Being a Fulham fan I’m delighted to see us back in the Premier League. The squad had looked a little thin with the team having used the loan system to full advantage in their pursuit of promotion. After the double signing of Jean Seri and Maxime Le Marchand from Nice, Fulham have followed that up with the addition of Fabri from Besiktas. Then came the loan signing of Andre Schurrle and the return of Mitrovic on a permanent transfer. Alfie Mawson is the latest to come in. It looks like Fulham are prioritising a left back so expect at least one more transfer to be done in the coming days. I’ll give an insight into the style of play the manager likes to play and as things stand a run through the players, the positions they play and if they will be of use from an FPL perspective.
Slavisa Jokanovic has moulded his team over the last two seasons to play a passing style of football. Fulham played possession-based football in the championship and finished the season with an average possession of 57.8%. They completed the most passes in the Championship (24857) and also had the highest passing accuracy (83.1%). Jokanovic set his Fulham side up in a 4-3-3 formation with a holding midfielder often sitting back with the central defenders allowing for the fullbacks to push on. There was no plan B to Fulham’s game and they continued with the same style of play. This style of play seemed to work really well against teams who came out to attack and we’re often caught on the counter-attack or with a ball in behind the defence. On occasions, Fulham struggled to break teams down who had little intent to attack and set themselves up to defend for most of the game. Fulham were weak at defending set pieces but this improved as the season went on. Fulham play the ball out from the back and on occasions, a sloppy pass has gotten them into trouble. Jokanovic has indicated that there won’t be a change in his philosophy, so it will be interesting to see if Fulham can continue to implement their passing style in the Premier League.
The Fulham Squad
Marcus Bettinelli £4.5m – A fan favourite at Fulham, Bettinelli reclaimed the first choice keeper spot midway through the season to complete 29 appearances and his performances justified the decision from the manager. He made 12 clean sheets in those 29 appearances conceding 0.73 goals per 90 mins, the best of any goalkeeper who made 15 appearances or more. He also saved 75% of shots on target which was the second best only behind Aston Villa’s Sam Johnstone (77%). Fulham like to play the ball out from the back meaning Bettinelli averaged 27.9 passes per game. This could come in handy as passes are awarded in the bonus points system. One to consider along with the many other £4.5m Goalies
Fabricio Agosto Ramirez £4.5m – David Button has since departed to Brighton and it’s expected that Fabri will arrive from Besiktas to provide competition with Bettinelli. It may even be the case that Fabri will go straight in as first choice keeper therefore it’s probably an area to avoid if you were looking to Fulham to fill one of your £4.5m keepers. Fabri arrives with Champions League experience. He kept 12 clean sheets in 34 appearances for Besiktas last season conceding 30 goals.
Tim Ream £4.5m – Ream was considered by many not to be part of the starting 11 but through a string of commanding performances established himself as the first choice centre back. He has gained cult status and was voted the fans player of the season. He made an average of 6.1 clearances per game, 1.2 interceptions and 0.7 blocks. He also had a high passing accuracy of 88.3% and has previous Premier League experience with Bolton during the 2011/12 season in which they were relegated. Ream will be one of the first names on the team sheet, however, his lack of a goal or assist threat would lead me to look for other players in that price bracket.
Denis Odoi £4.5m – Odoi is a versatile defender who can play CB or at either right or left back. With the arrival of Marchand, I would imagine Odoi will be ousted from CB where he finished the season. Despite having only 5 defenders in FPL at present, I would avoid Odoi as he is too much of a rotation risk.
Maxime Le Marchand £4.5m – Le Marchand arrives along with Seri from Nice this month. He can play both CB and LB. He could compete for a spot at the heart of the Fulham defence or slot in at left back should Fulham fail to sign Matt Targett or a replacement. He is a strong passer of the ball which suits Fulham’s style of play. He hasn’t much of a goal scoring pedigree and as a new signing is an unknown to English football.
Cyrus Christie £4.5m – Cyrus Christie arrived from Middlesbrough in the January transfer window as a backup for Ryan Fredericks who moved to West Ham on a free transfer. Christie made only one start and 5 appearances for Fulham but showed glimpses of what he can do in that short space of time setting up Mitrovic for a goal with a delightful pass which cut through the defence. He has finally been added to the game and comes in at the same price as the rest of the Fulham defenders. With a full pre-season behind him he should take over the Fredericks role and if he can replicate Fredericks’ form he will be worth a look as Fulham like to utilise their full backs going forward.
