So, the World Cup Qualification break is over and it’s looking far better for some of our internationals (Ollie Norwood) than it is for others (everyone else). However, on that note, everyone is back and hopefully focused on the important task this season, that of getting Fulham firmly back where they belong, in the Premier League.
That said, it appears that the Whites are somewhat light on the ground, with a number of early season casualties already taking their toll on the physio’s room, and having had several key players affected by the international period, this is probably not the best time to be facing the Championship’s form side in the shape of Cardiff City.
Warnock’s Bluebirds have started the season in storming form, with the partnership of Kenneth Zohore and new signing Nathaniel Mendez-Laing proving particularly potent. The former Rochdale man, signed on a free this summer, has 4 goals in 5 league games and deservedly picked up August’s SkyBet Player of the Month award for the division. He credits his form to the divisive Warnock, disliked immensely around the banks of the Thames, but it’s testament to his ability that the two players mentioned here are both ‘diamonds in the rough’ unearthed and polished by Warnock’s methods.
Let’s not pull punches here though. Fulham are, in the words of Warnock himself, ‘the best team Cardiff played last season’ and even with injuries, boast one of the best squads in the division. The Whites’ display against Ipswich was a reminder of just how good they are on their day and if they can continue in the same vein, there is absolutely no reason that a win against Cardiff is not well within their capabilities.
Championship Results So Far:
- W: Cardiff City 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
- W: Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-2 Cardiff City
- W: Cardiff City 2-0 Sheffield United
- W: Cardiff City 3-0 Aston Villa
- W: Burton Albion 0-1 Cardiff City
Fulhamish’s Starting Line-Up:
In the absence of Tom Cairney, the creative impetus of the team should fall on the shoulders of Stefan Johansen and Oliver Norwood. Both were creatively involved at the heart of their national sides, to different ends, but between them the twin engines should have more than enough to open Cardiff up. The big question lies
The big question lies perhaps not in midfield but actually how the front three should look in the absence of Rui Fonte, Ojo and Kebano. There is a suggestion that Sessegnon should be moved further forward to accommodate Denis Odoi, and I think it’s likely that Jordan Graham will be given his first opportunity to show what he can do, in tandem with new BFF Ryan Fredericks on the right flank.
Whether Slavisa chooses to loose Aboubakar Kamara from the start or play Floyd Ayite in the false 9 is the big question on everybody’s lips. I think the Gaffer will probably put his faith in the pace and power of Kamara, but if it was up to be I would play Ayite through the middle and bring on Kamara against tiring legs to give them something new to worry about, allowing Ayite to play wide and giving the attacking option from left back that we know Sessegnon can provide. Our lineup is here:
Ryan Fredericks v Nathaniel Mendez-Laing
We all know how good Fredericks is going forward, but his defensive shift has improved so much over the last two years, which has gone slightly under the radar. He’s going to need to be switched on though, on Saturday, against the aforementioned Mendez-Laing, who is a real handful. Pace, power and strength are all in the winger’s arsenal, but if Fredericks can keep him quiet and get attacking himself, it will go a long way to keeping Cardiff quiet and Fulham on the front foot.
Whilst they’ve played Wolves, Cardiff haven’t really been tested properly down the flanks, and if Fulham’s full-backs can really start to get their overlaps into gear and forcing midfielders into defensive positions, it will be a sure sign that the Whites are in the ascendancy.
It’s a tricky one to call, but we’re going to predict a 2-2 draw, which will leave all parties feeling well-entertained, but slightly glum.
Don’t forget to listen to Monday’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.