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Fulham’s top 10 moments of 2023

Written by George Rossiter on 30th December 2023

Corner against Arsenal at Craven Cottage
© Adam Farquharson 2024

After Jack Stroudley took a look at the low points of the calendar year, George Rossiter steps up to look at the highs of 2023, and there’s been a lot of them. You’ll enjoy this one…

10. A first defeat for Postecoglu

Coming into round two of the EFL Cup, Tottenham had gained all sorts of admirers for their new “Angeball” style that had left them fighting at the top of the Premier League in the early stages of the season. Postecoglu bought a strong side to the Cottage, including the returning Manor Solomon, but a Micky Van de Ven own goal gave Fulham a first half lead. Richarlison levelled in the second half but neither side could find a winner and the tie ended in penalties. A Davinson Sanchez miss meant perfection from the spot for Fulham would ensure progress in the cup. Pereira, Jimenez, Wilson, Palhinha and Tete duly obliged, and Ange Postecoglu had his first defeat in English football. 

9. Palhinha nicks a point at the Emirates

Mikel Arteta’s side have made light work of most of their opponents over the last 18 months, and were favourites to take three points from Fulham in this London derby. So it came as a huge shock when Andreas Pereira capitalised on a defensive mistake to give the Whites the lead a minute in. Arsenal rallied in the second half, however, and in a 13 minute period scored twice and saw Calvin Bassey sent off, leaving the game completely in the Gunners’ hands. Step up Joao Palhinha, who headed home a Harrison Reed corner to level the tie. 11 minutes of chaos ensued in added time, with wave after wave of Arsenal attacks and a crazy Adama counter which nearly gave Fulham all three points. 

8. King Kenny reigns at the Bridge

Just three weeks on from the reverse fixture at the Cottage, Marco Silva’s side made the short journey across South West London for the derby with Chelsea. The last three League meetings between the sides at Stamford Bridge has ended in a 2-0 victory for the Blues, but this well-fought and well-earned goalless draw bucked that trend. Kenny Tete in particular put in a masterclass of defending, with one of the great individual Fulham performances in recent memory. That wasn’t the only positive result in the derby in 2023, more on that later. 

7. Deadline Day drama

There’s always drama when the final day of the summer window comes about, for better or for worse. The summer of 2023 was no different. Aleksandar Mitrovic had already left for Saudi Arabia, and the thought of losing another key player was borderline unbearable.

Unfortunately the German powerhouses of Bayern Munich were sniffing around Joao Palhinha, with a deal close assuming Fulham could find a replacement. Unfortunately for Bayern, they could not, and Joao’s move was called off at the final hour, to the jubilation of Fulham fans across social media. Within days, the celebrations were reborn as Palhinha signed a new long-term contract. What a roller-coaster of emotions.

6. Top half…and above Chelsea!

The 2022/23 season had been a great one for Fulham. A great run in the FA Cup nearly ended in a trip to Wembley and results in the league had been impressive too. Fulham were by no means favourites for relegation, but for Marco Silva to guide his side into the top half of the table at the first time of asking after promotion was a hell of an achievement. Even more important though, for a generation of fans that had never seen the like, was finishing a top division season above Chelsea, something that hadn’t happened for a good 40 years. 

5. Back-to-back 5-0 victories

Fulham had found their goalscoring touch for the first time in the 2023/24 season. After previous struggles to work Raul Jimenez into the side amongst Fulham’s other attacking options, six goals in two games against Wolves at the Cottage and Liverpool at Anfield had given this side a new lease of life. What happened next though, nobody could’ve predicted. Nottingham Forest and West Ham came to the Cottage in the space of four December days and were both pummelled by five goals to nil, with seven different players scoring in the process. Not bad for the goal difference, that.

4. Silva’s Golden News

After weeks of rumours in the summer regarding the manager’s future amid speculation coming from Saudi Arabia, to see him stay was a big relief come the opening day of the Premier League season. What was even more of a relief was the club statement on October 24th announcing that Marco Silva had signed a new deal until the summer of 2026. Most, if not all of the wonderful moments experienced in his tenure since joining Fulham in 2021, have come down to his incredible management of the club. Keeping Silva for another few seasons is the most important business the Khans have done all year. 

3. Solomon’s seaside smash and grab

Brighton were a force to be reckoned with last season. Roberto de Zerbi’s side played superb football and seemed to have a new superstar emerge on a monthly basis, including the likes of Evan Ferguson and Kaoru Mitoma. Fulham were missing Mitrovic, Kebano and Cairney through injury and on the day Brighton were clearly the better side. Their xG total was two higher than Fulham’s, a result of eight more corners, 16 more shots and a large share of possession. But while any game remains at 0-0, anything can happen. In the 88th minute of the game, Carlos Vinicius held the ball up well and played a perfect pass round his defender for Manor Solomon to run onto. The Israeli winger took the perfect touch towards the left side of the box and finished exquisitely, sending the away fans into absolute delirium. 

2. Breaking new ground in the League Cup

When Fulham were drawn away to Everton in the League cup Quarter Finals, fans were optimistic after missing out on the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle. However, come the game in December, Everton had been hit with a points deduction and gone on a brilliant run of wins in the Premier League. The game was a tense affair, with Fulham taking a first half league via an own goal before being pegged back in the second half, much like the Tottenham game in the second round. And just like that game, we went to penalties.

The nerves and atmosphere in the away end were like something I’d never experienced following Fulham before. Every penalty meant so much to a fanbase who so rarely experienced cup joy. After a miss from De Cordova-Reid, it looked to be Everton who would make the semi finals. Alas, misses from Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye left Tosin with chance to send Fulham to a first ever League Cup semi-final. Did he have the bollocks to put it away? You bet he did. Those history making Whites, you’ve got to love them. 

1. Derby Day delight

The last time Fulham won the SW6 derby, our current assistant manager had scored the winner and fights between fans had broken out on the Craven Cottage pitch. We’d come close since 2006 but ultimately never quite got the better of them again since. Clint Dempsey’s missed penalty on Valentine’s Day 2011 gave us the impression that it might just not happen again. But this year was different. Todd Boehly’s Chelsea weren’t the same animal that Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea were, and Fulham fans sensed an opportunity. Under the lights at the Cottage with the TV cameras around, there was a real sense of optimism in the air. That carried onto the pitch, and 25 minutes in it was Willian who opened the scoring against his former employers, a lead that remained until half time.

That advantage didn’t last for long after it though. Koulibably equalised within minutes of the restart, before a moment of madness from debutant Joao Felix left Chelsea with half an hour to play with ten men. That feeling of opportunism was back as the Fulham faithful raised their voices to push the team on. 73 minutes in, the ball falls to Andreas Pereira outside the box, one Brazilian finds another. Enter stage left, Carlos Vinicius Alves Morais. Vini hadn’t found his feet in a Fulham shirt, until now, his header going past Kepa Arrizzabalaga and giving Fulham a lead that they kept until the final whistle. A win in the SW6 derby, Carlos Vinicius’ name written into Fulham history, and a night to truly cherish. 

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