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Positives and negatives: Fulham 5-0 West Ham United

Written by Cameron Ramsey on 11th December 2023

We’re a little speechless, not gonna lie, but Cam’s got plenty to say about Fulham’s latest 5-0er, a staggering victory on Stevenage Road that has caused a stir across the footballing world.

What has Marco Silva slipped into their morning cuppas? The blood of wolves that were midway through mating as they were murdered by coked-up grizzly bears? Whatever happened to Fulham, a failing team that had only scored 10 goals in 12 games before they obviously got the the most furious dressing down during the November international break, is beyond us all and Sunday’s walkover of West Ham United was a game that cannot be explained or rationalised. How? how does this even come to be?

The Hammers are a team we never, ever get the better of, Fulham just don’t win like this and what an emphatic way to stick two fingers up at an unbreakable hoodoo which has lasted almost a decade. David Moyes’s Irons, forged in polystyrene and papier-mâché, were a cheap imitation of the massive, intimidating club they claim to be and their support will be surprised to learn that points aren’t won by singing songs about bubbles and BTEC trophies that still aren’t as prestigious as the Intertoto. Not that we could even hear them anyway. Forest found out the hard way, so did the cockney rebels that actually live in Hampton.

We know tougher times are ahead of us. We will probably have unwelcome reality checks before 2023 is up but for now, we’re the best side this little planet has even seen and we’ll wear that statement until we’re reminded of our unforgiving surroundings once more. The here and now is all we can appreciate, though, and it’s full steam ahead with a depleted Newcastle United up next. Bring. It. On.

Positives

Switching on that Silva style

Back-to-back 5-0 whitewashings, five different goal scorers, five absurd days in Mrs Barclays’ company and a style of football which is the sexiest we’ve salivated over since promotion. Silva has reinvigorated a team devoid of purpose, we’re not Real Madrid, we’re not Barcelona, but we are parading vintage Blaugrana ball on the banks of the Thames and we are doing it our way, Marco’s way. We’re aesthetically gorgeous, choreographed and our eyes are set to kill.

Our visitors boast of winning the UEFA Conference League, they’re supposed to be as stubborn as they come but the standard established by the Whites was sensational. In every sequence, we were spellbinding, scintillating, confidence is the catalyst behind our recent upturn in form and the feel-good factor that’s touched the club in its entirety since our loss at Villa is contagious. Our game plan oozed courage, we were ferocious off the ball, predatorial on the break and every player involved was motivated to stand their ground, with a cheeky sprinkling of piss-taking pizzaz.

The Hammers were humbled. They were grossly unprepared for what the Whites inflicted so readily, they were stifled by our intensity and as we moved the ball at a rhythm they couldn’t suppress, they chased shadows and they stumbled blindly into the sinister jaws of a side that showed no mercy. Fulham executed their intentions, flogging Forest midweek was no fluke and they were committed to asserting themselves yet again.

This team of ours has been astonishing in our four previous outings. They sank their claws in against Wolves and didn’t release, they picked themselves up, bloodied and bruised, to decimate Forest following an enthralling defeat at Anfield and with a renewed sense of pride and ambition, they put an abrupt end to a winless run against the Irons which has stood since New Years Day, 2014. Ladies and gentlemen, we are back in the bigtime and at this time of year when festivities and special occasions are in full swing, we are banqueting on seductive football and we aren’t to be trifled with.

Strength in our spine

With certain members of the set-up being reintroduced to the starting line-up, we’ve a sturdy composition centrally, both at the back in the the middle of the park and our spine has never been stronger. Our central defensive duo of Calvin Bassey and Tosin Adarabioyo drew plaudits on Wednesday evening, our midfield double pivot of Joao Palhinha and Tom Cairney was also praised and on Sunday afternoon, headlines will read the same because they were all outstanding.

Jarrod Bowen was booted back to Hereford United by our central defenders; Bassey didn’t entertain any nonsense on the edge of his 18 and Tosin, who notched our third of the afternoon with a towering header, followed suit. The blend of brute force and production between CBass and Tosin is highly beneficial. Neither cancel one another out because their individual attributes differ, but not in such a way that they’re dysfunctional. Their communication is apparent, they’re on the same wavelength when holding the line and their discipline as a partnership stopped the Hammers in their tracks.

Ahead of the is another duo that compliment each other superbly. Palhinha and Cairney, from what I’ve seen, are just meant to be. Joao does the dirty work, Tom gift wraps it. Our Portuguese holding midfielder whipped in a marvellous cross for our opener, the shape on it was phenomenal and he is more than qualified to lock things down on his own. He scrunched James Ward-Prowse into an irrelevant puck of gristle and stamped him into the ground, Tomáš Souček paled in comparison and TC, our technical virtuoso on his 300th Fulham appearance, audited passing patterns meticulously and with his consent, the Whites rampaged as the Hammers went into hiding.

