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Season opener: Bolton out of the gates with a win?

13 August 2010

The bad news: Over the last five Premiership campaigns, Fulham is a grotesque 9-34-52 (W-D-L) away from Craven Cottage. Even in 2008-09, when Fulham finished seventh, the Cottagers only picked up three wins (and 16 total points) on their travels.

The good news: Fulham won its season opener last year away from home, albeit at future 20th-place finisher Pompey, so maybe lightning can strike twice. Also, the Cottagers have picked up points in three straight visits to the Reebok, with a pair of 0-0 draws sandwiched around a 3-1 win in 2008-09.

It won’t be easy this time around, though. As mentioned earlier, Bolton was very tricky at home last season and has more offensive talent at its disposal this season, including dangerous winger Martin Petrov, who will be running at a slightly banged-up Fulham back line.  Plus this will be the first live runout under Mark Hughes and we have a disgruntled (and ailing) goalkeeper in Mark Schwarzer, so the potential to allow a cheap goal that could turn the affair is higher than you’d like.

Bolton is one of those peer teams that a club like Fulham wants to beat at home and take a draw from away, and I’d be satisfied with a share of the spoils tomorrow. The season-opening nine-game stretch includes trips to Blackpool (their Prem home opener), Blackburn, West Ham and West Brom, so chances are here for Fulham to grab some valuable road points early. They might need them with United, Everton and Spurs all coming to Southwest London in the first four at home. We’ll know a lot after the first 9-10 games about how serious Fulham’s designs are on a Europa League bid…

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