That was far too much fun for a Monday. Fulham end a string of three straight defeats with a crazy dub at home and Cam’s got all the details. Well, most of them, anyway.
I haven’t even caught my breath yet. That was quite possibly the most mental game of football I’ve ever seen, and Fulham have thrown up a few crackers with Marco Silva at the helm but Bank Holiday Monday, regal celebrations in full flow, offered up a right royal romping.
There’s so, so much to digest, I’ve definitely missed plenty of valid talking points but I’ve attempted to recap our 14th win of the season to the best of my ability, in detail, but I feel as though I’ve done the result a whopping disservice. Leicester City reside at the King Power Stadium, but they toiled like paupers on the banks of the Thames and try as they might, at least in the second half, things really aren’t looking good for them.
A club that sensationally claimed a Premier League title, FA Cup winners, their fall from grace has been undignified and if Dean Smiths to frag them out of the bottom three, he better act fast. Rather them than us, eh? We know what the drudgery of impending relegation feels like, but not this time, chief. A top ten finish is in the offing, we’re on 48 points and we’re also two goals away from breaking our Premier League goal tally. Three games to go, let’s go out on a high with more records smashed, shall we?
first half decimation
It’s safe to say the lads were really, really up for it from the off. Leicester’s Premier League status was and still very much is at stake, it’s a club that have fallen pathetically short of the mark to date this season and they submitted to a Fulham side that have nothing to prove or to strive for, other than beating our all-time PL points record, of course.
The Foxes were expected to dig in, to retaliate but there was no fight or defiance, they were decimated as the rampant Whites hit a rhythm they simply couldn’t replicate and while they mounted a resurgence after the break with three goals of their own, the game was virtually done and dusted by the time Micky Adams accepted his Forever Fulham award.
To say it was an outright mauling is a tad disingenuous. Bernd Leno was called into action and he answered and reacted with urgency, he saved our first penalty since 2018, but Fulham were undoubtedly in control for the vast majority and we capitalised on our opportunities, ruthlessly. Our sequences were sexy, we expressed ourselves and it’s so liberating to see our team play with enjoyment, without the fear of consequence.
Harrison Reed was the anchor, Harry Wilson, the meddler, Kenny Tete, a monster as usual, we may have tailed off after our final strike but what can’t be ignored is the squad’s camaraderie, put into motion. Each of our five goals were expertly manufactured, they were synchronised and as the visitors were yanked apart, the imprint left by our offensive ingenuity was scarring. The Foxes were dismantled and while they staged a muted revolt, they never truly recovered.
Every time we progressed past the halfway line, we were odds on to find the back of the net. Either Fulham were magnificent or Leicester were abysmal, the game was a whirlwind, although we bossed proceedings and the first half was possibly the most entertaining I’ve experienced this season. As a spectacle, it was engrossing, Fulham reminded the Foxes of top-flight football’s demands and I sincerely hope that we approach our remaining fixtures with the same enthusiasm because when we’re cooking, we feast.
Willian works wonders
Does anyone else get a weird tingling sensation whenever Willian gets on the ball, or is it just me? Defenders recoil at the sight of the Brazilian’s shoulder dips, he made a sorry example of Timothy Castagne on the left and he initiated our spree with a free-kick from an angle and distance which isn’t intended for scoring purposes. Daniel Iversen’s David Raya impression is uncanny, as Willian’s swirling in-swinger skipped off the turf Leicester’s ‘keeper lagged, he could track the flight of the ball, he was unopposed but Willi’s swazz was too hot to handle.
He’s a masterful ball carrier, he manipulates opponents with shimmies that should come with a disclaimer and his second of the afternoon – our fifth – was naughty, proper naughty. His chicanery had my head spinning, Manor Solomon drooled, Iversen’s bottom left corner had been pummelled by Willian’s whip and it was so delicious, punters wanted a Flake to go with the sauce.
We are humbled by Willian’s professionalism, I will never question age again because it’s irrelevant, it means nothing because he is improving, he’s impressing and with Willian at our disposal, Fulham are as dangerous as any other aspiring side in the division. He has something special, a tried and tested formula which is wreaking havoc and if he signs on for another season, he’ll continue to prove his doubters horribly wrong. Willian isn’t a has-been, he’s living in the present but on Monday, his efforts were emulative of the player that competed for and won major titles in his pomp.
