Will Gardner looks back through the history books for the last few times we took maximum points from top-flight rivals.
It wasn’t just Willian who rolled back the years after his blinder of a goal on Saturday. Fulham also achieved something not seen for almost a decade; we managed to secure the double over another team in the Premier League. That’s no mean feat as Forest put up a hell of a fight in both matches, but we’ve walked away from our two meetings with them with all six points. It’s something we have scarcely achieved during our time in the top flight. I scoured the Premier Leagues website to relive our last five doubles..
Norwich – 2013/14
In our ill-fated final season in the top flight before we succumbed to relegation, we managed to walk away with all six points against our relegation rivals and perennial counterparts Norwich. In the first leg at Carrow Road we fell behind to an early Gary Hooper goal after it deflected off Aaron Hughes and over David Stockdale into the back of the net, before Patjim Kasami levelled 20 minutes later from a free-kick. Then to secure the win was none other than Scott Parker with a shot from the edge of the box to win it in the 87th minute. We were left asking if the tide might finally turn for Rene Meulensteen’s side? We lost 6-0 away to Hull two days later.
The return leg was just as scrappy as we only managed to secure the win thanks to Hugo Rodallega bundling in Lewis Holtby’s free kick that Steve Sidwell had flicked on. That win left us only two points behind Norwich in the relegation run-in after three wins in Felix Magath’s first five games, but we all know how it all turned out. Little did we know that it would be the final time we do the double over a Premier League rival for almost 10 years.
Aston Villa 2013/14
Does anyone else see Villa as a sort of semi rival? After our promotion in the play-off final against them, a Villa fan threw my clapper down the carriage of a Metropolitan line tube, so maybe I just see them as one, because how dare that bloke touch such a sacred thing? (I am joking, of course).
Incredibly, we did the double over two sides the season we went down, and Villa were the other. The first win was in fact Meulensteen’s first win in charge, and our first win in seven after sacking Jol. A Sidwell goal and a Berbatov penalty were enough to secure the win and condemn Villa to their first loss in five games. Looking at the stats we had 10 shots on target to their two, so the game could’ve easily been 4-0 or 5-0 if it wasn’t for the heroics of Brad Guzan in goal for Villa.
The away leg is seared in my brain; the joy of an 86th-minute winner from Hugo Rodallega sent the away end into raptures and kept the possibility of staying up alive. The hope at this point, that we could do the impossible, was huge. It was Kieran Richardson who got the first goal on 61 minutes, before Grant Holt equalised for the hosts ahead of Rodallega’s winner.
This win meant that we went into the next game only five points behind our challengers Norwich, but the problem was that we had a -41 (minus forty-one) goal difference. As mentioned, we beat Norwich to close the gap to just two points, and briefly escaped the bottom three. But despite leading 2-0 against Hull, Shane Long broke all our hearts by scoring two late goals and knocking all momentum out of the team and we were relegated a couple of weeks later.
West Brom 2012/13
If anyone needs their memories jogging, this was the Kappa pin-stripe season, a sort of middling campaign where Al Fayed was tightening the purse strings as he was looking to sell the club, so despite signing Berbatov on deadline day for £5 million, we also lost our talismans from the year before Dempsey and Dembele for £6 million and £15 million respectively.
The only team we managed to achieve a double over that season was the original and true owners of the yo-yo title, West Brom. The first win was a comfortable one on a Saturday afternoon. Berbatov bagged his first two goals for the club on his home debut and Sidwell also joined in on the action. It was a game we really should’ve won after Odemwingie got himself sent off in the first half for kicking out at Sascha Riether, and interestingly this game was our academy prospect Alex Smith’s only appearance for the club, before he fell down the leagues after injuries and a lack of opportunities.
The away leg fell on New Year’s Day and after a promising start to the season Fulham had only won one in the last 12. By all accounts, it was a languid first half, but Berbatov managed to put us ahead after 39 minutes, slotting the ball through Ben Foster’s legs from an Ashkan Dejagah pass. On loan striker Romelu Lukaku equalised early in the second half, although he appeared to have strayed offside. Former White Zoltan Gera struck the post after that, but it was a Kacaniklic goal that secured three points for Fulham after Bryan Ruiz’s through ball, easing the pressure on Martin Jol. It was a great win for the boys though as we were in a bad way at the time and West Brom were enjoying their best season to date.
What a win this first one was. Not only did we walk the lot from Shepherds Bush 6-0, it was also our first win of the season and it saw our first-ever Premier League hat-trick – have there been many since? I can only think of Pogrebnyak’s. This emphatic win was essentially the Andy Johnson show, he was the one who bagged the treble, with his first coming after 76 seconds. He also won the penalty for Danny Murphy’s goal and played a crucial role in Dempsey’s. The little man terrorised the QPR defence and left Neil Warnock absolutely raging on the touchline. If ever there was a win to revitalise a team and the fans, this was it.
The game at Loftus Road was one we always should’ve won. QPR were reeling towards the bottom of the table while we sat in 11th. They had Mr. Ambitious Mark Hughes in charge, looking to climb up the table, but they were only picking up scraps of points after his first six games at the helm, and we also had Pogrebnyak who was in a fine vein of form.
QPR had Samba Diakite sent off after 32 minutes – on his debut – but Fulham were already 1-0 up through the Pog after a beautiful turn following a perfect Dembele pass. After a tricky start to the season and crashing out of the Europa League, things were looking up for Fulham and we were hoping to mount a challenge up the league and potentially finish in Europe again. We finished ninth, only behind Liverpool on goal difference who managed to scrape into the Europa League through winning the League Cup.
Speaking of Liverpool, they were another team we managed to take all six points off of that season, which was Jol’s best in charge. This double feels particularly sweet as Liverpool had taken Roy Hodgson from us a year earlier, before sacking him in January. It was hardly befitting of a Fulham legend, so we swiftly exacted revenge. Well, it was more Liverpool being the architects of their own demise, as after a drab first half in which we nullified the threat of Suarez, Carrol and Bellamy, Jay Spearing went studs up on Mousa Dembele and caught him above his ankle with both feet off the ground. This only opened the game up, with both teams testing the goalies at either end. But it was a Pepe Reina mistake from Murphy’s shot that led to Clint Dempsey tapping home from close range to give us the win with just five minutes to go.
The away game saw a goal much earlier in the match, but this time from an unlikely source. Martin Skrtel was caught flat footed from a Kacaniklic flick and deflected the ball into his own net after five minutes. Fortunately for us, Liverpool had a cup final a week or so later so rested Gerrard and Suarez, but we still had to win and we did so limiting a much-changed Liverpool side to only four shots on target, although they did have 21 shots to our 10. We walked away with a solid 1-0 victory and cemented ourselves in the top half of the table with only a few games of the season left.
We also did the double over Bolton and Wigan in what was actually quite an impressive season, but those felt a lot less exciting than taking six points each off QPR and Liverpool.
Doing the double over four other clubs is no mean feat – could we replicate it this time round? We’ve managed to tick one off with the win over Forest, and we have another chance away at Brighton on Saturday, before Brentford, Leeds and Villa in April. Then we have the chance to re-enact our winter wins in May against Leicester Southampton and Crystal Palace. Do you see us getting any more doubles this season and if so against who?