Slavisa Jokanovic has warned his Fulham players that they will be punished for any overconfidence at Ashton Gate tomorrow night and he is expecting a tough test from Lee Johnson’s ‘aggressive, strong and fast team’.

The Whites travel to Bristol on a ten-match unbeaten run and full of confidence after Saturday’s impressive defeat of promotion rivals Aston Villa, but the Fulham head coach has not forgotten how clinically the Robins exposed his side’s frailties during a ruthless 2-0 win at Craven Cottage last October.

Promotion-chasing City might be experiencing some jitters after throwing away a 3-0 lead at home to Sunderland and surrendering a two-goal advantage at Leeds on Sunday, but Jokanovic told Fulham’s official website that his side will face a stern examination of their promotion credentials tomorrow night.

It’s a really complicated game for us. We are going to find an aggressive team, a team we were not especially successful against when we played them. They’re very strong and fast in attack, pressing with the ball, pressing after they’ve lost it. And at set-pieces we must be aware and care about small details in this game.

We have good momentum, we must trust in ourselves, we must trust we can play good football and fight to try and find our best performance. The next game is the most important one, and the next game is the Bristol City one, and we must be ready and push hard to come back with the points from Bristol.

Jokanovic professed himself delighted with the way his new-look squad approached the win over Aston Villa and reiterated that he is likely to be forced to use most of his players during the run-in.

I am really satisfied with the mentality of my squad, not only the eleven players who started the game. My experience in this competition in the past, when I got promoted one time with Watford, was that I used many players from my squad. I cannot survive three games in one week with 11 players. Now we have more options, I have important players in different lines of the team.

Our expectations are high and we expect we can repeat our good performances, we can play good games with different players. I trust that we can all together do a great job and I expect the individual quality of all these people will serve the team.

The Fulham boss also offered words of praise for the club’s supporters, with more than 1,500 fans making the journey to Ashton Gate for the rearranged fixture tomorrow night.

We must be satisfied because tomorrow we are going to have 1,500 of our away supporters. They push us many times and I am sure they are going to push us again and fight with us for the new points. They are always very important for us. At the Cottage now it’s better, the atmosphere feels different.

 

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For my money, Fulham’s 2-0 victory over Aston Villa on Saturday was one of the most complete performances of the season. Everyone expected Steve Bruce’s to try and contain and catch Fulham on the counter attack but, as it happened, Marcus Bettinelli didn’t have too many saves to make. Every man that wore the white shirt on Saturday can be extremely proud of the shift they put in – and the statement that their display sent out to the rest of the Championship.

The scoreline was certainly pleasing but it definitely didn’t flatter Slavisa Jokanovic’s side. If anything, as the head coach suggested after the final whistle, his team would entitled to feel a little disappointed they didn’t grab a third or fourth goal that would accurately reflected the way the Whites ran through the remnants of the visiting defence in the closing stages. Arguably the loss of Jack Grealish and Albert Adomah made a difference to the strength of the side Bruce was able to put out a side in the middle of a seven match unbeaten run were simply second best all afternoon.

I’ve written before about why the Fulham fans have really taken to Ryan Fredericks and the right back was superb both in the timing of his tackles and his contribution in the final third. Fredericks’ driving run down the right was the catalyst for the crucial breakthrough after half time, with a perfectly measured cross finding young Ryan Sessegnon in the sort of space he hadn’t been afforded in the first period. It surprises me that Jokanovic’s tweaking of his tactics at the interval hasn’t been remarked upon more. Both Ayite, who added the initial thrust to the move that led to Sessegnon’s pivotal strike, and Sessegnon drifted inside to create the space for Fulham’s marauding full backs – and the impact both Fredericks and Targett had with their forward runs in the second half was unmissable. With Villa overloaded in the centre of the park as well, it was only a matter of time before their ageing central defensive partnership caved in.

My highlight of the whole encounter had to be how much of a nuisance Aleksandar Mitrovic proved to be for the Villa defence. The Serbian striker might have been a surprise choice to lead the line from the start, but he bullied John Terry and James Chester throughout. His impressive link-up play illustrated how successfully he has settled in already. One of the problems with the January transfer window is how quickly new acquisitions are expected to get up and running, but Mitrovic already looks like he might be the final piece of Jokanovic’s promotion puzzle.

It should go without saying that these three points were simply that – a creditable victory against a promotion rival, but they will deliver another jolt of confidence as Fulham prepare for the next fixture in a pivotal run of matches. Playing to Jokanovic’s blueprint, the Whites shouldn’t fear anybody in the Championship as they showed on Saturday. Bristol City will be another big test tomorrow night, but the one thing you can count on with Jokanovic is that the Fulham head coach will ensure his players keep their feet firmly on the ground.

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Tweet Slavisa Jokanovic moved to downplay the importance of Fulham’s win over Aston Villa by insisting that his side had not won anything more than three points after the win at Craven Cottage this afternoon. The Fulham head coach reflected on the fact that he was not left lamenting the Whites’ failure to finish in front […]

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