We head into this top-of-the-table clash with West Brom desperate for three points to further tighten our grip on second place in the table. Last weekend’s visit to Forest was billed as one of the toughest trips of the season so far – but we were far superior and played them off the park. For a side who’s form has flitted all over the place recently we seem to be back on the right track and a win here would be our fourth in a row.
However, it’s always easier on paper than in reality and West Brom are definitely the trickiest test so far. They are coming into the game sat in third, just one point behind us but look a very capable side. Alex Mowatt, Karlan Grant and Callum Robinson have all looked good this season, to name just a few. It will be hard, but I am backing us to come away with the three points.
The longest burning flame in the world currently discovered is a burning coal seam in Australia, beneath Mount Wingen. It’s been going for nearly 6,000 years but after opening his goal tally nearly 11 weeks ago against Huddersfield, Aleksandar Mitrovic is also still on fire. He’s the top scorer in the English professional game right now and has a minutes per goal (MPG) that is frightening to look at (82). Here is your reminder that there’s a certain ex-manager of ours who reckons Dominic Solanke is better…
I’m sure that the squad will be boosted by the return of Kenny Tete as well. He got 20 minutes against Forest and slotted into the defence as if he’d never been away. I think he should start here, it makes no sense to not start your best players in the biggest games. Denis Odoi has proved an able deputy but Tete starts every game over him if fit in my opinion. Hopefully, we should also see Fabio Carvalho for the first time since we beat Hull at home in August, but it really remains to be seen as communication around him and his state has thus far been vague. I hope he’s back in soon, he has the potential to be a real difference-maker for us. However, I’m confident in whatever eleven Silva picks to get the job done.
Come on Fulham!
SCORE PREDICTION: Fulham 3-0 West Brom
PREDICTED LINE-UP: 4-2-3-1
H2H LEAGUE RECORD (OVERALL)
- PLAYED – 76
- FULHAM WINS – 25
- DRAWS – 20
- WBA WINS – 31
- GOALS SCORED – 97
- GOALS CONCEDED – 110
H2H LEAGUE RECORD (HOME)
- PLAYED – 38
- FULHAM WINS – 17
- DRAWS – 10
- WBA WINS – 11
- GOALS SCORED – 55
- GOALS CONCEDED – 30
LAST 5 GAMES
- WBA 2-2 FULHAM
- FULHAM 2-0 WBA
- WBA 0-0 FULHAM
- FULHAM 1-1 WBA
- WBA 1-1 FULHAM
BIGGEST WINS AT FULHAM
- FULHAM 6-1 WBA (2005/06)
- FULHAM 4-0 WBA (1975/76)
- FULHAM 3-0 WBA (1938/39, 2002/03, 2010/11, 2012/13)
PLAYERS IN COMMON
Tosin Adarabioyo, Chris Baird, Giles Barnes, David Button, Joe Connor, Zoltan Gera, Jonathan Greening, Mark Grew, Geoff Horsfield, Junichi Inamoto, Stefan Johansen, Diomansy Kamara, Tony Lange, Andy Lonergan, Stacy North, Paul Peschisolido, Kieran Richardson, Bobby Robson, Arthur Rowley, Nicky Shorey, Brian Talbot, Pascal Zuberbuhler.
DID YOU KNOW?
Fulham haven’t lost a league game at home to WBA since 1967. That’s a run of 17 league matches unbeaten at home.
Here’s a WBA perspective from The Baggies Podcast ahead of Saturday’s early kick-off at the Cottage…
What are you thoughts on Valérien Ismaël so far?
Valerien Ismael came into the club as a bit of an unknown quantity to West Bromwich Albion fans, but after hearing great things from Barnsley fans everyone really began to get excited about the appointment.
Ismael has brought with him a style of play that we haven’t really seen before, the season began with a physical, high-pressing and direct style of play that was very effective at the beginning of the season.
There have been some peaks and troughs as would be expected when this group of players are working with a style they’ve never encountered before, most notably the defeats against Swansea City and Stoke City where both teams gameplans were set out perfectly to extinguish ‘Val-Ball’.
How does the current WBA side compare with the Baggies teams who have won promotion to the Premier League in the past?
The style of play is completely different to the sides that have won promotion before, under Slaven Bilic it was a ball-playing, possession-based outfit.
Personnel wise it’s not much better than previous years, but I believe that in previous years there were more ‘game-changers’ as such, for example, Matheus Pereira could change a game in a second. Baggies’ fans were hoping that Grady Diangana would fill those boots but I’m not convinced that’ll happen.
What are your strengths/weaknesses as a team?
A strength of ours would certainly be defensive solidity particularly from set-pieces and aerial balls, having conceded the second least amount of goals.
Matt Clarke on-loan from Brighton has been essential to this, adding balance on the left side of the back three, it’s certainly been a few years since we’ve had a decent ball-playing left-footed centre-back.
In terms of weaknesses, we can definitely be vulnerable when we don’t employ the high-press to its fullest extent, you can find there’s too much room for the opposition to play into meaning we get bypassed too easily.
If you could sign one Fulham player, who would it be and why?
If we could sign one player it would have to be Alexandar Mitrovic, he’s a player that would suit our system perfectly and would’ve certainly scored one of the many opportunities we created against Bristol City – a proper Championship goalscorer.
If I offered you a draw now, would you take it?
I wouldn’t take a draw as I feel games like this are the ones that get you promoted. I’m sure Ismael would feel pretty strongly about this as there’s no such thing in his books as playing for a draw.
I’d certainly want to see us play to win.
It’s appearing like a three horse race for the top two. If that is to be the case, which one do you see missing out on the automatic spots?
I’d say it would be very unwise of me to attempt to predict that but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the table stay the way it is, especially if we don’t win on Saturday. Bournemouth look very strong and so do yourselves, there’s a lot riding on Saturday’s game and also when you face the Cherries in December.
How do you see the game panning out?
Of course Marco Silva has got you dominating a lot of teams on the ball but also creating plenty of chances to supplement the possession.
If we employ the high-press effectively by squeezing high up the pitch rather than just in the middle then I can see us creating plenty of chances, however, if we don’t I can see us being bypassed easily.
If Albion can inflict damage from throw-ins and corners and make things uncomfortable then it’ll be a good performance, but it’s such a tough one to call.
FULHAM 2-2 WEST BROM
LEAGUE POSITION: 3RD
LEAGUE FORM: WLWLW
AWAY FORM: LLWDW
LAST RESULT: WEST BROM 3-0 BRISTOL CITY
GOALS SCORED: 25 (3RD)
GOALS CONCEDED: 11 (22ND)
AVERAGE POSSESSION: 51% (8TH)
DISCIPLINE: 25 YELLOWS 0 REDS (17TH)
TOP SCORER: KARLAN GRANT (7)
MOST ASSISTS: CALLUM ROBINSON (4)