Our midfield trio, completed by Andreas Pereira, was balanced and enlivened and with another assist to add to his three against Forest, the Brazilian is excelling. Pereira’s found an extra yard, he was animated behind Jimenez, he interlinked with Cairney to ensure possession ticked over and he got beyond his marker to stretch play in our favour. Sharp on the ball, relevant when play developed progressively, he’s another that’s drastically upped their game and the Hammers couldn’t nail him down.

There’s method in the madness, measured sensibility, common sense and raw impulse, and when you combine these features, boldness is born. We’ve a fearlessness in our approach and it all stems from central positions and the personnel that mesh it all together. Opposites often attract, brains and brawn is present within our spine and the visitors wilted under the immense pressure and domineering control our structure exerted.

Wilson’s direct hit

Harry Wilson played battleships with the Hammy End goal mouth and as his left foot whipped the ball into the top left corner, A1, Lukasz Fabianski’s reputation was blown to smithereens. Direct hit. The Cottage exploded, as soon as Wilson dipped inside the Hammers’ shellshocked stopper was automatically cut adrift because when attackers weave their way into those kind of positions, bangers are imminent and our Welsh winger’s zinger was a guaranteed bin buster.

My seat’s behind the target, just to the right of it and I can’t begin to tell you just how beautiful Wilson’s strike looked in real time. Words don’t do it any justice, my purple prose could never, but from wherever you were perched, from whatever angle you saw it arc into the postage stamp, you’ll have your own description and it will be euphoric.

Wilson didn’t start proceedings but his impact was game changing. He was typically direct, unintimidated and he had West Ham’s left side gasping for oxygen. Harry’s movement winded the visitors, they couldn’t catch their breath as he swivelled into open space and while he could’ve tucked away a brace, one-on-one with Fabianski, he unselfishly teed-up Carlos Vinicius because that’s what team players do. His may not be the first name on the team sheet, but Wilson’s all about the greater good and his professionalism, as well as his opportunism, is a credit to Silva’s regime.

Raul’s rising confidence

Finding the back of the net against Aston Villa has worked miracles on Raul Jimenez’s recent transformation in front of the target. Jimenez’s simply couldn’t catch a break in the final third after his summer arrival, and as golden opportunities passed him by, he cut a forlorn figure up top, a has-been that was even cast aside in favour of Rodrigo Muniz.

One goal, a consolation at Villa Park, was all the Mexican’s confidence required and now, at this moment, he’s struck a rich vain of form that echoes his goal-laden years at Molineux, when he was regarded as one of the continent’s deadliest finishers. With Silva’s guidance, Jimenez’s presence in advanced areas has been tweaked and tuned, his involvement in deeper positions was constructive, he played Willian into an inviting situation with a delicate dink and as the Whites angled for inroads elsewhere, he was collaborative and he was also tensed for heavy-duty engagements.

Kurt Zouma and Nayef Aguerd are no pushovers but Raul had the better of them when possession was there to be claimed, he didn’t fade in shoulder-to-shoulder combat and his physical preparedness is something we haven’t noticed because before now, he had been too easy for defenders to contain. He is a different animal to what he’d previously become, his attitude and application is unrecognisable and his killer instinct is livelier than ever before. The first of our five goals belongs to Raul, his fourth in five outings, and it was a stunning header that slapped like a shotgun cartridge.

The 32-year-old’s anticipation was key, he reacted to Palhinha’s excellent cross as the Hammers’ defensive line lagged and he met it with conviction. That’s a Jimenez finish of old, but there’s nothing wrong with retro because every so often, throwbacks take the modern era by storm and given his sudden comeback, Raul is most definitely SW6’s in-thing.

Negatives

Willing Willi fit again

In his post-match presser, Silva said that Willian was withdrawn from play for precautionary reasons and is that’s the case, we hope he’s back on the left in next to no time at all. The Brazilian swept home our second of the afternoon, he was a menace until he was replaced by Wilson at the break and as he lay on the pitch, he appeared to be discomforted.

Hopefully it’s nothing more than an impact injury that can be shaken off in the coming week but there’s no time like the present and we need everybody to be fighting fit if we’re going to continue our impressive December shift. He is another that’s improved of late, he’s back in the goals and I hope he’ll be available for next weekend’s trip to Tyneside. Newcastle will have numerous absentees and Willian could cause major issues if he’s nursed back to health in time.

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