Jack Stroudley looks at how we might get something out of our upcoming trip to the south coast.
This weekend has all the potential to be a classic. These are two sides that no one had down as being in sixth and seventh in February, and both sides surely now have aspirations of maintaining this form and potentially securing a European place.
With Fulham coming off the back of a good week both in the Premier League and FA Cup all attention turns to a very tricky fixture at the AmEx. Brighton come into the game in tonnes of form and bags of confidence, but how do Fulham put an end to this?
When Graham Potter left for Brighton, it wouldn’t have been a poor take to suggest that the Seagulls may have started to dip in performance levels. However, new man Roberto De Zerbi has come in and ripped up trees on the south coast, with Brighton not only sitting in the European places, but they are actually underperforming in terms of xG (albeit having played fewer games than Tottenham).
Despite not having an out-and-out goal scorer (Evan Ferguson has started to come into the fray off the bench scoring frequently), Brighton are very similar to Fulham and share their goals all across the pitch with four players on seven goals each (albeit one of those is the recently-departed Leandro Trossard). De Zerbi’s expansive 4-2-3-1 with possession out from the back means that stylistically it will be very similar on Saturday with both sides wanting to control the ball and look to press when out of possession.
How do we prepare?
Looking at Brighton’s last few results there is one similar theme which I feel Fulham can exploit. While controlling the game for the vast majority they haven’t been very clinical (ironic considering they’ve scored 39 goals this season) and have been bailed out in two of the last three games with late goals from Mitoma and Ferguson to earn three points against Bournemouth and a singular point at Leicester. Similarly, their most recent game against Crystal Palace follows this trend of dominating for large chunks but not doing enough to win the game.
This makes me wonder, how will this Brighton side cope with playing an opposition who systematically will want to do the same thing? I’m not suggesting that we’re going to turn up on Saturday and boss from minute one to 90, but I think it would be incredibly unfair to suggest we’re going to sit back and allow Brighton to have most of the ball.
In terms of Fulham’s starting line-up, I would make one change from the Nottingham Forest game. Marco Silva has confirmed that Willian has picked up a slight knock and while he has been exceptional this season, in games where he hasn’t been fully at it, Willian has struggled and if we’re going to get anything at the AmEx, we need to be 100%. Hence why I would bring in Solomon, with his performances improving week after week and the confidence he will have from that first goal last Saturday, I feel he has to start.
The final verdict
This has the makings of a Premier League classic. Two expansive and exciting teams with similar ambitions. I could see this one having a lot of goals for both sides. I’m going 2-2.