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Fulham’s Sheffield United and Swansea fixtures selected for Sky coverage

Fulham’s fixtures against Sheffield United and Swansea City have been selected for live coverage by Sky Sports and have been moved as a result, the club have confirmed this afternoon.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s return to Craven Cottage with the Blades will now take place on Monday 20 December, with a 7.45pm kick off. Fulham will face Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday 3 January at 3pm.

Bryan calls for ‘consistency’

Joe Bryan has called on his Fulham team-mates to find some much needed consistency in the Championship by following a fine victory over Swansea with a win at Coventry City tomorrow.

The Whites ended a frustrating winless run with a 3-1 win over the Swans at Craven Cottage in midweek, inspired by Aleksandar Mitrovic’s first half hat trick. Bryan insists that will count for nothing unless Fulham can back it up with another win in the Midlands – although Coventry have won five out of five on their home patch in a fine start to the season.

Bryan told FFC TV:

“Obviously, they’ve started brilliantly. I think they had a tough result last night. That’s the Championship for you. We know that we can win four games in a row and then get three or four stuck past you. We’ve had a couple of tough results in this little block of games but if we can take the point on Saturday, three points on Wednesday and get a victory on Saturday, I think we’ll look back on it as a good run of games.

“I think when you play for Fulham, you have to understand that we’re a very, very talented and good team in this division. You respect the opposition, of course, because they are where there are for a reason, but we know that we’ve got an abundance of quality. Not just the starting eleven, I think you’ve seen over the last few weeks with injuries, playing coming in and doing well, we’ve got real quality in depth and we’ve got to show it with consistency. You can’t show it with spurts, we make to sure we can nail down that consistency now.”

How Fulham got back to winning ways against Swansea

Fulham faced Swansea City having won just one of their last five games after only picking up a point at Ashton Gate on Saturday. The Whites were keen to return to winning ways having lost some of the momentum generated by an excellent August but the Welsh outfit looked like formidable opposition, having reached the Championship play-offs in both of the last two seasons.

Marco Silva went with his usual 4-2-3-1 system, deploying Bobby Decordova-Reid behind Aleksandar Mitrovic, who had missed several stoppage time chances against Bristol City. When they were without the ball, Harrison Reed and Jean-Michael Seri occupied the conventional holding midfield roles filling possible passing lanes and reducing the gap between Fulham’s defence and midfield.

Swansea set up in a 3-4-3 formation, committing numbers high up the field to press Fulham in attempt to pinch possession in dangerous positions. The visitors looked to dominate the ball, patiently seeking out opportunities to exploit any weakness in the home defence. Russell Martin, impressive in his time at Milton Keynes, is the youngest manager in the English football pyramid and is implementing a fresh, possession-based style at the Liberty Stadium.

Martin’s adherence to his principles is admirable but Fulham went in front twelve minutes in the game when Tim Ream’s header found Aleksandar Mitrovic in the area and the Serbian slotted home after turning impressively. There was more than a whiff of offside about the goal, which suggested fortune had smiled on the Whites after Kasey Palmer’s equaliser at the weekend had been allowed to stand.

Fulham 2-0 Swansea City (Mitrovic 12)

Fulham’s second goal came from a slick counter attack which began with a smart interception from Joe Bryan inside his own half. The left back immediately burst forward, looking to exploit a five-on-four situation. Bryan heads inside, fixing Ben Cabnago on him, and opening up space for Neeskens Kebano outside him. Ideally, Ethan Laird would have been able to track the Congolese winger’s run but, after being caught upfield and with the speed and intensity of Fulham’s attack, the right wing back can’t get back into position.

Kebano has time to pick out a cross and there are three white shirts in the area against two Swansea defenders. Mitrovic makes a clever run from behind Naughton to get to the ball first. He finds the far corner that Ben Hamer can’t cover with a clever finish to a fine Fulham move.

Fulham 2-1 Swansea City (Paterson 38)

Swansea had seen plenty of the ball but barely created a chance before Flynn Downes found Joel Piroe just short of the halfway line. The pass into Piroe pulls Tosin Adarabioyo in with the Dutch forward, creating a dog leg in the Fulham back four with space for Swansea to exploit in behind. Seri and Reed are also drawn to the ball – making those gaps even greater.

A sharp turn from Piroe gets him away from all three and offering an angle to pass through to Paterson, who is goal side of Odoi. Tosin being so far out of the Fulham defensive line means that there is a massive space left open to be exploited.

Fulham 3-1 Swansea City (Mitrovic 45)

When Fulham had the ball in defensive areas, Swansea sought to press them really high up the pitch and steal possession in the Cottagers’ half. They had four men pushing high up the pitch but as soon as Ream works the ball to Seri and Fulham are behind the press, the visitors are on the back foot and Fulham can take advantage.

Once the ball gets to Decordova-Reid’s feet and he can turn and run at the Swansea defence, Bidwell is forced into the centre of the pitch. This is because Matt Grimes had been pressing close to the Fulham area, meaning the ex-QPR and Brentford full back gets drawn into trying to fill a gap in central midfield. That frees up space down the right flank for Odoi to gallop into and stretches the Swansea back three.

With Bidwell caught in the midfield and Odoi in plenty of space. Manning is forced to come across and press the Belgian. This, though, opens up space between Manning and Naughton for Odoi to put a cross into and Mitrovic to attack and the Serbian’s sublime first time finish wrapped up his hat trick.

