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Fulham 6-2 Birmingham City: Player ratings

Olly Johnson rates Fulham’s performances after the Whites scored six again last night – this time against Birmingham City

Marek Rodak: At the time I thought Rodak couldn’t have been expected to save either of Birmingham’s goals but looking at replays and being slightly harsh, you may suggest he should’ve tipped Ivan Sunjic’s shot behind for a corner. Aside from a comfortable save down to his left at the near post he didn’t have enough to do to justify a higher score. 6

Denis Odoi: Old reliable Odoi was selected over Tete at right back and, as he did earlier in the season, when Tete was injured, he filled in superbly. A few shaky touches throughout the game showed he may have been short of match practice but overall he was solid and with a great low cross he put one on a plate for Kebano to grab our second of the game. 7

Tim Ream and Tosin Adarabioyo: There isn’t a huge amount to say about the two centre backs, two goals conceded might suggest they had poor games but both goals were almost unavoidable from their point of view and chances were kept to a minimum for the remainder of the game. Ream almost got caught out in the first half and a lack of pace without Robinson covering showed his weak side. Tosin enjoyed spraying the ball across the pitch throughout the game, his success rate wasn’t as high as it could’ve been but on the few occasions it came off it was very effective. 7

Antonee Robinson: He’s had a bit of stick this season but here he was excellent and fully merits praise. Solid at the back with good attacking intent and really starting to build a partnership with Kebano down the left hand side. His pace has been causing defences big issues the last few games and although the end product hasn’t always been there for him, he has opened up space to allow others, mainly Kebano, to capitalise. Today though he put in a super cross to assist Carvalho and then helped himself to a goal at the death and what a great finish it was. We thought we might only get five goals today but Robinson was on hand to ensure we got six once more. 8

Harrison Reed: Whilst he did his job well for the majority of the game a silly lunge could very well have resulted in a red card on another day and left us in a spot of bother with Seri missing for the next few matches. He was also the player who you’d expect to have been there to challenge Gardner before he scored Birmingham’s second goal but he’d been dragged out of position. It certainly wasn’t a poor performance but we know he’s capable of much better. 6

Tom Cairney: He’s been absolutely integral to our goal scoring form recently and last night he got in on the action himself as he coolly passed it into the net via the upright. His all round game was brilliant once more, what might seem like a lack of urgency at times is just an incredibly calm player waiting for the right moment to move the ball forward or into space, he does it so well and when on form his tempo can dictate the entire game. 8

Fabio Carvalho: He showed signs of getting back to his best on Saturday and now he’s right back on track. It was a joy to watch Fabio as it has been on many occasions this season. His strength, composure and skill on the ball is up there with the very best youngsters in the world. He drove the ball forward and got the crowd on their feet on a number of occasions, an unexpected but beautifully placed header put us 3-0 up and cruising before he set one of for Tom Cairney on the stroke of half time. His 2nd of the game drew parallels with his goal on the weekend, a lovely shift in weight showed him onto his right foot on the edge of the area before he placed it, once again, into the bottom right. I called it Messi-esque on the weekend and I’ll do the same again today. Man of the match for me and whilst I can’t see him staying I can only hope we get to watch him for the rest of the season. 9

Harry Wilson: A lively game out on the right wing for Wilson, his energy up and down the wing was evident throughout and it was his run fed through by Cairney which set up the first goal, a simple cross which would’ve provided Mitrovic a tap in had the defender not got to it first to divert it in for an own goal. 7

Neeskens Kebano: It was a quiet start for the Congolese winger but a great run from wide across the defender at the front post allowed him to latch onto Odoi’s low cross and dispatch his finish into the back of the net. From then on he was involved regularly down the left and played a part in Cairney’s goal as well as Carvalho’s first. 7

