Stoke City-Fulham Preview
By RYAN WILLOX
STATS Football Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) -- Stoke will hope to improve upon a wretched away record in the Premier League as they visit Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
While Stoke's six draws away from the Britannia actually places them near the middle of the pack in the road-form table, their lone away win - coming at West Brom in December - has them tied with four other teams for fewest in the division.
Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is second only to Manchester City's Joe Hart with nine shutouts this season but has not kept one in his last eight Premier League games. The Bosnian is not expecting his next one to come cheaply as Stoke seek only their second away win at Fulham.
"They have some smart technical players like (Dimitar) Berbatov and (Bryan) Ruiz, who can open you up at any point and can create that bit of magic to win any game," he told the club website. "We always know that it will be a tough game against Fulham. We have had some tough games at Craven Cottage.
"They are very well organized and we will have to keep some of their danger men in check. They are a team that are similar to us in certain ways but play their football a bit differently, so we will need to be on our best form to get a result."
Like Stoke, Fulham suffered an early exit from the this season's FA Cup, and neither side have seen competitive action for two weeks. Several ofStoke's first team, however, played some minutes on Monday when they beat Scunthorpe 3-1 in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
In their last serious action, the Potters beat Reading 2-1, while Fulham played out a scoreless tie with Norwich City. Midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, on loan from Arsenal, made his Fulham debut in the 0-0 draw with Canaries and is ready to get back into action after missing much of the season through injury.
"I think it was just one of those away games where they (Norwich) didn't do much and we didn't do much so we'll have to make sure on Saturday when we play Stoke City that we get back on track again," he told the club website.
"I relish every game. Obviously Stoke is going to be physical with a lot of direct balls into their strikers, but they've also got quality in their side. They've got players who can play football as well, so that's a good mix to have."
Stoke won 1-0 at the Britannia against Fulham in late November thanks to a first-half goal by Charlie Adam. Fulham have won six of their last seven home matches against Stoke going back to 1992. Stoke's lone victory in that stretch was a 1-0 win in May 2010, with Matthew Etherington scoring the winning goal seven minutes from time.
Fulham have won just three of their last 18 Premier League matches after starting out with four wins in eight, and they've kept just two clean sheets in that run. The Cottagers have won just two of their last nine home matches and haven't kept a clean sheet at Craven Cottage since their 1-0 victory over Aston Villa on Oct. 20.
Stoke's win over Reading ended a six-match winless run that saw the Potters collect just two points since Boxing Day. Stoke have lost three straight on the road and are winless in their last five on their travels.
Updated February 20, 2013