Fulham’s return to the big time turned into a day of frustration as Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace ran out 2-0 winners at Craven Cottage. In truth, Palace had the clinical edge that Fulham didn’t, even though they found themselves without the ball for long stretches of the game. It has to be a lesson learned for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side but all in all there are plenty of things to be positive about.
Here are my player ratings from yesterday’s match –
Fabri – 6
The Spanish stopper was at the end of a barrage of abuse from some fans after the second goal that killed the game yesterday, but I personally feel that the response was quite unfair. Yes, he came out far too early to make the finish much easier than it should have been for Wilfred Zaha, but we could also point fingers at Ryan Sessegnon who had been dropped back to LB at the time, and either of our two centre back who were slow to react. Before the mistake I thought Fabri had a solid enough game. He made seven saves – more than any other keeper in the league this weekend, with the one from Benteke’s header in the first half particularly impressive. However, his positioning at times was suspect, and there were a couple of nervy moments. But let’s remember that our back five had never played together before in a competitive match which may have contributed to this.
Christie – 5
The only player from our back line who had played for Fulham last season was Cyrus Christie, who was brought in during the January transfer window when Fuham knew that Fredericks would be away in the summer. He was very lively going up and down the right flank and was constantly getting into the right positions for a cross but his link up play with Schurrle wasn’t quite up to scratch so more time will be required. However it’s his crossing that was the most disappointing part of his play. He attempted 12 crosses yesterday, more than anyone else in the league but I am struggling to remember any that came off. In Mitrovic we have a monster up front, but that monster needs to be fed. The positive thing is that he is getting into the right positions, but I’d imagine that the final ball will have to become his focus over the next weeks in training.
Le Marchand – 6
I was very impressed with our French full-back. With the signings of Mawson and Chambers, and with Ream and Odoi still to come back from injury, it will be interesting to see who will establish themselves as our centre backs, but I certainly saw a lot to be liked from Le Marchand yesterday. Remarkably he made 84 successful passes yesterday, that’s the seventh highest number in the opening weekend in the whole league. He also made a number of key tackles in the middle of the park to break up play.
Chambers – 6
Similarly to Le Marchand, Chambers will have to be up for a bit of competition for the shirt. His first game in Fulham colours was very positive, though, and he is another who I think will only improve as he gets to know his teammates better. However, he wasn’t tight enough to Schlupp for the first goal and Palace were quick to capitalise. A decent enough start for him, but room for improvement.
Bryan – 6
Joe Bryan looks to have been a very smart buy from Jokanovic. Quick feet and solid in both attack and defence. I can’t really give him more than 6 because he didn’t have as big an impact as he could have, but I don’t think he put a foot wrong. It’s interesting to note that while Christie on the opposite flank had 12 attempted crosses, Bryan only had 4. I’m not sure why we played much more down the right than the left, but I think we need a more balanced approach moving forward, especially as Bryan’s crossing ability looks to be better than Christie’s. Hopefully his ankle injury isn’t going to keep him out of the next game.
McDonald – 5
I don’t think that McDonald looked that comfortable so hopefully we will see an improvement next week. He is one of my favourite players in a Fulham shirt, but I thought that he slowed the play down a lot yesterday, which was one of the reasons why we struggled to create as much as our possession warranted. Looked slightly off the pace when trying to be our defensive shield but I think this is more down to an injury that prevented him from starting preseason as early as some of the rest and not down to ability.
Cairney – 6
For the first 30-40minutes I thought that Cairney looked to have made the step up to the Premier League with ease, but he faded a bit as time went on. However, he looks to have already formed a fluid relationship with Seri and their passing stats are very impressive. Cairney made 93 successful passes yesterday, second only to the 102 of James Milner against West Ham today. Who else made 93 passes you may ask? Jean Michael Seri. It could be the start of something wonderful. Watch this space!
I think Fulham have found an absolute smasher in Seri. As already mentioned, he had 93 successful passes. He also had 119 touches (2nd in the league this weekend) and made 6 tackles (1st in the league alongside a few other players). If we can just get the final ball right, then he could be what makes us tick this year. I was very surprised when we was brought off as I think that he was the best man on the pitch yesterday, but maybe so early in the season he is lacking fitness. I think the best is yet to come from him.
A mixed day for one of England’s brightest talents. He was very lively in the first half and was a real handful for the Palace defence, but disappeared in the second half. When he was pushed back to LB he was too slow to react in the phase of play were Zaha scored, which puts questions over his defensive abilities. However, I saw enough in the first half going forward to tell me that can step up. For an 18 year old making his Premier League debut, he was actually quite impressive. He will do damage to defences this year, but we will have to be prepared to be patient.
Again I saw enough to be convinced that Schurrle will be a real weapon for us this year, but he hasn’t quite built a bond with Christie yet. We weren’t quick enough to get the ball to him, so we lost a few opportunities to set him loose. He set up Mitrovic for a really good chance in the first half and on another day probably would have put us in the lead and he really should have been awarded a penalty in the second half. We saw glimmers of quality so hopefully he only improves.
Mitrovic – 6
Mitro did well to work with the limited supply that he got. He made a few chances for himself when he rolled the defender or used his strength to bring others into the game. On another day he could have bagged a couple so there are plenty of signs that he will have a fruitful season at Fulham. We need to supply him with better chances though, as we can’t have our biggest goal threat having to drop deep to get the ball.
Kamara – 5
AK went back to his ‘bull in a china shop’ style instead of the focused player we had at the end of last season. He could be a real impact sub for us this season, but yesterday I just saw him push people over. He made some great runs and put in a few good challenges, but he will need to become more focused. His erratic-at-times tackles will get him in trouble, so he will need to be careful.
Vietto – 5
Another debut for one of our deadline day buys. He looked very lively but didn’t really manage to get into the game, but he looks like he could be useful for us in the little we saw of him.
Johansen – N/A
Wasn’t on the pitch for long enough to really do anything. He did manage to stick the boot in a few times, though, prompting at least one angry response from Palace. Just like old times, eh? I’m not sure how much we will see of him this year, but I’d like to see him given a chance.