Tuesday’s game marks exactly eight weeks since Fulham triumphed over Brentford in the Championship play-off final. How have the opening weeks of this new campaign been for Scott Parker’s side?
It’s been a tricky start to life back in the Premier League. Fulham were unlucky to come up against an in-form Arsenal on the opening day. The Cottagers actually played quite well in patches, but the game showcased the step up in quality from the Championship to England’s top table. Fulham then travelled to Leeds and found themselves 4-1 down after some horrendous defending. They didn’t let their heads drop, though, pulling it back to 4-3 and almost snatching a point when they hit the post. Unusually for him, Scott Parker was very critical of his side after that game and will be hoping his volley has the desired effect.
Do you think the fact Parker fielded a strong team for the win over Sheffield Wednesday in the last round suggests he’s hoping for a decent cup run this year, too?
A cup run would be nice, but their priority is staying in the league. The line-up against Wednesday was possibly more of an attempt by Parker for some of his key men to find some form and confidence after the loss at Leeds.
At the time of writing, the club have brought in three players on permanent contracts, with three joining on loan. What have you made of the dealings so far and in which areas could they strengthen further?
Of the permanent signings to date, Netherlands international Kenny Tete has stood out since arriving from Lyon. He’s an attacking right-back who loves to get forward and has already claimed two assists, at the time of writing. Left-back Antonee Robinson could be a good bit of business after he impressed at Wigan. Harrison Reed signed permanently from Southampton after some brilliant displays during a loan spell last season. Signing French World Cup winner Alphonse Areola with a view to a permanent deal is also something of a coup, while bringing in Mario Lemina and Ola Aina on loan has strengthened the pack. Parker remains keen to bring in at least one centre-back and a host of names have been linked.
Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on Tuesday evening?
Aleksandar Mitrovic remains their star but could well be rested. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa has looked a different player from the one that struggled in the Premier League two years ago. He spent last season on loan at Valencia and has been really impressive in the midfield since his return to the Cottage. He’s big and strong and can help out at both ends of the pitch.
How are Fulham likely to set up at the Brentford Community Stadium?
It’s hard to say which team Parker will name given Fulham’s hectic schedule but I think it will be a strong one given it's a London derby against their fierce rivals. Formation-wise, he tends to go for a variation of a 4-2-3-1 with two wide players supporting a lone frontman. Both full-backs are given licence to bomb on down the flanks.
What’s your score prediction for this one?
For once, I called it right when I went for a 2-1 Fulham win in the play-off final. I fancy the visitors to progress by the same scoreline tonight.
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