Under söndagen ska Liverpool bege sig till London, för att möta nykomlingarna Fulham på Craven Cottage. Scott Parkers lag har fått en ganska tuff start på säsongen, men har under de senaste omgångarna börjat komma in mer och mer i Premier League-tempo. Fulhamsupportern Dylan Chavasse(@dylan_chavasse) berättar här om hur laget hanterat återkomsten till finrummet.
1. You are back in the Premier League, tell us a bit about the way back from Championship.
We got off to a tricky start in the championship, and suffered losses against Barnsley, Nottingham Forest and Hull. But we had several good runs of form and as the season went on we developed as a team. Particularly after lockdown we had a good run of wins, having suffered losses to Leeds and Brentford, two teams around us in the hunt for promotion. It was always going to be a tough to come back up at the first time of asking, but we played excellently against Brentford for a most satisfying win in the final at Wembley, with Joe Bryan scoring 2 brilliant goals.
2. What are your thoughts on the start of this season? Are you satisfied with the teams performances and the amount of points you have gained?
The start of the season failed to meet expectations, all we were hoping for as Fulham fans was a few points from our opening fixtures, but we lost all 4 and played particularly badly against Aston Villa. It looked as if we had made the same mistakes as our last season in the Premier League and that we’d be heading straight back down, but over the last few games we have gelled as a team and picked up good wins at home to West Brom and away against Leicester. Even against Man City this weekend, I didn’t think we played too badly- and if we continue to play like we have been doing I’m hopeful we can stay up this season.
3. How would you describe the way Fulham plays? Strengths/weaknesses.
Against weaker teams, we tend to play a possession game, based on passing our way through opposing teams. It is something that works to great effect in the championship, for example last august we beat Millwall 4-0 and completed just under 1,000 passes. We have got promoted twice using this style. However, in recent weeks we have had more joy playing on the counter attack, with a number of fast attackers such as Ademola Lookman and Ivan Cavaleiro able to get down the flanks, as well as cut inside and cause central defenders trouble. We have to play like this in the Premier League, as opponents capitalise on any mistake- so it is vital to move the ball forward fast when we get the chance.
4. It is almost two years since you appointed Scott Parker as your manager, how do you rate him?
Personally, I have always been in support of Parker, and I think he’ll blossom into a great manager one day. You can see he really cares about our team and the performances, and as an ex-captain he is well liked by many of the back room staff at the club. However, many fans aren’t as patient and have called for him to be sacked, especially after losses last season when people thought we should be winning the league at a canter (similar to how you did last season). But, the facts don’t lie and he did incredibly well to get us back to the premier league at the first attempt even if he did have a talented squad at his disposal. There are many teams who get relegated and struggle to bounce back in a few seasons, let alone straight after.
5. Which players will be most important to you this season?
I think our most important players this season will be keeper Alphonse Areola, defender Joachim Andersen and winger Ademola Lookman. All 3 are new signings and have already made an impact on the team. Areola will be vital if we are to stay up, his excellent goalkeeping ability has already kept us in games we would have lost otherwise. He played for Real Madrid last season and this proves his undoubted quality. Last time in the Prem, we had a real problem with leaking goals, but it looks like that may not be the case this time round. Andersen, a Danish defender, arrived on loan from Lyon and has captained the side in the last couple of games. He has bought an experienced head to our defence, and looks assured on the ball as well as calm under pressure. If his last couple of performances are anything to go by, then I’d love to see more of him at Fulham going past this season. I am confident that Lookman, despite his awful penalty miss against West Ham, will prove crucial this season. He has scored a couple of goals this season and gives us a splash of flair going forward, something we’ve missed a little. Whether it is service for Mitrovic, or goals he scores himself, you can be sure he still has a big part to play for us this year.
6. The January window is not to far away, do you think your team will try to sign any players? In which positions do you think it is most important to strengthen?
I think we need to look at signing a striker who complements Mitrovic in January. Often this season, we have found that we play a little better without Mitrovic in the line up, for example against Everton and Leicester. We have played with Ivan Cavaleiro through the middle and although he’s done well, it’s not his natural position and I would like to see us bring in an out and out striker, someone who has a proven record in the top leagues, has decent pace and is agile in and around the box. I wouldn’t say no to another right back either, Kenny Tete is yet to come back from injury but so far Ola Aina has done little to convince me he is of adequate quality to fill the gap when Tete becomes unavailable.
7. What kind of game do you expect against Liverpool?
Being honest, I think it’ll be really difficult for us. In Salah, Mané and Firmino you probably have one of the deadliest attacks in the world. You’ve had rough luck with some injuries to key players, but I think you’ll still have enough about you to win the league this year, which speaks volumes about the strength in depth available to you. I think it’ll be hard for us to get a good result against Klopp and his big red pressing machine but we’ll have 2000 fans cheering us on for the first time in a while, which should serve as added motivation for us If you want a score prediction, I’m going to go for Fulham 1-3 Liverpool. Mitrovic will score for us, then Mané, Jota and Wijnaldum will for you.