Alfie Mawson £5.0 – Alfie Mawson is a much welcome addition to the Fulham defence. He impressed during his 2 seasons in the Premier League despite suffering relegation with Swansea last season. Mawson Managed 9 clean sheets in 34 games last season for a relegated Swansea side. He also popped up with 2 goals and an assist. He was more prolific the season before managing 4 goals in 27 appearances for Swansea. Fulham aren’t renowned for scoring from set pieces but Mawson could be a target man this season. He seems to fit the mould as a ball playing centre back. I’d imagine he will be one of the first choice CB’s this season however he Has recovering from a knee injury so might not begin the season.
Kevin McDonald £4.5m – McDonald played as part of a midfield trio along with Johansen and Cairney for Fulham. He plays an important role in the team as the holding midfielder who sits just in front of the central defence. He did score 3 goals and provided an assist last season but in reality, he’s not an option from an FPL point of view as he won’t get many points other than for appearances.
Stefan Johansen £5.5m – Johansen is a box to box midfielder who also takes set pieces. He scored 8 goals and 9 assists last season but he played in behind the striker at times during the first half of the season. He did pick up 12 yellow cards and has taken out the opposing player to stop a break on numerous occasions. It is thought that new signing Seri will play in Johansen’s position. The threat of not starting and his ill-discipline would lead me to look elsewhere for better value at £5.5m
Tom Cairney £5.0m – Cairney is central to everything that Fulham do. He dictates the pace of the game and can cut a defence open with his passing vision. He managed 6 goals and 5 assists last season but those stats don’t tell the full story. Missing for the early part of the season with a knee injury and although he played in some games it wasn’t until December until he was fully fit at which point Fulham began to kick into gear and launch themselves up the table in a bid for promotion. The season before Cairney recorded 13 goals and 10 assists. His passing and ball retention is superb. He is the only player to have completed over 3000 passes in the Championship. He managed this feat twice in the last 2 seasons with a passing accuracy of 91.5% and 92.5%. He was also had the best dribble success rate in the Championchip last season (83.3%). At this price, I think Cairney offers tremendous value and could be utilised as a 5th midfielder.
Jean Michael Seri £5.5m – Last time they were promoted they signed Edwin Van Der Saar. This time Fulham pulled off a major coup with their first signing of the summer transfer window in the form of Jean Michael Seri. Seri seems like he suits Fulham’s style of play down to the ground. He completed the most passes in Ligue 1 over the past 2 seasons so playing alongside Cairney in midfield should help Fulham continue their passing style. He had somewhat of a dip in form last season with Nice, scoring 2 goals and providing a further 5 assists. For that kind of return, I would be looking elsewhere for £5.5m.
Floyd Ayite £4.5m – Ayite competed for the right wing forward position last season along with Lucas Piazon, Sheyi Ojo and Aboubakar Kamara. Ayite started 24 games last season but wasn’t as prolific as the year before. He managed 4 goals and 2 assists and eventually Piazon took over for a run of games on the right-hand side. Kamara, however, was the one the manager gave the starting spot to towards the end of the season. This right wing position seems to be very much up for grabs should Fulham not make a splash in the market then one of these £4.5m options could be worth monitoring. For now though I wouldn’t take the risk until we have more information.
Neeskens Kebano £4.5m – The Majority of Kebano’s appearances in the past two seasons have been as a substitute. He plays mostly on the left for Fulham and while he began the season on the left he was second fiddle to Ryan Sessegnon once he made the move from left back to left wing forward. Sessegnon started all but one game for Fulham last season so it looks like Kebano won’t feature heavily. Despite looking lively in pre-season I think he will only be a squad player and one to avoid.
Rui Fonte £4.5m – Rui Fonte is the brother of Jose Fonte who played at Southampton and West Ham. He’s an interesting player from an FPL point of view in that he’s a striker listed as a midfielder…a £4.5m midfielder. The return of Mitrovic moves him down the pecking order. He didn’t manage too many starts last season and was often played wide right/left out of position. He scored 3 goals and 2 assists and also blazed a penalty over the bar. Needs to be playing regularly to be considered an FPL option.
