Aleksander Mitrovic’s goals got Fulham up – but can they keep them up?
There’s no doubting how important the striker is to Fulham or how tough the task his facing his team is as they battle against relegation.
But betting on Fulham to stay in the Premier League could be a shrewd move. Some bookmakers are offering odds as long as 8/1 on the Cottagers staying up. Expect those odds to shorten though if Fulham can make the most of their attacking ability.
Mitrovic has scored 10 goals in a struggling team this season and his ability to find the net could be the difference between Fulham getting out of their current predicament or making an immediate return to the Championship.
The good news for the Cottagers is that teams with prolific strikers tend to escape the drop – it’s the teams who struggle for goals who tend to go down.
So Fulham have the firepower, the question is whether they have the ammunition to make the most of Mitrovic’s ability in front of goal.
Former Chelsea man Andre Schurrle, back in London on a two-year loan from Borussia Dortmund, is a class operator.
However, manager Claudio Ranieri’s decision to leave out Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon is bewildering.
Both players were stars of Fulham’s promotion season and surely better equipped for top-flight football than the likes of Joe Bryan, who has been selected ahead of outstanding youngster Sessegnon.
Cairney and Sessegnon are crowd favourites and have proven their ability to supply Mitrovic. Ranieri surely must reconsider his stance and select the duo in order to improve the team and get the best out of the Serbian centre-forward.
It is Fulham’s shortcomings at the other end of the pitch which most of all threaten to undo the good work of last season.
On the face of it, Calum Chambers and Alfie Mawson were not bad signings as the club looked to shore up their defence. After all, Chambers has always been highly regarded at Arsenal and Mawson’s performances for Swansea earned him an England call-up.
But Chambers has been more effective in midfield than at centre-back and Mawson has struggled badly for fitness and form since his arrival at the Cottage.
That leaves Dennis Odoi and Tim Ream – two defenders who did well for Fulham in the second tier but have been exposed at a higher level.
Fulham’s goals-against column tells its own story and will ultimately be the main reason they find themselves back in the Championship if they are unable to escape the drop.
Nevertheless, betting on Fulham to stay in the Premier League is probably worth a punt. With Mitrovic leading from the front and the likes of Cairney and Sessegnon still likely to have an impact between now and the end of the season, Cottagers fans can feel optimistic.