After an unbeaten start to the season, many pundits will be eating their words having tipped the Whites for a relegation battle. But, following an impressive summer of recruitment, Slaviša Jokanović has built a squad capable of achieving big things this season. With a much-needed injection of pace and a change in formation, the Whites have impressed so far this term and will look to keep that going against Birmingham. Blues, though, will be a tough test and will be looking to build on their recent 3-0 victory over Norwich and last season’s 10th-place finish.
While they’ve only spent £4m over the last five years, Gary Rowett has developed an incredibly organised and disciplined side that, on their day, can beat anyone in this division. With Fulham looking to dominate possession, Birmingham will be comfortable to sit and soak up the pressure, using the likes of Che Adams, Jacques Maghoma and David Cotterill on the break. Despite an up and down start to the season, Birmingham have more than enough firepower to cause Fulham problems today. Apart from the aforementioned names, summer signing Greg Stewart will be one to keep an eye on after an impressive campaign last season for Dundee, notching up nine goals and 15 assists in the Scottish Premiership. As for Fulham, there could be a debut for deadline-day signing Chris Martin, who joined on loan from Derby. Martin’s arrival should be the final piece in the jigsaw for Jokanović’s new-look side, with the targetman boasting a formidable record in this division.
Indeed, only our former striker Ross McCormack and Tom Cairney have created more chances than Martin in the last four Championship seasons. Martin’s ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play could be crucial. With the likes of Neeskens Kebano, Floyd Ayité, Sone Aluko and Cairney just behind him, Fulham have more than enough quality in the final third. Even though the Club lost McCormack and Moussa Dembélé, I believe we’ve greatly improved the squad and, with the new signings hitting the ground running, Fulham will be far from goal shy this term. Despite the impressive partnership of Tomas Kalas and Michael Madl, Jokanović also added Ragnar Sigurdsson to the ranks. The former Krasnodar defender will be familiar with English football fans after scoring the equaliser for Iceland as his side knocked out Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions at Euro 2016. Sigurdsson’s passion and physical presence will provide Jokanović with another option at the heart of the defence. But, with Kalas’ ability to operate at right-back, there’s no reason why all three can’t feature.
The beauty of this summer’s transfer window is that there’s big competition in every position, and Fulham will have the flexibility to change the system and try new things should they need to. While Fulham have managed a strong start to the campaign, there’s still plenty more work to do. With the resources available, and hopefully a packed Craven Cottage, there’s no reason why the Whites can’t continue their unbeaten streak today. Now that Jokanović has the players he wants in his side, it’s clear to see that Fulham are getting their identity on the pitch back again. The future is bright.
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