Fulham rediscover their ruthlessness

The headlines following last night’s win over Swansea City were always going to belong to Aleksandar Mitrovic. The Serbian’s superb first half hat trick – the first by a Fulham player since Ross McCormack’s against Nottingham Forest six years ago gave the Whites a commanding advantage and took the peerless number nine above the likes of Clint Dempsey, Gary Brazil, John Mitchell, Jimmy Temple and Johnny Arnold in the all-time Fulham scoring charts. So simply did Mitrovic take his goals you were minded to file away his failure to finish off Bristol City at the weekend as an aberration.

Mitrovic, who appears to be pretty modest and unassuming off the field, was quick to credit his team-mates for creating his chances afterwards and, whilst the former Newcastle forward, was the clearest difference between the victors and Swansea, who are still in transition following the appointment of Russell Martin, he was right to highlight the outstanding displays of three stalwarts who have been bit part players under Marco Silva so far.

Neeskens Kebano, restored to the starting line-up after his lively cameo as a substitute at Ashton Gate, would have a compelling case for man of the match were it not for Mitrovic’s laser-like finishing. The Congolese winger looked full of confidence from the outset looking to take on the visiting deference and he gave poor Ben Cabango, dropped from the Welsh squad for next month’s internationals, a torrid time. Having played a part in the first goal by digging out a cross that was sent back into the danger area by Tim Ream, his purposeful running and precise delivery allowed the hosts to establish a crucial two-goal lead and Kebano, as has become customary, never stopped running in a perky performance.

So potent was his running and effective the end result that Silva must be close to considering the former Genk man as a possible regular in his side. Kebano has never been offered a consistent run in the side, starting just 32 league fixtures in his five years at Craven Cottage, but he seized his chance to stake a serious claim for the left wing spot with a dominant display that brought to mind his mesmerising evening at Millwall last month. With Bobby Decordova-Reid appearing off colour of late and Ivan Cavaleiro hardly pulling up any trees, Kebano looks like the most consistent option at present.

He linked well with Joe Bryan for the second goal, the pair combining fluently down the flank after the full back had nipped in to intercept an ambitious pass from Ethan Laird. The fact that Bryan succumbed to a back problem early in the second half was the only real negative of a successful night, especially when you consider that Antonee Robinson injured a knee in training on Tuesday. With Silva forced to introduce Alfie Mawson and adopt a back three, Fulham’s second half display was one of containment rather than command – but the head coach would have been pleased with the way his side, who have let advantages slip away a little too easily at times this season, saw the game through having soaked up several prolonged spells of Swansea possession.

Denis Odoi shrugged off the setback of being doubly culpable for the goal that briefly threatened to bring the visitors back into the contest by injecting both pace and precision into a brilliant break that culminated in Fulham’s crucial third goal. Silva suggested back in August that the experienced Belgian was not the ideal ‘profile’ to replace the injured Kenny Tete in his line up, but the versatile defender showed a sense of adventure to drive deep into the Swansea half and send in the perfect low cross for Mitrovic to majestically complete his treble. That it came shortly after Odoi had lost his man and then clattered into Paulo Gazzaniga in an attempt to make amends for his error as Jamie Paterson bore down on goal was a reflection of the 33 year-old’s resilience.

Swansea’s admirable commitment to Martin’s preference for both pretty and attacking football was arguably their outdoing in SW6 last night. It allowed Fulham to re-establish their credentials as one of the Championship’s most effective counter attacking sides and, in a pulsating first half display, the hosts looked like scoring almost every time they ventured forward. Achieving this when Harry Wilson, easily Fulham’s most creative player in the absence of Fabio Carvalho, was kept relatively quiet proved particularly cheering. Silva’s side are set up to punish sides on the break and, in this sort of mood, Fulham look fairly formidable.

There are still some wrinkles to iron out as the Whites head to Coventry this weekend, with Harrison Reed understandably a little light on match sharpness having hardly had any pre-season, and the composition of Fulham’s best midfield still up in the air. But this was an encouraging return to form following three recent setbacks and, as Silva always stresses, consistency will ultimately bring the biggest reward.

Modest Mitrovic praises Fulham supply line

A modest Aleksandar Mitrovic heaped praise on his Fulham team-mates for giving him great service after scoring the hat-trick that carried the Whites past Swansea.

The Serbian striker’s second Fulham treble helped Marco Silva’s side get back to winning ways after a week of disappointment and took him to ten goals for the season – but Mitrovic was eager to share the credit in his post-match interview with FFCTV:

“I think it was a good evening. A good win. It was a big three points after two games without a win. We showed both of our sides of our game. We showed in the second half that we could defend after scoring three goals and it was a big three points – so it was a good evening.

“I have never scored a first half hat trick before. It was good – and a very nice feeling. I always say when you have balls and good players around you, the goals will come. I had good service and the last game maybe I have been a little bit unlucky. I hit the crossbar three times, but today almost every touch went in. Today, almost every touch went in. I have to keep working, keep believing and we have one more big game before the international break. We have to use this momentum and try to win another one.

The players that play around me – Bobby, Kebano, Denis and Joe – we have played with each longer for a long time. We know each other well, we know how the other one is thinking and where we want the ball, so they were good balls, good assists and nice goals. The most important thing is the three points. Today was a perfect day.”