Jol backs Fulham to return to form
Martin Jol admits Fulham are in dire need of a goal to kick-start their season after going almost five hours without scoring.
After starting the season brightly despite a number of high-profile departures, the Cottagers' lack of squad depth has been brought into sharp focus.
The 1-0 defeat of Aston Villa in mid-October was the west Londoners' last victory, meaning they face Newcastle on Monday night without a win in seven attempts.
Fulham are also two minutes shy of going a full five hours without scoring and Jol knows his side need a morale-boosting three points.
"I don't think it was a big problem before the Sunderland game (where Fulham lost 3-1) so for us failure and success is an unbelievably thin line," the Dutchman said.
"We had a loss after that against Stoke, then we had a draw at Chelsea and lost against Spurs so everything happened in two weeks.
"We have to pick up ourselves and pick up some points.
"Even in the first half against Spurs we had three or four chances - more chance than they had, more attempts on goal.
"Against Sunderland, for example, before Brede Hangeland's red card, I thought we were the better team.
"That was probably the biggest disappointment because those three points would have given us 20 points.
"It all started on that day and we got injuries to Bryan Ruiz and Alex Kacaniklic so after that we had to change things and I feel we are good enough to come up with a solution."
Jol can welcome Hangeland and Kacaniklic back tomorrow from suspension and injury respectively, although Ruiz remains sidelined after suffering setback in his recovery from a hamstring complaint.
Veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is set to start again tomorrow despite some questioning his display in the 3-0 defeat to Tottenham, where he was at fault for Sandro's opener.
"It is always the same," Jol said. "Three weeks ago we were all very happy at Fulham and two weeks later the situation totally changes.
"It is the same with goalkeepers. You make one mistake and everyone will doubt your quality and talk about it, but he is strong enough.
"He is a very good goalkeeper. He saved a lot of points for us so he will be back."
Alan Pardew hopes the impending return of the mercurial Hatem Ben Arfa can spark Newcastle into life.
The 25-year-old France international, one of the few Magpies to shine on a regular basis during a difficult start to the campaign, has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury.
His pace and invention proved potent weapons during the early weeks of the season, and when he joined compatriot Yohan Cabaye on the sidelines Newcastle were robbed of much of their spark.
Ben Arfa could be one of several big names to return to the side at Fulham and that would represent a significant boost for Pardew.
"If he is fit enough to play, it would be important because he's a good player - a great player," Pardew said.
"If there was one defender to beat and I had to choose a player too take him on beat him, it would be Hatem. That's his real strength."
Ben Arfa was already on the books at St James' Park when Pardew arrived two years ago having been signed on a season-long loan deal from Marseille by predecessor Chris Hughton.
However, he was at home in France recovering from an horrific double leg fracture suffered in just his fourth appearance at Manchester City on October 3, 2010.
Pardew pushed through a permanent deal during the following January despite the midfielder being months away from a return and having seen him only second-hand, with his performance and winning goal at Everton a particular highlight of the manager's research.
Asked what had prompted his decision, he said: "It was the tape of the Everton game and the goal.
"The little history I did about him in France was enough to convince me that he had massive talent.
"It was just a question of whether I could work with him and get into his head, and I felt I could do that with the experience I'd had of Yossi Benayoun, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano, Teddy Sheringham, and fortunately it seems to have worked out."
Pardew will hope to have not only Ben Arfa but also Davide Santon, Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Gabriel Obertan and Demba Ba back in harness at Craven Cottage as the Magpies attempt to build on last Monday's 3-0 home victory over Wigan.