The Turf Moor curse of 1951 lives on to haunt Fulham’s failed victory parade. This is a draw that feels exactly like a loss and Cam, almost begrudgingly, wants to get to the nub of the matter in his own way.
Muniz’s emotional moment
For Rodrigo Muniz, becoming a Premier League goal scorer is quite the honour. Extending Fulham’s lead was an emotional moment for the Brazilian and while it won’t change my underlying opinion of him, I couldn’t be happier for him and his level of performance on Saturday afternoon. Throughout the game until he was replaced by Armando Broja in the 74th minute, Muniz was a handful in the final third and he caused genuine issues.
Hjalmar Ekdal and his defensive teammates couldn’t subdue him, his activity was constant, he initiated a high press and his hold-up play, both on the move and static, enabled the Whites to distribute possession convincingly across the park. It was undoubtedly Rodrigo’s finest outing in Fulham colours in the top-flight, he didn’t let Burnley’s defensive line rest and his goal was opportune, as well as inventive.
He prayed upon poor defending as Antonee Robinson hoofed it sky bound, James Trafford was vulnerable and Muniz took his chance with complete confidence. Trafford pawed at the 22-year-old’s delicate lob, his fingertips brushed off the underside of the ball but it only aided the ball’s trajectory and as it skipped into a vacant goalmouth, Rodrigo basked in the glory and he was visibly moved by what he’d just achieved.
Holding back the tears, only just, Muniz soaked up his moment to savour and while he isn’t a consistent performer or the most gifted of strikers in the first place, he always gives his all whenever he’s fielded and that I cannot refute. Now Carlos Vinicius is out of the picture, and as Broja’s got to acclimatise to Silva’s system, Muniz will not have a better opportunity to stamp his claim in the Premier League and now he’s finally off the mark, I sincerely hope he kicks. Netting in the promised land will prove to be a seismic weight off his young shoulders and good on him. He was my Man of the Match and it is fully merited, too.
Costly individual errors
Two goals to the good at the break, in the ascendency with very little reason to be cautious, the Whites should’ve been three goals up as the second half got underway but as soon as time surpassed seventy minutes, momentum shifted and individual errors ultimately cost us. The fact the game-changing faults came from two massively dependable squad members is also nauseating.
For Burnley’s and David Datro Fofana’s first, the Clarets broke along the left at pace as we tried to regroup. Timothy Castagne was out of position and it was left to Harrison Reed to close them down on the retreat, but that isn’t specifically where we were punished. Lorenz Assignon, a Deadline Day acquisition for the hosts, scooped a cross into the penalty area, it could’ve been dealt with without the need for Bernd Leno to leave his six-yard box but the German stopper’s misjudgement worked to Fofana’s benefit perfectly.
Leno was clearly caught in two minds, his hesitation offset our defensive positioning, as those at the back expected his to claim the ball, but as he suddenly realised he was nowhere near the flight of the cross, Burnley’s Chelsea loanee had an empty net to nod into and from there, Burnley tails were bolt upright. Heading into extra time, the hosts piled on the pressure, they’d established a foothold and they were hellbent on snatching a late equaliser and they did, by way of Kenny Tete’s miscalculated swipe at thin air.
He’s known as Kung fu Kenny for his combativeness but that probably couldn’t have been further from the truth in the 91st minute. A lofted ball was fed along the left and all Tete needed to do was cut it out and blast it into the stratosphere. Block it with an arse cheek, an elbow, just don’t make a meal out of it. Oh dear. As Burnley rounded Kenny with minimal effort, because he’d done all the hard work for them, they’d nothing more to do than load the penalty area with a semi-decent cross and that’s what Wilson Odobert did. Fofana, again, was on-hand to divert the leveller and it’s obvious that both goals were definitely preventable.
Communication and timing went for a walk, perhaps we were exposed at the back due to bodies being out of position but Burnley barely tested the target before the closing twenty minutes, and all that was needed for them to get themselves back into the game was two direct breakaways. On both occasions our discipline and concentration, collectively and indeed individually, evaporated within an instance.
Only Fulham could fumble a two-goal lead because of self-inflicted mistakes. Burnley upped the intensity, there’s no denying that, but they weren’t deserving of a point and the only reason they found reward was because we shit the bed and that is becoming a more than frequent occurrence. Whenever we drop points, it’s usually because we’re the masters of our own downfall and on this occasion, it stings even more because Bernd and Kenny are culpable and they have to own their personal blunderings.
Limping out of action
Our squad list is already paper thin and the last thing we need is more casualties. Two players of ours limped into the latter stages and according to Marco Silva, they’re going to be assessed in the coming days to gauge the extent of their knocks. Tosin Adarabioyo and debutant Broja were hobbling as Burnley stepped things up, their lessened mobility didn’t necessarily help our attempts to shut them out but I’m only concerned about their fitness, because we need all available hands on deck for the remainder of the season.
I’m not saying their respective bumps are going to be season ending, because they won’t be, of course, they appeared to be relatively innocuous but even if either of them are out for a week, maybe two, it disrupts Silva’s selection dilemma even further and it’s crucial that they return to matchday matters as soon as physically possible.
Having said all this, there’s probably absolutely nothing wrong with them, ’tis nothing more than a scratch and all that, but fearing extra setbacks is something I’m naturally worried about, it’s not an irrational reaction, and I wish the both of them a swift recovery, if they even actually need medical assistance or lighter midweek duties.