Sunday, May 11, 2008
Last October while I was visiting London, I saw Fulham FC host Portsmouth in my first-ever English Premier League match. Fulham are one of the EPL minnows, constantly overshadowed by the more elite teams, and usually struggling to stay up, but since I attended that game at Craven Cottage, I've sort of adapted Fulham FC as "my club" (supplanting Chelsea, who play just up the road from Craven Cottage, and are actually "good"!).
Fulham has five American players (which is more than half of the nine or ten Yanks in the entire EPL), so they've been nicknamed "Fulhamerica" by the English sports press. A few weeks ago, Fulham were in bad shape, in 19th place out of 20 teams, safely in "the drop zone" and ready to be relegated. But in the last month, they'd reeled off three victories in a row and could seal their safety with a win away today at the same Portsmouth team I saw them play at home back in October. This is also the same Portsmouth who were preparing for the FA Cup Final next week against Cardiff City, and are safely settled in the middle of the EPL table, so they weren't really playing for anything today against Fulham.
Fulham ended up beating Portsmouth 1-0, which kept them up in the Premier League next season and ended up sending Reading and Birmingham City down instead (along with Derby County who had clinched relegatin long ago). At the top end of the table, Manchester United beat Wigan 2-0 to clinch their second straight EPL title over Chelsea (who drew 1-1 with Bolton), but that's not as important as Fulham staying up!
Way back at the start of the Premier League season, I made my predictions for the EPL this year, which were pretty close. I picked Chelsea to win the league title over ManU (close but no trophy) and picked Derby, Birmingham, and Sunderland or Wigan for relegation (two out of three). Not bad for someone who didn't know the first thing about this stuff just a few years ago!