Fulham go into tomorrow evening’s televised clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers seeking to round off an excellent week with a win. It certainly won’t be easy as Wolves have stamped their class all over the Championship this season, but the Whites’ superb home form, which has seen them record seven straight wins at Craven Cottage, should give Slavisa Jokanovic’s squad plenty of confidence. The Serbian has plenty of potential options for this mouthwatering encounter after a successful end to the January transfer window and, after he rung the changes ahead of the trip to Bristol City in midweek, I can see further alterations to the starting line-up tomorrow.
The most worrying moment at Ashton Gate was watching Matt Targett limp off with an ankle injury. The former England under-21 international has been sensational since his arrival on loan from Southampton and his seamless integration into the side has allowed Ryan Sessegnon to slot into the left wing position where the teenage protege has proven so dangerous. Hopefully, Targett’s injury is not serious because, if it proves to be, Jokanovic will have to mull over whether to deploy Sessegnon or Denis Odoi at left back. I’d prefer to see Sessegnon stay higher up the pitch – and Tomas Kalas could be restored to the heart of the defence, with Odoi filling in at full back. Should Targett recover from that nasty looking knock, it goes without saying he should resume that promising partnership with Sessegnon down the Fulham left.
Jokanovic also brought in Cyrus Christie and Lucas Piazon with contrasting results at Ashton Gate on Wednesday night. Christie was included to negate City’s potent threat from long throws as well as countering the direct approach towards Famara Diedhou up front as he is significantly taller than Ryan Fredericks, who has sometimes by targeted under the high ball by the opposition. While the Irish international did well – and made the Fulham goal with a wonderful assist for Aleksandar Mitrov – I’d be looking to bring back Fredericks because the Whites look a far more threatening proposition when he flies up the right flank.
Piazon struggled to have much of an impact against Bristol City – and it was probably only Targett’s untimely injury that meant he was wasn’t replaced by Floyd Ayite in the second half. The Brazilian looked leggy towards the end and, against the league leaders, I think Fulham will need to positive and take the game to the opposition. Ayite will occupy a Wolves full back and has the pace to hurt the opposition in behind and I would be looking to include him on the right wing. Piazon has proven himself to be an excellent impact substitute in the past – and, however Jokanovic selects his starting eleven, Fulham’s bench now looks as strong as it has since relegation from the Premier League.
If it is at all possible, I’d keep the central midfield trio intact tomorrow. Fulham look a far better side when Kevin McDonald, Tom Cairney and Stefan Johansen are all together in the engine room as was the case when the Whites proved so devastating towards the end of last season. The captain didn’t have his most influential game against Bristol City, but he is still regaining match sharpness after a spell out injured. Fulham look less predictable with Cairney in the side – and one moment of magic from our playmaker might prove decisive this weekend.
Mitrovic showed us all what he was about at Ashton Gate – with a performance full of strength, power and desire. He took his goal very well (and might have scored more) and I would be minded to reward him with another start against Wolves. The Serbian can do what he always do – wage a real battle with the centre backs for an hour and then be replaced by the likes of Aboubakar Kamara or Rui Fonte. Mitrovic has plenty of incentive to perform well, with a World Cup on the horizon, and I feel that the goals may flow now that he’s opened his Fulham account.
Selecting the team can always provoke a myriad of opinions: so why not let us know what your line-up to take on Wolves would look like in the comments?
MY FULHAM XI (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Fredericks, Targett, Odoi, Ream; McDonald, Cairney, Johansen; Ayite, Sessegnon, Mitrovic.