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Let’s Talk About…Fulham



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Last weekend, Swansea secured their first home league win under Russell Martin. Joel Piroe’s strike after some excellent build-up play gave Swansea a 1-0 win over Huddersfield. This was also their third consecutive home clean sheet.

Up next for the Swans is a trip to Fulham. The west-London club were relegated from the Premier League last season, a year after they were promoted via the playoffs. They come into Wednesday’s game on a run of one win in four games. They kicked off their season with a draw at home to Middlesbrough, before securing four successive wins over Huddersfield, Millwall, Hull City and Stoke City. Following the international break in September, Fulham were stunned at Blackpool, losing 1-0 to the newly promoted side. They followed that up with a 4-1 win at Birmingham, before a surprise 2-1 defeat at home to Reading. Last weekend, they dropped two more points, drawing 1-1 at Bristol City. This saw Fulham drop out of the automatic promotion places.

Their transfer window

First team arrivals

After a quiet start to the window, Fulham completed two first-team signings in one day.

First, they confirmed the acquisition of Paulo Gazzaniga from Tottenham. The 29-year-old Argentinian goalkeeper joined Spurs in 2017 but spent most of his time as their backup keeper. However, when Hugo Lloris suffered an elbow injury in 2019, Gazzaniga became temporary first-choice, making 18 Premier League appearances in 2019-20. He spent last season on loan at Elche, where he played 8 La Liga games. Gazzaniga has started all nine of Fulham’s Championship games since his arrival.

They simultaneously announced the signing of Harry Wilson from Liverpool. The Wales international joined for a fee of £12 million after enjoying five loan spells while at the Merseyside club. He spent last season on loan at Cardiff City, where he scored seven and assisted 12 in 37 appearances. Since his arrival, Wilson has three goals and three assists in six games.

Around a month after the Wilson and Gazzaniga moves, Fulham completed their third signing of the summer, bringing in Rodrigo Muniz from Flamengo. The 20-year-old Brazilian forward joined for an estimated £7.2 million. Muniz has made two substitute appearances, scoring in their 2-1 defeat to Reading earlier this month.

Their fourth and final permanent signing saw Nathaniel Chalobah join on a free transfer. The 26-year-old midfielder joined after leaving Watford, reuniting with a former manager in the process. So far, Chalobah has started in three games, registering two assists.

Adding to their four permanent signings, Fulham completed the loan signing of Domingos Quina from Watford. The 21-year-old midfielder has represented Portugal at Under-17 to Under-21 level. He joined Watford from West Ham United in 2018 but has struggled to find regular football. joined Granada on loan in February, where he made eight La Liga appearances.

First team departures

Following the expiration of his contract, goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli made the short move to Chelsea. The 29-year-old first arrived at Fulham as a teenager in 2006. He went on to make 103 league appearances for the club, including seven in the Premier League in 2018-19.

32-year-old Scotland international Kevin McDonald departed the club after five years at Craven Cottage. McDonald made 116 league appearances for Fulham after joining from Wolves in 2016. He remains without a club.

On the same day that Fulham announced the Wilson and Gazzaniga signings, they also confirmed the sale of Stefan Johansen. The Norwegian midfielder joined fellow Championship side Queens Park Rangers for a fee of £600,000. Johansen enjoyed a successful loan spell at QPR in January, featuring in 21 league games.

Mauritania international Aboubakar Kamara also completed a move away from The Cottagers, joining Aris Thessaloniki for an estimated £3.15 million. Kamara scored 14 goals in 85 league games for Fulham, including three in 13 Premier League outings in 2018-19.

After a three-year spell at the club, Maxime Le Marchand returned to his native France in August, joining Strasbourg. He joined Fulham from Nice in 2018 for £3.6 million, making 26 Premier League appearances in his debut season. His game-time was limited after that; he was loaned out to Royal Antwerp last season.

