There was a very brief moment when we believed that the uber-exciting Premier League would feature eighteen times competing for various honours and places – admission to different European competitions, league titles, top-half finishes, overachievement – and then there’d be Fulham and West Brom.
Well, luckily for them, it hasn’t quite transpired as such, as both Sheffield United and Burnley (two prime examples of how to apply a style and stick it to it before ultimately reaping the rewards) are glued to the bottom of the table and seem in worse shape than Scott Parker’s Fulham, believe it or not.
Now, has their only win come against West Brom? Yes. Are they overly reliant on Aleksandar Mitrovic despite a clear path safety hinging on him being less prominent in their attacking build-up? Again, yes. The problem becomes more a question of whether they want to stick with Scott Parker for now or not – because they’ll certainly believe there’s someone who doesn’t need to fall back to Plan D after just a handful of games.
And West Ham? Well, they’re simultaneously the best and worst team in the division and it alternates every week, which is the most David Moyes-themed rollercoaster one could possibly imagine. Which way does this go?
With the emphasis on defensive resurgence for both sides, I expect this to be cagey early doors. The primary reason is because both, given their respective ambitions, have found the net on enough occasions. West Ham have as many goals as Leeds, and five more than top-half Wolves. Fulham, for their struggles, are still averaging a goal a game. And once they don’t concede twice a game, they’re taking points.
Except conceding twice a game is exactly the average they’re mounting at the moment – conceding 14 times in just seven games. That trend needs to go now if these sides can achieve what their rather impatient owners wish for them to do.
Now, I never said relying on him didn’t produce results, merely that it’s a concession that you’re not capable of producing anything in slightly-less-direct buildup. It’s like when West Ham brought on Andy Carroll, or when Birmingham persisted with seven-foot Serb Nikola Zigic.
Jesus, imagine both he and Mitro in the same national side. I don’t think the ball would have touched a blade of grass until it hit the net. Total football.
Fulham allow you on the ball, and as Fornals pads his stats, he’ll fall in line for this award. That, and the fact he’s in a rich run of form that saw him bag against Liverpool and throw in a handful of impressive displays to boot. If West Ham take three points here, I suspect he’ll be central to their success – and everyone loves the cliched MOTM award, don’t they?
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