The Whites travel the short distance across Hammersmith & Fulham this Saturday, as they take on neighbours QPR in a derby that sees a clash of two teams in good form.
Whilst the Whites have only lost twice in their last 12 (both to Brighton), Holloway’s QPR had a diabolical run after he took over the reigns, but appear to have turned things around with three league wins on the bounce. Their victory over high-flying Reading last week was a stark reminder that Rangers are capable of doing damage on their day and of stopping possession-heavy sides from scoring.
The partnership of Joel Lynch and Grant Hall appears to have done something to shore up a back line which was leaking goals earlier in the season, and interestingly, Holloway switched from a 4-3-3 system to a 3-5-2 against Reading last week, indicating that he’s happy to pack the midfield and shut teams down if he feels like the R’s could be overrun through the middle. Don’t rule out a similar system being implemented against the Whites on Saturday.
The emergence of former Galway United man and Irish U-23 international Ryan Manning has added some dynamism to the midfield, and winger Paweł Wszołek has started to chip in with some important goals as the year turned. Idrissa Sylla, who scored the winner against the Whites in the reverse fixture, leads the line, and Jamie Mackie, who only returned from injury in December, has shown glimpses of why he’s a fan favourite at Loftus Road.
That said, there are huge positives going into the game for the Whites. The return of Chris Martin last week was crucial to the three points gained at Barnsley, as Fulham look so more incisive with the Scotsman up top. Add that to the return of Tomas Kalas in the heart of defence, and there is nearly a full strength squad for Jokanovic to play with, barring the AFCON absentees.
The game at Craven Cottage earlier this season was one of the most jarring defeats that many Fulham fans have suffered in years, and only three points will be the tonic to that pain. For both fans and the playoff chase, a win is a necessity at Loftus Road.
Their last 5 results:
- W: Reading 0-1 QPR
- W: QPR 2-1 Ipswich Town
- W: Wolves 1-2 QPR
- L: Brighton 3-0 QPR
- L: QPR 0-1 Aston Villa
Fulhamish’s Starting Line-Up:
We’d go with exactly the same team as the Barnsley win, although we’d also love to see a cheeky appearance for the recalled George Williams on the bench to add some width and attacking momentum should the need arise.
Joel Lynch v Chris Martin
There was much made of the on-loan Derby man’s disappearance over the New Year period, and much said about him; but that all seems to be put to rest with his goal, assist and Man of the Match display last weekend. He’ll face a big test here against the rejuvenated Rangers skipper Joel Lynch, and the winner of the tussle will have a big say in whether Fulham can fulfil their attacking potential or not.
With the sublime football the Whites played last week, it’s hard to see any team in the league beating them when in full flow, and the pain of the last fixture between these two should push Fulham onwards. It’s all about keeping our heads though – if it becomes a blood and thunder tie, Rangers will be more in their element than ours. As long as Fulham keep their heads and keep things technical, they should have enough to avenge the home loss and take all three points back towards the river. We’re going for 3-1 Fulham.
Don’t forget to listen to this Monday’s episode of Fulhamish for all the reaction to this game. Subscribe to the podcast on any of the following platforms (others are available):