Aleksandar Mitrovic: We scored 6 goals and he had no goals or assists!? I never would have thought this was possible. Despite that, Mitrovic which integral to almost everything we did in our build up play. He held the ball up and battled well in a slightly deeper position at times, drawing in opposition players in numbers allowing us to capitalise on the space that created. Its a side to his game which has progressed significantly since Silva took over the reigns. 7


Bobby Decordova-Reid: He had some bright moments and after last season we know what he can do but a lack of game time seemed to let him down here, he had some great opportunities to be involved in promising attacking play but on three occasions it broke down with him. 5

Nathaniel Chalobah: He quietly got on with his job in the middle of the park, at this stage in the game there wasn’t a huge amount of work to be done but show off his passing range. 6

Josh Onomah: With just 10 minutes left when he came on there wasn’t a big chance to make an impact but he managed to create a few very nearly moments, I think Onomah always does a great job at carrying the ball forward and he did that yesterday at a time where we became a little lacklustre (probably understandable after netting 18 goals in less than three games by this point). 7

Dutch loan looms for Kongolo

Fulham defender Terence Kongolo is likely to finish the season in his homeland, with a number of Dutch clubs considering a loan move according to reports this afternoon.

Marco Silva has made it clear that Fulham are looking to give their injury-prone defender some game time by arranging a loan before the end of the January transfer window and the clearest interest appears to be coming from the Eredivisie. Reports in the Dutch press this afternoon say several Dutch sides are open to taking the 27 year-old on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Kongolo has made just two appearances since turning his loan move from Huddersfield Town, which was curtailed by a foot injury, into a permanent £4m transfer back in October 2020. The Dutch international has played four games for Fulham’s under 23 side but Fulham are now keen for him to prove his fitness with a consistent run of games. A move back home would appeal to Kongolo and his first club Feyenoord are thought to be at the top of the list of suitors.

O’Riley set for Celtic switch

The Athletic are reporting that former Fulham midfielder Matt O’Riley is set to join Celtic for a fee of around £1.5m.

The 21 year-old, who has scored seven goals and contributed six assists in 28 appearances for Milton Keynes this season, left Craven Cottage after turning down a new contract under Scott Parker last summer. Fulham are understood to be entitled to around half of any transfer fee, owing to a sell-on clause agreed between them and Milton Keynes as compensation for their part in O’Riley’s development.

The England youth international joined Fulham’s academy at the age of eight and was long considered one of the club’s brightest prospects. He starred when offered the opportunity to train with Fulham’s senior squad in the summer of 2017 and was handed a senior debut by Slavisa Jokanovic against Wycombe Wanderers in the League Cup. He scored two goals in 27 appearances for Fulham’s under 18 side, 11 in 57 games for the under 23s but managed just five first team appearances, being substituted by Parker having been brought off the bench for his league debut against Reading on New Year’s Day 2020.

Cairney urges Fulham to keep going

Fulham captain Tom Cairney feels another emphatic win will have sent a message to their Championship promotion rivals.

The Whites scored six again as they put Birmingham City to the sword at Craven Cottage last night and Cairney believes the significance of that victory, which puts Marco Silva’s side five points clear at the top of the table, can’t be understated. He told FFCTV after the final whistle last night:

“It has been a good run of consecutive games after quite a big break after Christmas and New Year with the games getting cancelled. It is important that we’ve done what we’ve done – we’ve scored a lot of goals. To win when you’re top of the league is very important. It’s been a while since we’ve done that.”

Cairney still seemed a bit astonished by the fact that Fulham had scored six for the third game in succession, but believes Silva’s footballing philosophy always gives them a chance of grabbing goals.

“No, you can’t expect it. It is a very difficult, difficult league. We’re very good going forward, we always create chances and at the minute we’re putting them away. It’s delightful to play in.”

He was disappointed that Fulham let in Ivan Sunjic’s strike right on half time and felt the home side might have taken their foot of the gas at times during the second period.

“It is really disappointing to concede that goal just before half time. We could have made it a lot more comfortable for ourselves going in at 4-0. The boy scored a wonder goal – it is what it is. The second half was a bit cagey and it was a little bit tiring. It was the third game in a week. We got over the line in decent style at the end.”

