Opposition preview: Fulham FC

The new season is here! Before we jump back on board the rollercoaster that is Everton, let’s take a look at todays opponents: straight outta West London, Fulham FC.

Exceeding Expectations

Given their status as relegation fodder in their recent spells in the top flight, it was surprising to see how well Fulham performed last season. A late season slump saw them finish 10th, but most of the season was spent in and around the hunt to qualify for the Europa Conference League.

A lot of credit for that has to go Marco Silva. Blues tend to have mixed feelings about the Portugese (I, for one, still expect him to bring on Theo Walcott in the 65th minute every week), but he is now showing his ability. It would perhaps be surprising if they could maintain that form this season, however, given the uncertainty around their squad.

Ins and Outs

Silva appears to be something of a victim of his own success this season. Players who contributed enourmously to Fulham’s form last season are reportedly looking to cash in on that success and move on. Aleksander Mitrovic contributed 14 goals last season despite serving an 8 game ban for raising his hands to an offical. His intention is reportedly to leave Fulham to join the Saudi goldrush. Raul Jimenez’s arrival from Wolves should provide some insurance against that.

Willian, who made such a contribution last season, also looks set to jump ship to Saudi just weeks after signing a new deal. The arrival of Calvin Bassey from Ajax is a major coup for the Cottagers and he will look to recreate the form that powered Rangers to the Europa League finalo 2 seasons ago.

Key Player

Palhina was at the heart of everything good Fulham did last season. The Portugese midfielder offered poise, guile and vision that made them attractive to watch and effective. Paired with Harrison Reed’s, erm, less cultured approach, Palhina was able to take the game to opponents. Keeping hold of him for another season is, perhaps more than any other player, crucial to Fulham’s chances this term. Liverpool were rumoured to have offered £45m for his services earlier in the window, but a serious shoulder injury will see him miss the early part of the season.

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