Posts Tagged ‘Moussa Dembele’

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.

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Blackpool 2-2 Fulham

August 28, 2010

A crazy game that Blackpool were unlucky to draw, but a result that should please the Fulham faithful. After the highs of Wednesday night it was tough to see Fulham a goal down but pleasing to see that the resilience that was shown against Manchester United was still evident.  For me, this game really gave us some clues of how Mark Hughes wants his side to play and what we can expect to see in the future.

The game was played at a frantic pace, Blackpool pressurising Fulham all over the pitch and really playing up to the crowd, feeding off their energy. Blackpool had the majority of the ball and were passing about nicely, although not creating many clear cut chances. After having  goal correctly disallowed, Blackpool went behind. Dembele was put through on the right wing and beat his man with an excellent cross, nodded in by the mercurial Bobby Zamora.  Blackpool were not  disheartened and finished the half well, out passing Fulham, but again failing to look particularly dangerous up front.

The second half continued at the same frantic pace with Blackpool really pushing Fulham. When Zamora came off Fulham lost some of their tactical identity and it was not long before the breakthrough came.  Luke Varney caused problems up front, before getting a shot off that was smashed into the top corner by the hapless John Paintsil (who had the worst game I have seen from an RB at Fulham in a good few seasons).  With Fulham rocking, Blackpool capitalised with an excellent goal. A poor pass from John Paintsil was intercepted and Luke Varney was put through; he made no mistake with an assured finish. At this point it looked as though Blackpool would put Fulham to the sword but they sat back slightly and allowed Fulham back into the game.  It didn’t look like Fulham could create anything without Zamora but after Blackpool gave the ball away, Moussa Dembele (who was the best player on the pitch) hit a slide-rule through ball for Dickson Etuhu to latch on to. Etuhu finished with a deft chip over the keeper and looked comfortable doing so, which surprised me to say the least. Looks like we might have a player on our hands.

After that the game fizzled out as both sides settled for a draw. Fulham relieved not to have thrown away too many points but disappointed at not capitalising on their early lead, Blackpool happy for the point but disappointed not to have had all three.  Looks like we may have to wait a while for our first away win…

Dembele, Halliche and Salcido

August 27, 2010

So Mark Hughes has wasted little time bringing in some new faces and start to mould the squad in his image.  Lets go through the signings:

Moussa Dembele (£5m, AZ Alkmaar) – Hughes’s first signing in the transfer window and one that has already got people excited. Dembele made his debut against Man Utd and looked completely comfortable, especially since he had played less than 90mins is pre season. We got a second look at him on his full debut against Port Vale and he looked excellent. Powerful runs were matched with excellent awareness and some great distribution. Dembele notched up his first goal too, a cracking drive for the edge of the area which snuck inside the left hand post. It is early days but Dembele is already looking like a bargain at £5m.

Rafik Halliche (£1.6m, Benfica) – A slightly left field signing but one that had been on the back-burner for a while with Halliche training with the Fulham squad. Halliche spent last season on loan at Portuguese side Nacional and finding his opportunities limited at Benfica decided to try his luck at Fulham. He had an excellent world cup and Hughes has seemed impressed with his performances in training. I am sure he is a backup for Hughes and Hangeland, but it is always good to have cover.

Carlos Salcido (£2m, PSV) – Signed today, Salcido is a left back by trade and comes in either as deputy to Paul Konchesky or as a replacement, depending on who you believe. Like Halliche, Salcido had an excellent world cup. He had fallen down the pecking order at PSV and had been looking to move on. Salcido appears to be a quality player and it will be good to have some cover at left back (finally!).

With the potential for new signings over the next few days, these really are exciting times for Fulham under Mark Hughes!