Archive for November, 2010

Fulham: A Third-of-Season Retrospective

November 15, 2010

In an attempt to make sense of how Fulham are actually performing this season I thought that having a look back at the Fulham performances over the first third of the season, with the benefit of hindsight, might bring some answers.

Bolton 0-0 Fulham:  A good draw against a team that have been doing very well this season under Coyle. Both sides had good chances and a draw was a fair result. Going away to Bolton is always tough so a draw is always a welcome result.

Fulham 2-2 Manchester United:  A game we deserved to win. Two stonewall penalties denied before an unlucky own goal and a harsh penalty nearly put us out the game. Thank god for Brede Hangeland. Great performance all round.

Blackpool 2-2 Fulham: The first glimpse of the defensive frailties of the Mark Hughes system coupled with the first glimpse of Etuhu as a serious attacking threat. Blackpool played without fear at their first home game and could have won it. We were the part-poopers but a draw was a decent result all things concerned.

Fulham 2-1 Wolves: A good result but one that could shape our season for other reasons. The loss of Zamora has had a huge effect on our team. The blossoming partnership of Bobby and Moussa was cut short and we showed character to get the win.

Blackburn 1-1 Fulham: Another draw, but a solid point from a tough away fixture. Decent performance against a physical side although the lack of Zamora was very noticeable in terms of our attacking potency.

Fulham 0-0 Everton: A game we were lucky to draw. Everton had been on a poor run to start the season but thoroughly outplayed us. The first time we were outplayed this season.

West Ham 1-1 Fulham:  This should have been our first away win in however many games. Fulham showed that they are a better side than west ham, but a draw was decent nonetheless.

Fulham 1-2 Tottenham:  The first loss, and an unjust one at that. The descision to award the Tottenham goal when Gallas was clearly offside and interfering with play floored Fulham, and without Zamora there was no way back. We may not have deserved to win but a draw would have been fair.

West Brom 2-1 Fulham:  A deserved win for West Brom who played Fulham off the park. Mitigating circumstances were that Fulham were without almost all of the first choice midfield.

Fulham 2-0 Wigan: A fine performance and should really have been more than 2-0. Wigan gave up with 20 mins to go but Fulham were excellent, controlling the midfield and running the game from start to finish.

Fulham 1-1 Aston Villa: A lucky draw at home courtesy of that man Brede Hangeland. Villa dominated with a young midfield full of energy then defended reseloutely. Hangeland saved us but the lack of pace and invention in midfield was worrying.

Chelsea 1-0 Fulham: A poor match that Fulham deserved to lose, but Chelsea were hardly setting the world alight. Again, the lack of options up front was very obvious.

Newcastle 0-0 Fulham: By all accounts a good result against a team full of confidence after a good start to the season.

A summary:

Wins: Wolves (H), Wigan (H)

Draws: Bolton (A), Man United (H), Blackpool (A), Blackburn (A),Everton (H), Villa (H), Newcastle (A)

Losses: Tottenham (H), West Brom (A), Chelsea (A)

So what conclusions can we draw from this. Well, firstly, it is too early to start panicking. We have beaten two teams we would expect to beat at home and drawn away against some tough opponents. One of our losses was unjust and the others away from home so acceptable. Secondly, our defence seems to be as resolute as ever. We are yet to concede more than 2 goals in a game and we know that teams with good defences are very rarely the ones that get relegated. Thirdly, we desperately miss Zamora. With AJ back, things may change before january but we need at least one good striker in the january window. It is not that our midfielders turned forwards have not tried their best, just that we lack a genuine goal threat up front now that Zamora is not there. With a full compliment of strikers I would guess that we could have turned several of those draws into wins, and would probably have our much sought after first away win of the season.

Things may get worse before they get better, but we can hope for an improvement in the new year with further additions and the return of the mercurial Zamora.  I am fully confident that Hughes can turn Fulham’s fortunes around, it may take time and this may not be a vintage season, but I am confident in the ability of Hughes to move us onwards and upwards.