Jack Stroudley looks ahead to our trip to South London as Fulham take on the Eagles.
While it wasn’t a routine day at the office, the three points picked up at home to Luton last week felt vital. Securing seven points from the opening five games has given Fulham a good foundation to build on going into this weekend away at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace away last season was bizarre given the red cards given to the Eagles but allowed Fulham to pick up an important three points after the World Cup break. Can Fulham repeat their fortunes to make it consecutive Premier League wins?
Similarly to Fulham, Crystal Palace sit on seven points after five games with wins over Sheffield United and Wolves as well as a point away at Brentford. We all know how Hodgson will set up his side, tough to break down and clinical in the final third. The likes of Eberechi Eze and the in-form Odsonne Edouard will be the real danger-men that Fulham will have to look out for.
Palace’s squad is relatively thin and that is being tested at the moment with a few key personnel out. Despite signing a new contract in the summer, Michael Olise is out with a thigh injury and slightly further back key defender Marc Guehi is injured as well as James Tomkins and Jefferson Lerma, meaning that Hodgson has been forced to play inexperienced defender Chris Richards, someone that Fulham could exploit on Saturday.
How do we prepare?
Following Marco Silva’s press conference, we’ve got some updated team news and given that, here’s how I’d line-up.
I would make two changes to the side that narrowly beat Luton 1-0. The first of those is in defence with Antonee Robinson coming in for Timothy Castagne. This has nothing to do with Castagne’s performance against the Hatters; he more than held his own but if Robinson is back then he has to start for me. His pace and ability in the attacking third could be crucial to us creating the chances that we struggled to do last week.
The second change is Carlos Vinicius replacing Raul Jimenez. I don’t want to write off Jimenez just yet, but I truly believe that Vinicius is a much better forward for us at this moment in time. His ability to link the play is something we need to take advantage of and getting off the mark last week against Luton will do the Brazilian the world of confidence.
Elsewhere I wouldn’t change too much. There’s been murmurings online about Willian’s performances and while I agree he hasn’t been as threatening as last season, it feels too early to change things drastically. I’d give the Brazilian another week against a side more likely to push forward and leave gaps which could be exploited.
The final verdict
I think this is a good time to play Palace, a few key players out along with Fulham looking to prove a point after last weekends uninspiring performance against Luton could give us the edge. Similarly to Fulham, I think Crystal Palace have slightly over-performed this season with their points total not correlating with performances. This one could genuinely go either way and I’m going to sit on the fence and go with a draw.