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Dirty goals, conceded dirt cheap

21 September 2010

Fulham has shown clinical finishing. Unfortunately, it

The obvious story line for Fulham tonight is the health of Moussa Dembele, in serious question after a needless and reckless challenge in the dying seconds of Tuesday’s Carling Cup loss at Stoke City.

That said, the loss to the Potters was the latest instance of Fulham’s troubling early-season issue with conceding really cheap goals. Since Paul Scholes lashed home a quality opener for Manchester United at the Cottage on Matchday 2, Fulham have conceded seven more goals and six of them have been really, really soft.

United’s second goal that day was a Brede Hangeland own-goal when a corner kick sailed unobstructed off his shin and in. On the subsequent trip to Blackpool, the Tangerines’ opener was another needless own goal, this time by John Pantsil, pushing the Cottagers already 40 percent of the way to the Premiership-leading five OGs they conceded last season.

Pantsil also was the culprit against Wolves when, nervous about another possible own-goal, he simply let a cross roll across the face of the goal and get slotted home. Now, over the past three days, Fulham has conceded a goal to Blackburn (albeit thanks to a foul) off a 60-yard ball hoofed aimlessly into the box and two to Stoke on headers off of further Mark Schwarzer misplays.

You’d expect Schwarzer will shrug off what’s been a really shaky week for him. He’s never been dominant in the air, but proverbial vampires fear crosses less than he these last few days. Schwarzer will need to, or he’ll quickly be replaced by David Stockdale when the youngster gets fully healthy again in a few weeks. If Dembele is going to join Bobby Zamora on the shelf for months, Fulham’s really going to struggle for goals and the Cottagers’ ability to keep clean sheets will be a huge factor in whether they’re sucked toward an unexpected relegation tussle.

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