A Friday night fixture for Fulham at Nottingham Forest has the making for a feisty feast of football as the evenings begin to get a little frostier. For all in the Premier League, an extended break from the previous fixture came with the passing of Queen Elizabeth and by kick off, it’ll have been 13 days since a defeat at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium giving Fulham a measured start to the season winning two, drawing two and losing two.

For Marco Silva, he’s had nearly two weeks to work with his new signings and his pre-match press conference hinted heaviest at more extensive game time for his summer arrivals beyond Joao Palhinha, Andreas Pereira and Bernd Leno. “They are competing for a place, like the others, and it’s up to me to decide. It’s been 13 days since the last game against Tottenham and they are settling and starting to understand much better the process, the ideas, everything that is important for them to know.”

The major area of question is likely out wide, where Marco Silva has had to play Neeskens Kebano, Bobby Decordova-Reid and young Jay Stansfield, the former duo likely wingers 3 and 4 on the depth chart going into the first game of the season and Stansfield more comfortable up top. Dan James’ somewhat surprising arrival from Leeds at the death of the window provides the vertical threat of the injured Harry Wilson which’ll allow Fulham to reinstate an important part of their attacking play. Willian, a win-win signing for both parties was another surprise signing but one of necessity. Unsettled in Brazil, wishing the return to London whilst Fulham were in the midst of a wide player crisis, it’ll be interesting to see how much juice Marco Silva and his coaching staff can squeeze out of a winger who is now the second oldest player at the club.

A break was perhaps needed for Fulham, who have worked incredibly hard to grind the results they have, in particular the midfield pivot of Joao Palhinha and Harrison Reed who have little in the way of depth behind them. The Octopus and the Ankle Biter as warmly known on the Green Pole podcast, have been a vital part of how Silva’s team has operated in making Fulham hard to play against with exceptional pressing and ball recovery. I’m not sure where I can find physical metrics on the Premier League but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fulham in the top 5 in the majority of the data.

The break won’t just have done Fulham a favour, Steve Cooper’s Forest had a widely-reported busy transfer window trying to retool their squad for Premier League safety. The extra time to work with the players recruited in the summer would have been much welcome as Forest look to bounce back from a disastrous 3-2 loss at home against the third of the promoted sides in Bournemouth from a two goal lead at half time. The Nottingham Forest players and staff will have had to mull over that game for nearly two weeks and it’d have hurt to have lost in that manner at home, a place they’d have wanted to turn into a fortress this season to help secure their status as a Premier League side.

The added break would have been beneficial for both sides in many ways and that case has led to a somewhat unknown feeling about the fixture. How will both sides line up? One thing for sure is probably Neco Williams’ first fixture against Fulham since his loan spell at the club with his play earning a subsequent move for Nottingham Forest, the Welsh wingback has been Forest’s star outlet this season. His performances may even have Spurs wondering whether they signed the right promising young wing back. You hope for Fulham that Antonee Robinson will be ready to go for Fulham with Marco Silva judging him as being a late call for Friday night, his injury being such that he’s been left out of the United States Men’s National Team for their September fixtures. Layvin Kurzawa’s unuseful pre-season and 21/22 campaign leads to him being somewhat questionable as well for the match so should we expect another left back stint from Kevin Mbabu? That’s a major question mark surrounding this fixture, Forest’s best attacking outlet coming up against an uncomfortable left back situation at Fulham.

It seems bizarre that I’ve gone this long previewing the fixture without talking about Aleksandar Mitrovic so here we go. Thanks to @FFC_Facts ‘No team in the PL so far this season have conceded more shots (104) or shots on target (42) in the Premier League than Nottingham Forest.’ Our Serbian will be salivating at the idea of testing Dean Henderson between the sticks at the City Ground as he looks to be the first Fulham player ever to score in 5 straight Premier League matches. Decent players in their own right, Joe Worrall, Steve Cook and Scott McKenna (the presumptive 3 man central defence for Forest) will likely struggle to contain Mitrovic, especially when Virgil van Dijk hasn’t looked the same since.

Forest will want to be at it and Fulham will be typically combative which should lead to a bit of fire and spice on a Friday evening, whilst in the 12 matches for both sides this season we’ve seen just 2 clean sheets which suggests goals will also be coming. This will be a big opportunity for Fulham to go into the international break with three points amongst a more-than encouraging start to the season. And let’s be honest, we’d all have taken 11 points from our first 7 matches, especially when the fixture list had two trips to North London to play in-form Arsenal and Tottenham sides plus hosting the 2nd best side in the division in Liverpool while we are the only sides to take all 3 points from fixtures against Brighton and Brentford.

Up the Fulham, I’m predicting a 2-1 win to Marco Silva’s side.