Fulham at Wembley this week as we once again begin the process of getting used to our new home from home which unexpectedly looks rather like our old H from H.
Regrettable, frustrating and annoying as it is, without hopefully being accused of stating the bleedin’ obvious, we just have to get on with it. At least there is no ‘curse’ to distract us this year.
Who will be hoping to find us staring wistfully into the middle-distance dreaming of cheese rooms and tunnel vision? Why The Cottagers of course.
Slaviša Jokanović’s men have made a habit of starting slowly in the last couple of seasons and last week’s home defeat to cuddly Crystal Palace suggests that it’s a habit they’ve yet to shake off. However, judging by Match of the Day at least, they had the better of the game for long periods and were unlucky to bump into Wayne Hennessey on a good day. Mitrović looked lively, Seri solid and Schurrle (don’t call me Shirley – Frank Drebin) lively on the right.
At the back is where they looked cumbersome with the centre back pairing of Chambers and Le Marchand appearing shell shocked at the sight of speedy competent forwards running at them (I’m thinking Townsend and Zaha rather than Benteke). Mawson may come in this weekend with Fosu-Mensah also an upgrade at full-back.
In midfield Cairney, Sessegnon (take a look around, here’s what you could have won), Seri, McDonald and Schurrle try and make openings for lone striker Mitrović. The Serbian is an interesting player having ripped up the Championship after doing bugger all apart from get in trouble in the Premier League with Newcastle. Fulham have a lot of expectations riding on him.
Last week’s win at St James’ Park has been given a bit of the ‘meh, it’s only Newcastle’ treatment but personally, and I may be proved wrong, I think it was an impressive display. Not only was our side full of knackered World Cuppers, the Geordies are a better side than last year, where only two of the top six took all the points.
The loss of Son to Asian Cup is unfortunate but it gives another chance to Lucas to prove that he can make a difference, which surely he can judging by what we’ve seen from him so far. He’s quick, glides past people, is better in the air than expected and can score goals as we’ve seen in pre-season. Finding his best position within our set-up may be an issue, but Poch bought him for a reason, and let that reason be goals.
The absence of decent and fit central midfield players combined with the ‘clean slate’ being offered to Toby Alderweireld must mean that there’s a chance that we may revert to three at the back. Surely? Please? Oh go on, try it. Our formation switch of a couple of years ago was the key to our strong run in the second half of the season and given the quality of the players we have able to play in those positions, Jan, Sanchez and Toby, it must be a viable alternative, and a positive one as well with Davies and Aurier/KWP pushing back Schurrle and Sessegnon, two of Fulham’s most likely sources of danger.
It’s more probable that Poch will stick to last week’s formation but with Dembélé coming in for Sissoko if there is any change.
What we need of course is for Harry to shake off his torpor and get back to his bustling self. His goals come from his talent of always finding an opportunity to shoot, something he didn’t do last weekend.
Anything other than a win would be a disappointment but most of all, we’d like a bit of a show to put what has been a bit of a frustrating week behind us.
Anthony Taylor is the ref.
Have something to tell us about this article?