To say that Fulham are in a precarious situation would be a massive understatement. Ignoring yesterday’s terrible performance in the cup against Burnley, we have been much improved in the league, but with little to show for it. We now sit five points off Brighton in the position above us and have West Brom breathing down our necks. The next two games against the teams either side of us in the league are season defining. There is no escaping that. To be honest we are beyond being able to play well but not win. Those matches against Southampton, Brighton and Newcastle for example were real positive signs of Fulham moving forward, but we can’t afford slip-ups any more. Draws aren’t good enough anymore against certain teams. Win our next two games and the confidence will be back. Win one and draw/lose the other and the fear will still be lingering. Draw or lose them both and we are in full-crisis mode. That might sound like a bit of an overreaction, but given where we are in the table, we can’t afford to let the gap between ourselves and Brighton grow bigger. I fully believe that Newcastle will be in this fight as well, unless they make a managerial change soon, so it’s certainly not just the bottom four in the relegation mix right now.
Let’s start with Brighton. There is something very unbalanced about the Seagulls. They have some incredibly talented players in Trossard, Maupay and Lamptey but they don’t seem to have the right cohesion throughout the squad to sail away from their relegation fears. If he could sort his hot-headedness out, I’d quite like Maupay at Fulham. He could fill the large hole we currently have up front and is without a doubt will be a real danger man for them come Wednesday night. Last time we played them we were very fortunate to come away with a draw with two Brighton goals ruled out rightly for offside. In a pre-VAR world we would have lost that night. Brighton also have the benefit of a win at the weekend, albeit against lower league opposition in Blackpool. As they say, winning breeds winning, so their confidence will certainly be higher than Fulham’s will be based on yesterday’s display. They also won last time out in the league against Leeds, so this is a team in much better form than us. It’s therefore a great chance for us to bring them back down to earth with a bang by taking all three points off them on Wednesday night. After this game they face Tottenham Hotspur and then Liverpool so this is an opportunity for us to really put the pressure on.
As I’ve already alluded to, and pretty much on everyone’s mind at the minute, is Fulham’s lack of a goal scorer on form right now. I say that as I do believe that Mitrovic could still have something to offer us, but we absolutely have to get the service into him. Yesterday he barely had scraps to work off, so really what more could he do? He was unfortunate to have a goal ruled out in the first half as well. I’d like to see what he could do with Lookman and BDR on the flanks and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who has been improving, just behind. We know Tete can deliver a good ball, and Bryan combined with Mitro plenty of times last season, so with those two in the wing back positions we could make Mitro a threat again. Defensively we have to be miles better than yesterday. Thankfully we won’t have to rely on Hector (what on earth has happened to him?) and Ream as Aina and Andersen should be back in after their weekend rest. The triple A team of Aina, Andersen and Adarabioyo has been exceptional since being put together so we need another big display from them tomorrow against a speedy attack.
I have no doubt that results will come from this side. We just need them to come sooner rather than later or it will be too late. Come on, boys. It’s time.