dembele was excellent in Fulham’s 3-2 loss to Manchester United last weekend and the Cottagers will need to replace him with reports suggesting Dimitar Berbatov is on the verge of moving to West London.

Jol travels to West Ham with his side in confident mood after performing excellently in their opening two games of the season. The Dutchman also has Karim Frei and John Arne Riise available after injury, but could be without Bryan Ruiz who picked up an injury before the defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.

Both sides will be looking to bounce back from losses in their last league outings, especially West Ham who will need to show a fervent Upton Park crowd that they can survive in the top flight. Fulham will have to find someone to create the same attacking spark Dembele has or else they will struggle to get past the Hammers, who enjoy playing in front of their home crowd.

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