As it stands, Fulham lie in 17th position, just two points above the relegation zone. Is this almost a case of second-season-syndrome? Obviously we have spent longer than two seasons in the Premiership, but last season we seemed almost an entirely different team from the relegation-threatened one that we were for the few seasons before, and I think it’s fair to say that we took quite a few teams by surprise with the quality and organisation of our play. Are we now suffering because, as has been suggested, teams have now worked us out?
Six points in six games is admittedly relegation form, but as Hodgson himself stated, it is important to look at the teams that we have already played. Even though Fulham finished the season in a superb 7th position, our first six games this season have already included four of the teams that finished above us. How many points were we seriously expected to get from these games?
Portsmouth admittedly were/are in disarray; Chelsea have a vastly superior side to us; and Villa away was always going to be more than tricky, especially considering the injuries we had. Despite the run that saw us beat Everton at home every year, they still finished in 5th last year, and ended that particular hoodoo in the final game of last season; Wolves seem to be a decent side at home, and we always struggle early on in the season away at newly-promoted clubs (see Hull and WBA last season); whilst Arsenal have been playing some superb football this year.
Perhaps a quick look at BBC’s “Lawro’s Predictions” might give some insight as to how we were expected to fare in our matches so far this season.
Portsmouth 0-2 Fulham
Fulham 1-2 Chelsea
Aston Villa 2-1 Fulham
Fulham 1-2 Everton
Wolves 2-1 Fulham
Fulham 1-2 Arsenal
So, if Lawrenson was correct, we have managed to double our expected tally already this season. I know a lot of people (and I include myself in this) don’t think that Lawrenson is exactly the best pundit in the world, but his predictions do indicate a rough guideline of what is expected of certain matches – and his predictions are probably fairly reflected by the odds in the bookies too.
The immediate future isn’t looking too great either. Of our next five league games, only two are at home, including one in which we host Liverpool. After that, we will have played five home games, four of which were against teams that finished in the top five last season. We will soon get home games that will be far more winnable, the first of which being Hull on the 19th. If we struggle in those games, then would be the right time to be concerned, not now. And if we continue to play like we did against Arsenal, we should have no trouble at all this season. It might not be as comfortable as the last one, and we might not finish in the top half, but we should be fine.
No need to panic. At least, not yet.