After four disappointing results (three losses and the Brentford draw), Arsenal have put together four consecutive league wins. Five points clear with just 12 matches to go. With just 36 points left in play Arsenal are 21 ahead of fifth place. Of course, top four is no longer the goal, but as they found out in early February, and the first hour against Bournemouth, every game must be taken seriously.
Fulham enters the weekend having dropped three points on Monday against Brentford despite a solid run of form over the previous month. In February they drew nil-nil against Chelsea, defeated Sunderland and Leeds United in the FA Cup, and had league wins over Brighton and Nottingham Forest. They’ve only lost once at home in their last nine matches across competitions and will be looking for a quick rebound in a London derby.
For this week’s Q&A with the opposition we talked with Alan Drewett Jr. from The Hammy End to get his thoughts on Marco Silva, their remarkable return to the Premier League, European aspirations, and the upcoming match.
TSF: The last two times Fulham were promoted they finished 18th and 19th in the Premier League. Now, this season they are 7th with 11 wins and a positive goal difference. In the summer could you have even imagined the club would be able to sustain this form for this long? What’s been the biggest difference between this year and those previous two attempts to stay in the league?
The Hammy End: I think all of us would have taken 17th by goal difference before a ball was kicked against Liverpool back in August. The biggest difference in my opinion is Marco Silva. He clearly has more of a say over transfers and we have got the right players in. We signed Premier League experience and players that fit a system rather than the gung-ho approach in our last two attempts.
TSF: Marco Silva has a +50% win record since joining Fulham, the best of his four jobs in England (Everton was 40%, Watford 31%, & Hull City 36%). Given their impressive performance this season, do you think there is a risk that a more established club in the Premier League (or in Europe) try to pull him away in the summer?
The Hammy End: I’ve never feared Silva will leave and I still don’t to be honest. I think his past experiences have tarnished his reputation and he’s a proud man. He’s building something good here and if he did ever leave, it would have to be for a big club that he couldn’t possibly say no to.
TSF: If a Europa Conference League spot opens up or not remains to be seen (based on Manchester United’s season), but regardless Fulham are just three points out of fifth and the Europa League spot. With just 12 league matches remaining, what odds would you give the club at finishing 5th or 6th?
The Hammy End: I can’t see us finishing that high up, unfortunately. I can see us finishing 9th or 10th but it would still go down as an amazing season. We have a fairly good run of home games towards the end of the season after Sunday so who knows, but I think 10th is achievable. It’s a great platform to build on for next season.
TSF: As this will be our last time talking before the end of the season. What positions will Fulham focus on in the summer transfer market?
The Hammy End: I think we need to strengthen in the centre of midfield as Reed has been hit and miss this season and when we don’t have Palhinha available, our midfield struggles. We signed Lukic from Torino and he hasn’t started off that great but the jury is still out on whether he’ll be a success. We could do with a backup for Robinson who has also been a revelation this season for us. We don’t need too much in the summer but I think it will be a case of adding quality over quantity. As long as we can keep the likes of Palhinha, Mitrovic, and Solomon, I’m happy.
TSF: And finally, with Arsenal coming to Craven Cottage how do you think Marco Silva will set Fulham up on the pitch and what is your prediction for the final scoreline?
The Hammy End: If we had Palhinha available, I’d be a bit more confident we can get a positive result of some sort because our home form has been strong. I’m hoping we can get a draw and I will go for a 1-1 but I am expecting a narrow defeat. We’ve only conceded more than one goal on one occasion since November so I don’t expect it to be a walkover but either way, it will be close.
Thanks to Alan and The Hammy End for talking with us ahead of the game.