Against Stoke last Boxing Day we won a game in which they had the majority of the pressure but we held firm and struck with two early sucker punches, and it was met with perhaps the biggest collective sigh of relief by Fulham fans of all time. The goals today didn’t come in that order but our win over Wigan shared many similarities, in terms of the game itself and importance to the season, so it should be reacted with in a similar vein. Not pretty, but three points on the board and three points which will make us feel a load better about ourselves. I’ll excersise the same caution as I did when we beat QPR, this garuntees nothing, but a win’s the best we can get out of a game so let’s enjoy it and hope that we can finally get some momentum going.
Schwarzer – 7, didn’t make any outstanding saves, but relieved a load of pressure on our defence with commanding catches from crosses and huge clearances.
Grygera – 7, neat in possession, sometimes got burned for pace but for some reason Martinez took Crusat off and from then on he was largely untroubled. Made some good interceptions throughout the game.
Baird – 7.5, this is a game in which both centre halves will take all the plaudits and rightly so. Having to deal with the bombardment of crosses and attempted through balls with a few desperate blocks thrown in you might expect some error but on the whole they were both faultlress. Baird’s composure and ability on the ball at centre half really does stand out, and after a few impressive appearances now Hughes’ position in the team is, for the first time in three and a half seasons, definately under threat.
Hangeland – 7.5, like Baird had an impressive game. A couple of times he reacted really well to get to headers from second balls after crosses into the box. Strode forward with the freedom of the pitch too, literally, the Wigan players didn’t close him down, but he didn’t take advantage of that at all frustratingly for us (and the players, Dempsey snapped in that second half)
Riise – 6, he’s been underwhelming since he came, I’m sure we all expected much more. A decent game but Moses definately had the better of him, and while we never saw anything of either full back in an attacking sense Riise’s attacking instincts are widely appreciated so to see nothing offensively from him was disappointing.
Murphy – 6.5, hmm, not a good show of dissent when he came off (but it was actually a pretty good substitution in the end). His ball for Zamora for Dempsey’s goal was marvellous though, wonderful, and that is what we know he can do. Maybe should have done it a few more times with the space he was afforded in the first half, usually he relishes conditions like that, but did ok. Wigan started to play around too easily in that second half though.
Sidwell – 6.5, I thought it was AJ but all the reports say it was Sidwell so many kudos to him for setting up Dembele’s goal. Made several vital, vital tackles today when Wigan were threatening. Sometimes he seems like a loose canon but today his tackling really was very good.
Johnson – 6, I hope I never see him play right midfield again and I don’t know what he is doing there. It’s not that he had a bad game, but it just isn’t his position. You can tell, because everything he seems to do is foreign to him, he doesn’t really know what to do. Why not play Dembele there? Regardless, worked really, really hard and he does definately seem to have a bit more flair about his play this season, with step-overs and feints. I can sort of see the logic because AJ’s pretty good at beating his man to the byline then whipping the cross in, so playing him out on the right and you might think that he’d have more of an opportunity to do that because he’s in that position already, but he’s much better doing it off diagonal runs when the defence is out of position.
Dempsey – 7, scored a goalscorer’s goal, a determined run through the middle to get into a cross. Almost fluffed it but it had too much power for Al Habsi. Asides from that worked hard also, and kept possession well in tough situations at times.
Dembele – 7, didn’t create too much and when he didn’t slip in Dempsey I was about to face palm before he slotted neatly low into the Wigan net. Seriously, he skips past players so easily, utterly effortless, but more often than not he doesn’t do anything and it is incredibly frustrating. However, nice goal, and hopefully he’s not too injured.
Zamora – 6, did well for Dempsey’s goal when he peeled off the defenders who were reshaping after coming back from the corner, and had two other good breaks down that left hand side, including when he hit the crossbar with a volley. But overall it was a worrying performance. On a day when we struggled for possession we needed him to hold the ball up well but his touch was poor and he seemed disinterested.
Etuhu – 6.5, came on at a time when Wigan were really turning the screw and helped stem the tide.
Ruiz – N/A, still adapting but even in this brief appearance his game is full of subtleties which points to someone who could be something fantastic. We really really want him to click sooner rather than later though.
Duff – N/A, on for the injured Dembele and just had a couple of minutes.