Ryan Sessegnon £6.5m – Last season’s Championship player and young player of the season has been classified as a midfielder and I think we were only kidding ourselves if we thought he would come in as a defender. He did begin the season at left back but was given licence to play left wing forward when Denis Odoi took over at left back for a few games. He became the first 17-year-old since Dele Alli to score a hat-trick in the top 4 divisions of English Football in the Sheffield United game in November. It wasn’t until the acquisition of Matt Targett in the January transfer window that we would see ‘Sess’ play permanently in a more advanced role. He had a phenomenal season scoring 16 goals and 8 assists in 48 starts. For an 18-year-old his ability to read the game is amazing. He drifts into pockets of space and often pops up on the far post or is the first to be on the end of a rebound. It seemed at times that he was always in the right place at the right time to come up with the goods. Even at £6.5m I still expect Sessegnon to be an option BUT Fulham still need that left back to allow him to play an attacking role.
Andre Schurrle £6.0m – Most people will be familiar with Schurrle from his time at Chelsea. Despite playing a key role in Germany’s World Cup winning success in 2014 the last few years haven’t been great for Schurrle. He saw limited minutes at Dortmund with Marco Reus and Ousmane Dembele ahead of him. He managed 3 goals and 6 assists in 19 starts which isn’t a great return. Many are wondering where he will fit into this Fulham team. Despite playing much of his career on the left it is believed that Schurrle will operate on the right wing, a position that Fulham never had a regular starter for last season. He is Right footed so it would make sense. The other option may be that He plays on the left and Sessegnon switches to the right which would see Fulham play with inverted wingers. I wouldn’t be getting too excited given his recent form but there is potential there as a good FPL option. Definitely a wait and see.
Aboubakar Kamara £4.5m – As mentioned above Kamara played last season on the right of a front 3 for Fulham or was introduced as a second striker when we were chasing the game. With 10 starts and 22 sub appearances, Kamara managed 7 goals and an assist in his 1362 minutes of pitch time. Discipline may be a worry for fantasy managers with 7 yellows and a red card to his name. He’s got a Lukaku-esque frame and when he picks up speed looks like he can be a handful for defenders. At the same time, it often appears that he doesn’t actually know what he’s doing with the ball. Kamara at this point in time may be the one who gets the nod on the right and as a £4.5m might be a decent bench fodder option. If Fulham buy then I’d say he’s no longer an option. He is classified as a striker in FPL which I was a little bit surprised about. One to monitor if you are looking for a cheap option in the third striker position. Kamara scored one of 5 penalties last season. Oliver Norwood back at Brighton after his loan deal scored 3 and the other was missed by Fonte. I don’t think Kamara will be on spot kicks
Alexander Mitrovic £6.5m – He has finally returned on a permanent deal and it looks as though he’s as happy as the Fulham fans are. Despite a less than impressive spell at Newcastle where he lost the plot more often than he found the net he has been on fire of late. Still only 23, Mitrovic has scored 24 goals in his last 26 games for Fulham and Serbia. After a few 60 minute games in the Championship Mitrovic eventually gained fitness and fitted seamlessly into place. Jokanovic seemed to get the best out of him last year, gone was the hot-headed Mitrovic we had seen in the Premier League and as well as scoring he was also putting in a shift for the team. I think Mitrovic just didn’t suit Newcastle’s style of play and he plugs a massive hole that Fulham have been looking to fill since we sold McCormack and Dembele. I think he will hit double figures this season and if not from the start I will be looking to draft him in at some stage this season.
Overall, I see some decent options among the Fulham squad but with the new signings there are question marks over some positions especially at the back. For now though I like the look of Cairney, Sessegnon and Mitrovic who will all be nailed. It would definitely be a better idea to look at Fulham’s attacking options seeing as they were such an attacking team last season. Who will be on penalties is not clear at the moment because Oliver Norwood took them last year and we didn’t get a penalty in the latter half of the season when Mitrovic was on the pitch so it’s definitely one to keep an eye out for.
This is what I think the strongest Fulham team line up will be for the season:
Fabri, Christie, Ream, Mawson, New Left-Back TBC, McDonald, Seri, Cairney, Schurrle, Sessegnon, Mitrovic