After winning the Championship title last season, Fulham (5/4 to be relegated) are set for another crack at the Premier League and hoping to avoid an immediate return to the second-tier.
Fulham have become the archetypal yo-yo club over recent years, winning three promotions but suffering two relegations since 2018.
They clearly have a squad far too strong for the Championship, having finished two points clear at the summit last term despite winning just one of their final five games.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (50/1 Premier League top goalscorer) comfortably claimed the Golden Boot, registering an incredible 43 times in 46 appearances, but maintaining those high standards in the top flight has proven problematic in the past for the Serbian.
Head coach Marco Silva has been given some money to play with in the transfer market, adding four new faces to his squad and now it’s a case of trying to get them bedded in ahead of what will likely be a tough campaign.
Fulham have been handed a tough opening fixture with a home clash against Liverpool set to get their campaign underway on August 6th (Match betting – Fulham 17/2, Draw 9/2, Liverpool 2/7).
Hopes for the new season
To put it simply, survival. Fulham’s recent record in the Premier League doesn’t make for pleasant reading. The Cottagers finished 19th in 2018-19, 10 points from safety, and 11 points adrift when ending 2020-21 in 18th.
Leeds and Everton survived by the skin of their teeth last season, but the expectation is that both of those clubs will improve this term, making it tough to call who, apart from the newly promoted trio of Fulham (4/7 to stay up), Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, will be fighting it out at the bottom.
Silva won’t be putting too much focus on trying to enjoy a run in the FA Cup or League Cup, with securing Fulham’s top-flight status his primary aim.
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Arrivals and departures
Joao Palhinha – £18m – Sporting Lisbon
Andreas Pereira – £8.55m – Manchester United
Manor Solomon – loan – Shakhtar Donetsk
Timmy Abraham – Released – Estoril
Fabio Carvalho – £5m – Liverpool
Cyrus Christie – Released
Fabri – Released
Michael Hector – Released
Alfie Mawson – Released
Jean Michael Seri – free – Hull
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa – £13.50m – Napoli
After last season’s exploits, it’s fair to say Mitrovic will likely be Fulham’s leading man again this campaign. If the Serbia international fails to deliver, then the Cottagers could be set for relegation. No one would expect him to match his haul of 46 goals from the Championship. However, hitting double figures will be required to give his side a chance of staying up.
New arrivals Palhinha and Pereira could also prove to be important figures in midfield, but the jury is still out on both as they look to find their feet in new surroundings.
Silva’s record in English football is mixed at best. The Portuguese was tasked with trying to keep Hull in the Premier League in 2016-17, but, despite going close, he was unable to avoid the drop.
A switch to Watford followed at the end of the season, and Everton soon snapped him up after some impressive results with the Hornets in the Premier League.
He spent 19 months at Goodison Park but was sacked in December 2019, with the club sitting 18th in the standings.
The 45-year-old has rebuilt his reputation at Fulham, earning promotion in his first season at the helm, courtesy of some eye-catching football.
Fulham played on the front foot last season, pressing high, and they netted 106 times, falling two short of the all-time second-tier record set by Manchester City in 2001-02.
Silva’s biggest test will be trying to stay true to the tactics that saw them perform so well in the Championship. However, with higher-level opposition to face each week, it’s easier said than done.
The west London outfit were deployed in a 4-2-3-1 formation throughout last season, and Silva is unlikely to move away from that.
Last season: 1st in Championship
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