A point a piece, one goal for and one goal against for both sides going into the second game of the season. Whilst it’s tough to make predictions at this stage in the season I’d like to think the early signs point to a Fulham win. Considering Derby’s late scramble to put a team together last weekend, Huddersfield (despite a slightly Covid ravaged squad) may be slightly disappointed to have only picked up a point and after their twentieth place finish last season, they have some work to do.
However, it won’t be plain sailing for Fulham at The John Smith’s Stadium as Huddersfield certainly have enough quality to cause some issues. They managed seventeen shots last weekend weekend, the third best of anyone in the division, although it’s hard to determine whether or not this was down to a poorly organised Derby defence. One player to watch out will be Sorba Thomas, the 22-year-old winger impressed on his Championship debut against Derby, winning man of the match and assisting Huddersfield’s leveller. Fulham will want to avoid conceding cheap free kicks and corners considering his dead ball ability. Another one to keep an eye on will be the one-time perennial Fulham transfer target Jordan Rhodes, who joined the Terriers this summer. Whilst the veteran might not be as potent as he once was, netting 7 times in 36 appearances for Sheffield Wednesday last season, he can definitely pose problems and has a strong scoring record against Fulham, finding the net three times in five league outings.
Our opening day result against Middlesbrough was a tough one to take. Fulham were 1-0 up with 70% possession around the 70-minute mark only for a lapse in concentration to lead to Boro’s first shot on target which found the bottom corner. Before Marc Bola’s intervention, Fulham had put together a convincing display, looking comfortable at the back and in control all over the park, the only thing missing was a second goal, which could easily have come with a little more incise passing in the final third. Considering Marco Silva has been with the side for little over a month it was incredibly pleasing to see some quick passing and progressive forward play which he has already instilled in the team and I would expect that to only get better from here. With Reed back to full training and likely to play a part, I’d expect us to make it tough for Huddersfield to get through our defence too often and if we can take the lead as we did last weekend, the signs are there that we have the ability to kick on and this time grab another goal or two especially if Mitrovic can regain some form which I’m confident he will do sooner rather than later.
Whilst this could be a tough game on the road, Fulham have a fine record against Huddersfield since 2014, winning seven out of ten matches and losing only once, towards the end of Slavisa Jokanovic’s reign. I believe we’ll have too much for Huddersfield again and if we grab the first goal I think we can see the game out this time, I’m going for a 2-0 win to Fulham. I wouldn’t make too many changes to the line-up that we saw last weekend but if Rodak is available once again then I’d like to see him start in goal (although I’m not convinced Silva will agree). It may seem harsh to drop Gazzaniga who in all honesty didn’t have a whole lot to do and certainly didn’t do anything too wrong (maybe he could have caught a couple of balls into the box instead of punching), but if Rodak can reproduce his 19/20 form then I see no reason why he shouldn’t be our starting keeper. I would also make a change at left back. There has been much debate about who should start between Bryan and Robinson and defensively I feel there is not a massive amount between them but I feel Bryan has more to offer in attack and could bring the best out of Mitrovic once again after assisting him six times in the 19/20 season. I also thought he looked very strong against Charlton when he came on and made a difference down the left-hand side.
MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Tete, Bryan, Adarabioyo, Ream; Francois, Onomah; Wilson, Kebano, Carvalho, Mitrovic.