Why Fulham’s next seven fixtures are season defining

by alandrewett on February 6, 2018

Fulham’s recent revival has been pleasing for all of us to see and I’m surely not the only one who believes Slavisa Jokanovic’s side is on the cusp of realising their true potential. The deadline day arrivals of Cyrus Christie and Aleksandr Mitrovic have given the Whites’ squad some real strength in depth, which could help a first time in fine form push on and finish the season in fine style.

Bolton Wanderers are up next on Saturday and that will not be easy, but if Fulham can keep their 100% start to 2018 going this weekend, the following six fixtures that see Jokanovic’s men host Aston Villa, travel to Bristol City, welcome league leaders Wolves to Craven Cottage, take on second-placed Derby County at Pride Park, entertain Sheffield United and go to Preston North End will arguably decide what the Fulham faithful can expect in May. In the reverse fixtures earlier this year, the Whites only claimed five points from a possible eighteen – and Jokanovic will demand a much higher return if his charges are to sustain a serious push for promotion to the Premier League. The Whites are certainly full of confidence at the moment and, having registered six straight league wins at home, Jokanovic has succeeded in turning Craven Cottage back into a fortress.

The head coach’s tinkering with his starting line-up has also paid dividends. The return of Marcus Bettinelli between the sticks has certainly made a difference with the Fulham academy graduate making critical saves at crucial points in recent matches. Bettinelli’s aptitude under the high ball is still fairly suspect for my money, but results have improved and you can’t argue with the additions to the clean sheet column, which was fairly blank earlier in the campaign. The earlier than expected return of Lucas Piazon has also been a real boost with his goals and assists in recent outings – and it’s a joy to see him back.

One of the highlights of the season so far for me has been the performances of Denis Odoi, whose versatility across the back four has been vital when Fulham were short of defensive cover. The Belgian defender has become ‘Mr. Reliable’ and doesn’t look out of place anywhere across the back line. That seamless ability to slot in where he’s needed in what has become a miserly defence could prove pivotal if he is needed during the upcoming run of tricky fixtures.

With the team improving game by game and acquiring points at a steady rate, it feels good going into games with opponents fearing Fulham again. We can’t afford to underestimate an improving Bolton side on Saturday as they are fighting for survival, but I am hoping our class can prevail to deliver six wins in six. We can then head into a crunch clash with Aston Villa at Craven Cottage looking to make it a magnificent seven against John Terry and co.

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