Jack Stroudley looks ahead to this weekends’ trip to St James’ Park.
We’re 19 games in, we have 31 points we’re in the top six, and we have a famous win over Chelsea. Pinch me – I am literally dreaming. Since the Premier League restart we have been flawless, winning four out of four in the league, showing grit and desire in narrow games, which we haven’t seen at Fulham much in past years. These results have got Fulham fans dreaming, but with minimal rest ahead of an extremely tough trip to Newcastle, could the run be over?
Newcastle United’s season has been nothing short of outstanding, Just one loss in the league all season leaves Eddie Howe’s side in the top four and they are very much in the conversation for Champions League football next season. On top of this, when Fulham come to town, Newcastle (while playing two cup games in between) will have had 12 days in between Premier League fixtures giving apt time for players to rest and recover.
Despite only losing one game, Newcastle have also drawn eight of their 18 league fixtures including games at home to Leeds, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace,showing that while they are a side on the up, there is still a chance of a result – especially when you take our recent form into consideration.
How do we prepare?
While the statue is being forged in steel and the Riverside Stand is being renamed the Carlos Vinicius Stand, I think Mitrovic will retake his position leading the line. Vinicius was exceptional against Chelsea and really proved to many (me included) that he deserves to be in this Fulham squad. However, Mitrovic is our top scorer by a large margin, our focal point, and the Serbian will come into the game fully rested and with a point to prove.
I wouldn’t be necessarily shocked if we saw another change or two due to the short rest period between Chelsea and Newcastle, with the potential of Issa Diop and Harry Wilson coming in for Tosin and Bobby De Cordova-Reid as well as Layvin Kurzawa coming in for a suspended Antonee Robinson. Harrison Reed didn’t have a particularly strong game against Chelsea and while Tom Cairney performed once again from the bench, I think that Reed will keep his place with Cairney being much more useful as an impact sub.
The final verdict
This is Fulham’s toughest task since we returned from the World Cup. It’s a team that hasn’t lost since August, and we have minimal rest ahead of this away fixture. We saw in October just how good this Newcastle side can be, and while a result would have me bookmarking SkyScanner ahead of the Europa Conference League tour, I sadly can’t see anything other than a Newcastle victory.