After watching Fulham’s very average performance against Chelsea, it seemed that there were a lot of issues with the team.
Chelsea were there for the taking, especially in the first half with a cautious display, and Fulham were unable to pounce on the nervousness around Stamford Bridge. Conceding early in the second half killed the game off, and it petered out into a boring but professional 2-0 win for the Blues.
Although, every single year Fulham seem to perform and end up in mid table amongst the elite. However, could it be this year that they see themselves slide down the table and under-perform?
One of the most shocking things about the Chelsea performance was the lack of support for Darren Bent up front on his own. After Bent missed a glorious one-on-one opportunity within the first few minutes of the game, he received next to nothing for the next 80 minutes and was like a headless chicken running around up front.
Fulham were just unable to keep an adequate link between the midfield and Bent, with Patjim Kasami and Scott Parker seemingly the only ones capable of having any sort of ability to link up with Bent - even at the best of times.
You may put this down to the formations of the respective teams- Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 creating an effective screen to counter the 4-4-1-1 of Fulham. Kasami was always over run and out-powered by Ramires and John Obi Mikel. However, regardless of how they attacked there was a clear lack of impetus going forward for the seemingly depleted cottagers. As soon as Chelsea took the lead you could not see them creating anything. It was the same away at Newcastle. Only a flukey Kieran Richardson effort tested Cech after Bent’s opportunity in the first half.
Fulham are yet to score more than two goals this season and you can see why. Arguably they were missing Dimitar Berbatov, fundamental to their successes last season, but can one man really make such a big impact on a team?
Unless they are Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, I don’t think so. Of course there’s no problems with not scoring a lot if you have a solid defence- but Fulham’s defence had been leaky up until a clean sheet against Stoke. Against West Brom, Fulham scored from a set piece, yet were unable to add to that and ended up paying the price.
First thing on the agenda is to cure patchy home form, a defeat at home to Cardiff was probably not on the cards for the Cottagers, and they are ominously hovering above the drop zone. A spectacular effort from Jordan Mutch snatched three points for the visitors, and left many fans jeering at the end. Martin Jol has urged his followers to keep calm, but more results like that and we may see another managerial casualty, after Paolo Di Canio's sacking.
Even more of a concern was Fulham’s lack of fitness. There is no doubt that Fulham have an experienced squad with a relatively old average age, but even five games into the season they looked extremely tired. The younger players like Kacaniklic seemed to lack any real enthusiasm and energy.
Obviously they were away at Chelsea, but over the past few years Fulham have given a good account of themselves yet just didn’t turn up. Who knows why that may be, but as footballers at this level they shouldn’t be looking weary after only a few weeks - maybe they didn’t have their Weetabix in the morning. Unless league performances improve with a greater desire to get forward, Fulham may struggle for this season.
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