The playmaker, still getting back to match sharpness after ten months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury, was pleased to get on the scoresheet again himself.

“Yeah, it was nice. It was nice hitting the back of the net. It’s always nice scoring at the Cottage. It was a great feeling. One of six – that was alright!”

Cairney knows that Stoke City, who are just four points off the play-off places, will pose a very different challenge on Saturday.

“It’s not going to be easy. It is another quick turnaround. Stoke won their last game, they’re playing decent. They are having a decent season – but I think we’ll go to any ground and try and win the game.”

Fulham’s fantastic goal glut

Last night’s battering of Birmingham City produced another wave of ridiculous goalscoring numbers – which reflect Fulham’s renewed sense of adventure under Marco Silva. Here are just a few of the extraordinary stats:

  • Fulham have now scored 70 goals in 26 Championship matches this season. For reference, Slavisa Jokanovic’s 2017/2018 promotion winning team managed 79 in 46 regular season fixtures. Even when Jean Tigana’s side romped to the Division One title in 2000-01, they only scored 90 in 46 games.
  • Fulham are the first English second-tier side to score at least six goals in three consecutive league matches since Everton in February 1954.
  • They are the sixth side in English league history to score at least six three times in a row following in the footsteps of Small Heath (1893), Plymouth (1925), Everton (1954) and Chelsea (2010).
  • Fulham have scored nineteen goals in their last three matches. Barnsley have only scored sixteen all season.
  • It is the first time Fulham have scored at least six goals in three successive matches in the club’s history.
  • Fulham average a goal every fourteen minutes in 2022.
  • Fabio Carvalho has now scored seven goals this season. He is the second-highest goalscoring teenager in English league football – behind Swindon Town’s Tyreece Simpson, who is on eight.

Such a run of goalscoring will likely never be repeated – these are special times at Craven Cottage.

Carvalho ‘having fun’ with Fulham

Fabio Carvalho enthused about the ‘fun’ he is having playing in Marco Silva’s Fulham side after bagging a brace as the Whites thumped Birmingham City 6-2 tonight.

The teenage playmaker doesn’t appear to be distracted by tabloid talk about his future as he followed up a fine individual goal against Bristol City on Saturday with two more against the Blues – the first a fine header and his second a trademark finish from the edge of the area just when Lee Bowyer’s side had inched their way back into the contest. Carvalho told FFCTV after the final whistle that has been delighted with the way the team have responded to their enforced festive break:

“It’s been a great start to the year. I feel like we’re starting how we started the season – strong, with confidence. We’ve been playing with such great style, like going forward, getting goals as well as being tidy at the back. That’s what the manager has been trying to drill into us and that’s how we’ve been performing.”

Carvalho highlighted the fact that he feels Fulham are able to shift through the gears and score goals when the opposition are making it hard for them – as evidenced in an eight-minute spell before half-time tonight.

“I feel we have it in us. When the game’s not really going the way we want it to go – in terms of scoring goals – at any moment we can just turn it on and switch. That’s a great attribute to have.”

He was delighted to find the net with his head tonight from a fine Antonee Robinson cross.

“It was good. The cross was just perfect. I’ve been trying to work on my heading because it is not one of my greatest attributes. Today, I just went for it – and it went in the goal. Something I’ve been working on and it was my first header in a long time.”

The young playmaker also felt his second goal was the culmination of hard work on the training ground – and he admitted he was relishing playing in such an attacking Fulham side.

“It’s just something I’ve been trying to add to my game. Even when I drift out to the left, come inside and try and find that corner like I’ve been doing – so hopefully I’ve get more goals like that. It is fun. Getting involved, not just the goals but playmaking. I’m having fun. It’s helping having a front four contributing, putting in a shift and it helps to have Mitro – he’s scoring half our goals at the moment!”