The positivity continued as the comfortable nature of Fulham’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa was summed up by a picturesque display by a certain Bulgarian. Fulham outplayed Aston Villa in every department and both the tactical battle and technical battle was won by Rene Meulensteen’s black and white army.
The side now looks strong in defence with the form of Phillipe Senderos who has looked like a different man at centre back. Senderos has always been an intelligent defender with a good all round defensive ability but was lacking concentration and aggression, he seems to have that now and is taking advantage of injuries to Brede Hangeland and Fernando Amorebieta. Also impressing in defence was John Arne Riise, who looks like a left back that wants to play, he enjoyed the space down the left and Aston Villa’s style matched with Fulham’s dominance left him with nothing to note of defensively.
Although comfortable, it certainly wasn’t without working hard, the trojan midfield of 36 year old Giorgos Karagounis, 33 year old Scott Parker and 30 (soon to be 31) year old Steve Sidwell protected their back four epically with Karagounis and Sidwell allowed to have some freedom going forward. There’s more logic within our new 3 man midfield, with Parker being the important water carrier, much like Matieu Flamini at Arsenal; Giorgos Karagounis sprays passes all over the pitch and Steve Sidwell is the engine, making sure he’s both defensively solid and breaking into the oppositions final third, shown by his goal.
The attacking flair and guile was provided by the enigmatic Berbatov helped by width from Ashkan Dejagah and Alex Kacaniklic. Fulham’s number 9 followed his impressive display against Spurs with an even better one against Villa; and the genius looks back. There was one outstanding touch after a 40 yard pass from Karagounis that he killed absolutely dead with ease, and then the pass for the penalty, a first time volley flicked into the space for Alex Kacaniklic to run onto. Dimitar looks rejuvenated, as does Fulham FC on a whole including the fans.
If I was to add one negative from Sunday afternoon, it would be the pretty poor standard of crossing. John Arne Riise and Ashkan Dejagah in particular found themselves in good positions but the cross was just either wayward or over hit. I can remember 3 or 4 times Dejagah was allowed time to take a touch and then cross but it would just miss the box completely. We’re in threatening positions out wide but now we need to make the most of it by getting intelligent crosses into the likes of Berbatov and the joining central midfielders.
It finally seems as though we have got our Fulham back, and the progression from Roy Hodgson’s solid and rigid side to a more fluid and creative force is being provided by experienced coach and unexperienced manager Rene Meulensteen. We have a back bone to our side now, and also playing some of the better football, albeit only in two games, that we’ve seen at Fulham for a few years. To bring the mood back down to earth, Fulham have to travel to Goodison Park to play an Everton side that has lost just once in the league this season. A team that will stay patient on the ball may find it difficult to break us down, and it’s down to us to find the moments to counter attack with the pace and width we have out wide and to use our attacking positions positively with some quality crosses.