Saturday’s trip to Ipswich has become quite a big affair. Obviously seasons are not won or lost at this stage, and it would be ludicrous to suggest that we’re somehow relegation fodder after three draws and a loss to credible opposition, but in terms of morale around the club, a win would do wonders for everyone’s nerves and mentality.
Where better to go then, than to unbeaten Ipswich Town, who are riding a wave of good feeling of their own making. Summer signings Joe Garner and Martin Waghorn looked like a cut-price duo, but with seven goals between them already, there can be no doubting that they are demonstrating the quality that has seen them both cut it at Championship level before. Mick McCarthy is playing with something of a makeshift squad, and fielded a back four entirely made up of full-backs against Brentford last time out.
The statistics from that game are insane. Brentford had 22 shots, 6 of which were on target, but were met with an inspired Bialkowski in the Ipswich net. Ipswich took five shots, put three on target, and scored twice. If you think that’s clinical, against Millwall they had four shots on target, and scored all of them. Ruthless.
McCarthy has his team firing already, and a spluttering Fulham are going to need to find their groove if they’re to turn things around in what now promises to be a very tricky trip to take on the Tractor Boys.
It’s not all doom and gloom though–Rui Fonte looked sharp last week against Sheffield Wednesday and now with a week learning how the rest of the team are going to play, you’d hope that he can start to gel with those around him. We’re hoping that Cairney is back to fitness, and if so, his connection with Fonte has been at least partly built. That could be a combination that fires Fulham back towards winning heights.
Tuesday night was a shambles, but Fulham will want to put things right before the international break. Ipswich are beatable, even with their excellent form, but the Whites are going to need to get the engine firing if we’re to bring our first three points of the season back with us to Craven Cottage.
Championship Results So Far:
- W: Ipswich Town 2-0 Brentford
- W: Millwall 3-4 Ipswich Town
- W: Barnsley 1-2 Ipswich Town
- W: Ipswich Town 1-0 Birmingham
Fulhamish’s Starting Line-Up:
If Cairney is fit, he should obviously start, but we mean 100% fit. Against Wednesday the skipper was a passenger and the game passed him by, with his normally incisive passing looking blurred and his ability to strike from distance seemingly hampered. On form, Cairney is probably the best player in the Championship (Ruben Neves aside perhaps), but if he’s injured then we have plenty of other options which we should use. They might not have TC’s quality, but there can be no doubting that Cisse and Norwood are able deputies, and even Aluko can play behind the striker.
Talking of Aluko, we think the gaffer might bench him at the weekend if Cairney is fit enough to start and wear the armband. He’s had a poor run of form, and there seems to be some sort of unspoken arrangement that Sessegnon is going to play most of the time in one role or another, at least until the end of the transfer window, or so we suspect. Kebano’s direct approach really shook things up against Wednesday last Saturday, and you’d imagine the little Congolese No7 will get a start sooner or later. We hope that it’s this weekend.
Fonte, now with a week under his belt, should start, and we’re hoping to see even more of the glimpses of quality he showed last weekend. If he can click with the players around him, then the goals will surely start to come for Fulham.
Jordan Spence v Rui Fonte
We’ve spoken already about how key we think Fonte can be for Fulham, but his battle with Jordan Spence should be a really interesting one to watch. Fulham’s new No9 is a classy player, with a tidy touch and a good bit of pace about him, but Spence, who is potentially most comfortable as a full-back, should have the legs to match him. If Fonte can expose the weaknesses in his centre-back game, however, Fulham could be on to a winner.
Both Spence and his centre-half partner thus far, Jonas Knutsen, are converted full-backs, and whilst they’ve been excellent at times in keeping out Brentford and Birmingham, they also conceded three to Millwall, and so there are holes to be exploited if Fonte and co can find them. Given how potent Fulham were in carving teams open last year, and now with a proven finisher spearheading the line, Fulham must take the opportunities they will create if they are to win this game.
It’s impossible to call this one properly. Fulham could misfire again and we could lose 2-0 to two headed goals from corners, but equally if we turn up and play, there’s the potential that the Whites could rip McCarthy’s makeshift defensive line to shreds. It’ll probably be a bit of both, so we’re going to go for an entertaining 2-2 draw, but don’t bet against either side winning this one at the death.
Don’t forget to listen to Tuesday’s episode of Fulhamish for all the reaction to Saturday’s game, and make sure that you’re subscribed on one of the following platforms.