Well, we’re now two games down this week with one more to go, and 4 points from Aston Villa at home and Bristol City away is a decent return from two tough fixtures. Here are Daniel Powell‘s five key points to take away from the two games…
1) Terrific Tim
If you’d had said to me two years ago that Tim Ream would have been probably the first name on our team sheet I’d have laughed in your face. However, that is actually the case, and it is so thoroughly deserved. He certainly thrives under the system we play, being trusted to carry the ball out of defence and play lovely passes into our midfield.
His calmness and composure on the ball is wonderful, he rarely misplaces a pass and he is a big reason as to why we’ve been pushing for promotion in the last two seasons. I can’t think of many more underrated players in the entire division than the American centre-back, and I hope he continues to be consistently brilliant.
2) Fredericks… Class
I’ve always really liked Ryan Fredericks but questioned his final ball on a number of occasions, however on Saturday against Villa he put in a simply superb display, culminating in a lovely assist for Ryan Sessegnon and feautirng a nutmeg that is still giving Birkir Bjarnason nightmares to this day – he’s got a family Ryan – come on.
I could see the logic in giving him a rest at Bristol City, especially seeing as we now have Cyrus Christie in that position as well – and also three games in a week at Ryan’s intensity could be asking too much. I’m a big fan of Fredericks and I really do hope that we get him tied down to a new contract soon, he’d be a big miss.
3) Brutish Bristol
Bristol City came to Craven Cottage in October and played a bit of football, with an attacking style of play and thoroughly deserved to win. Well, what’s happened in five months, I have no idea, but last night they turned into a bunch of thugs.
As Slavisa said after the game, they went over the limits on a number of occasions, barging into Bettinelli at corners, hacking our players down every time we broke and wasting time. Then, to top it off, their assistant manager comes out after the game and moans about the stoppages caused by Fulham! Pot, kettle!
4) Underperformance – but a good result
We were OK last night at Ashton Gate but I never felt like we did enough to win the game, and there were times where I did think we were going to lose it. Too many key players just did not perform to a high enough level – I was expecting to see a bit more from Tom Cairney, Lucas Piazon and Ryan Sessegnon.
The standards all three of those have set in the past were just not matched last night, unfortunately. When you have those calibre of players not quite at it, and you’re away from home at a fellow promotion contender – you realise a point is actually quite a decent result.
5) Fonte? Ojo?
One result of strengthening the squad in January with the three players we brought in is that certain players won’t even make the matchday squad. Which is exactly what happened on Saturday, and last night, as both Rui Fonte and Sheyi Ojo missed out. I’m not too sure if there are injuries to these two players, or if Slavisa just can’t quite squeeze them in. Having said that, neither would get anywhere near my first eleven.
Roll on Wolves!