Tom’s braced for action
The other brace bagger on the day was a mainstay that’s had to bide his time for regular minutes this season. In Andreas Pereira’s abrupt absence, it’s been Tom Cariney’s responsibility to pick up the pieces and in a capacity that enabled him to orchestrate and finish off scintillating counters with aplomb, our ever-dependable skipper stole the show because his application was simply breath taking. There aren’t many playmakers in the game that function like TC.
James Maddison’s a pretender, he couldn’t lace Tom’s Nikes if he won a competition to do so and it showed. Cairney’s passing was metronomic, he’s an unbelievably gifted distributor but his poise cannot be taught, it’s innate, and he’s also a master craftsman with lethal intent.
His first, guided home by his weaker right foot – not that you’d even know that’s true – was vintage Cairney sorcery. His subtle positioning offset Leicester’s shaken back line, and with space to let loose, his sculpted strike rendered Iversen helpless and hopeless. His second, however, was insane. The difficulty behind Cairney’s Hammy End thump cannot be understated, on the move, Tom’s first touch to stunt an awkward pass was technically sublime and his instantaneous strike was draped in conviction and design only he could envision.
Everything we achieved against the Foxes was audited by TC, his esteemed stamp of approval is just as valued today as it ever has been and speaking to Sammy after the game, we wondered why he and Pereira weren’t rotated more regularly because he can quite obviously still bust a move at this level. His contributions are going to be stupidly beneficial in the coming weeks, he instils a purpose in Fulham’s game plan and now he’s got the taste for goals again, his game-changing influence is bound to be abundant.
Keep it up, Vini
I haven’t been Carlos Vinicius’s greatest advocate, that is well documented, however in recent weeks following his insipid display at Villa Park, the stand-in striker has knuckled down, refocused and against Caglar Soyuncu and Wout Faes, the Brazilian striker was large and in charge. It’s evident that Marco and his coaching staff has invested a great deal of attention on Vinicius’s training programme, his transformation’s pronounced, he no longer loiters in the final third, he’s constantly on the prowl and when he had to stand his ground, he made his presence known.
He doesn’t occupy defences like Aleksandar Mitrovic does but there were similarities on Monday, that’s for certain. He assisted his midfield teammates by dropping into deeper areas, this distracted Leicester’s defenders and subsequently, huge swathes emerged behind the visitors’ back line and that was massively beneficial to Fulham’s incisive attacks.
Mitro involves himself with bravery, he doesn’t shy from confrontation and neither did Vini. He was fired up, Leicester couldn’t contain him and his goal was diverted with an opportunist’s nerve. The through ball from Harry Wilson was exquisite, but Carlos’s movement made it happen. He didn’t wait for possession to drift his way, he engineered the opening himself and as he latched onto Wilson’s thread through, with Iversen in his periphery, his fourth goal of the campaign epitomised his clinical nature.
He’s proficient when he doesn’t have an age to pick his spot, sharp shooting is a USP if his and while his strike was slightly scuffed, it was only ending up in one place and that’s the back of the net at Putney End, his favourite goal frame of all. It’s never been a question of Vini’s commitment, he wants to make an impact, it’s his underlying capability as a leading hitman that’s been scrutinised with good reason but at this current period of the season, he’s ticking all the right boxes. If he appreciates his pros, as well as his cons, he’ll definitely redefine his reputation so whatever you’re doing in the training field, Carlos, keep it up!
Still conceded three
Not going to sit here and pretend that conceding three second half goals, despite the hefty gap, isn’t annoying. Some of our own defending after the interval was questionable, we may have pulled out an unassailable lead but even against teams such as Leicester – which really aren’t in any credible shape or fettle – we can’t take our eyes off the prize because it may not have appeared so, but we’re still a member of the planet’s most testing division and games can change there course and direction without warning.
At 5-1, the score line wasn’t flattering or unjust, we fully deserved to be ahead by multiple goals but small lapses in concentration were exploited by the Foxes. Surely, even though it’s three points in the bag, the boys at the back can’t be entirely thrilled with their collective input because a clean sheet, or at least the bare minimum, would’ve been the perfect compliment to our dauntless attacking display.
Leicester attack is still capable of causing problems, league tables can often be deceiving, and I get that they were pretty terrible structurally, however they still won two clear penalties, they still forced Leno into some incredible saves and they still chipped away at our four-goal buffer and who can honestly say that they wouldn’t have liked a comprehensive whitewashing? I know Marco would’ve, and I’m sure that in the aftermath of an exhilarating victory, he’ll challenge the lads to up their standards in the coming days at Motspur Park.