With an important if slightly scrappy three points taken in Nottingham on Tuesday night, Fulham’s attentions turn to the noisy neighbours down the road, and a visit to one-time temporary home Loftus Road beckons for the Whites.
Fulham might have won on Tuesday, but the performance was particularly unconvincing at times, and if it wasn’t for some particularly poor finishing from Nottingham Forest (h/t Daryl Murphy), then we could have been staring down the barrel of another damning defeat to a struggling side.
There are positives though, with another goal and a decent performance from Aboubakar Kamara pre-eminent amongst them. Kamara is a funny one, and whilst I’m delighted that I’m having to eat my words about him in terms of scoring goals, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Fulham looked disjointed at the City Ground, and it remains to be seen whether the cause of that was having a direct player rather than a link-up man in the centre-forward position.
Rui Fonte, playing against Middlesbrough, did all of his best work with his back to goal, bringing the midfield into play and facilitating the slick, elegant play that made Fulham such a force last year. There was very little of that against Forest, and even when Ollie Norwood came on to shore up the midfield, Fulham lacked their usual fluidity.
That said, a win is a win, and teams who have got promoted scrappily will tell you it doesn’t matter how you get the points. Talking of wins, Fulham face a side without many of them in the league recently in Queens Park Rangers.
Holloway has his side playing better football than many expected, and has, perhaps more predictably, turned them into a team that are quite hard to beat. To be perfectly honest, their record is pretty similar to that of Fulham, with just three losses and four draws as opposed to the Whites’ five draws and two losses.
Something that should worry Fulham, however, is Rangers’ knack of scoring late goals to salvage points. We’ve seen at home this season where Fulham have already dropped six points from winning positions late in games, that the Whites look defensively suspect without a cushion, and this is something that Holloway will be keen to remind his players of.
In Luke Freeman, Conor Washington, Jamie Mackie and (don’t even tempt fate) Matt Smith, the Hoops have plenty of players who know how to put the ball in the back of the net, and whilst Fulham definitely have the quality to put Rangers to the sword, Holloway will want blood and thunder under the lights at Loftus Road.
There’s plenty at stake beside bragging rights here, and a win for Fulham could kickstart the season and get a positive attitude around the Cottage throughout the international break, alongside providing a glorious evening in W12 for the 3000 Fulham fans who will make the short hop. Fingers crossed.
Last 5 Championship Results:
- D: Barnsley 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
- D: Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Burton Albion
- L: Middlesbrough 3-2 Queens Park Rangers
- D: Queens Park Rangers 2-2 Millwall
- W: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Ipswich Town
Fulhamish’s Starting Line-Up:
We know that this is going to go against some people’s wishes, and it’s not what Slavisa would do, but I’d use Kamara as an impact sub. Now his confidence is up and running, bringing on that kind of weapon against tiring legs who will have been chasing Rui Fonte around for 70 minutes could be a masterstroke. Sess goes back to left-back, Norwood returns, and Kebano and Mollo get the nod for us.
Josh Scowen v Stefan Johansen
The battle of the engines, if you will. A few envious eyebrows were raised around the Championship when Rangers picked up former Barnsley midfielder Josh Scowen on a free transfer at the beginning of the window. They’ve been proved right because Scowen has been almost an ever-present in the Rangers midfield since, linking up tidily with Massimo Luongo (not the best midfielder in the Championship, Ollie) and Luke Freeman.
Scowen’s industry and ability to recycle possession has been incredibly well-received by QPR fans, who have praised his performances since his arrival. In contrast, Stefan Johansen has not quite had the start to the season that Fulham fans were hoping for. Despite chipping in with his customary goals – StefJo is Fulham’s joint top-scorer (Shock) – the Norwegian’s performances have been somewhat below the par we’ve come to expect from him.
Perhaps missing the vision of Tom Cairney beside him, Fulham’s No8 has been partly anonymous for some of the season, when many of us were hoping that he would step into the void created by the absence of the talismanic No10. That said, Stef’s industry and workrate have remained solid, and it’s refreshing to see that even when things aren’t technically going his way, he’s willing to commit even harder to the industrious nature of his game.
He’ll be tested by Scowen, however, and Fulham’s midfield will need to step up to the plate if we’re to dominate the midfield battle. If Johansen can rediscover his touch, and connect nicely with Norwood and McDonald, then the Whites will have a solid platform on which to push for the bragging rights over our neighbours down the ‘Bush.
It’s going to be scrappy and horrible and, if Fulham come out on top, absolutely gorgeous. We’re going for 2-1 Fulham with a last minute winner from Sessegnon, and limbs all over White City.
Don’t forget to listen to next Monday’s episode of Fulhamish for all the reaction to this game and Friday’s short trip to Queens Park Rangers , and make sure that you’re subscribed on one of the following platforms.