Five players left the club on loan over the summer, although Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is the only first-team departure. He joined Fulham from Marseille in 2018 for a club-record fee of £22.8 million but failed to deliver in his first season at the club. He was then loaned to Villarreal following Fulham’s relegation but returned to the first-team last season after they were promoted. The Cameroon international joined Napoli on deadline day.

Also departing on loan were Timmy Abraham (Newport County), Jerome Opoku (Vejle), Sylvester Jasper (Colchester United) and George Wickens (Wealdstone).

Their captain

Since joining the club from Blackburn in 2015, Tom Cairney has become a club legend at Fulham. The 30-year-old midfielder has made almost 200 league appearances for the club.

He began his senior career at Hull City, after coming through the ranks at Leeds United. He was named as Hull’s Young Player of the Year in 2008-09, which earnt him a new deal.

He scored his first goal on his senior debut, against Southend United in the League Cup in 2009. He made his Premier League debut later that season. His first Premier League goal came in March 2010, albeit in a 5-1 defeat to Everton.

In August 2013, Cairney joined Blackburn Rovers on loan. The deal was made permanent in January 2014, following a successful loan spell. Cairney remained a regular in the team for the succeeding 18 months, before departing the club in June 2015 to join Fulham for a fee of £3 million.

Cairney played in 39 Championship games in his debut season, scoring eight goals. He followed that up by scoring 12 in 45 league games in 2016-17.

Ahead of the 2017-18 season, he was officially named captain. In his first season with the armband, he led Fulham back to the Premier League after a four-year absence. However, the club were relegated back to the Championship at the first time of asking, along with Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City. Despite Fulham’s spending, they finished 19th with 26 points.

In 2019-20, Cairney guided Fulham back to the Premier League via the playoffs. He scored eight league goals as they beat Brentford at Wembley.

He made just 10 Premier League appearances last season, after suffering a serious knee injury in December. He is yet to feature since, although he has recently returned to the training pitch. However, he is still considered to be some way off full fitness.

Their manager

Following Scott Parker’s summer departure, recently relegated Fulham confirmed the appointment of Marco Silva. The 44-year-old manager spent his entire playing career in his native Portugal.

He started his career at Belenenses, before a brief spell at Atletico Clube de Portugal. He then moved to Trofense, before a loan spell at Campomaiorense. In 2001, he joined Rio Ave, but departed a year later to join Braga’s B-team. He followed that with moves to Salgueiros and Odivelas, before completing a move to Estoril in 2005.

He remained at Estoril for the remainder of his career, playing 121 league games in a six-year spell. Immediately after retiring, he became Director of Football at Estoril. However, he became their manager soon after.

Despite the team being tenth when he took over, a run of just three defeats in 24 matches saw Estoril achieve promotion to the Portuguese top flight as champions. Silva was voted Manager of the Year in his debut season in management.

In their first season back in the top division, Estoril once again enjoyed a successful season, finishing fifth and securing Europa League qualification. He departed the club in May 2014 after they finished fourth.

He joined Sporting CP, replacing the outgoing Leonardo Jardim. In his first season at the club, Sporting finished third, while also winning the Portuguese Cup. They beat Braga 3-1 on penalties in the final.  However, Silva was dismissed by the club four days later in bizarre fashion. The reasoning included Silva’s failure to wear an official Sporting suit for a league game.

A month after his departure from the Portuguese club, Silva returned to management, taking the Olympiacos job. He won the Greek top-flight title in what would prove to be his only season at the club, as he departed in June 2016.

He remained without a job until January 2017, when he received his first taste of English football. He took over at Hull City, who were bottom of the Premier League when he arrived. Despite a strong start, Silva was unable to steer Hull to safety. He resigned on 25th May 2017.

Despite Hull’s relegation, Silva made an immediate return to the Premier League just two days later. He took over at Watford. After an impressive start to the season, he was targeted by Everton in November. This unrest led to a period of poor results, which saw Silva lose his job in January 2018.

It would take more than four months for Silva to take the Everton job. He joined the club at the end of the season, replacing Sam Allardyce. Everton finished eighth in his first season, three points behind Wolves, who qualified for the Europa League.

After a poor start to the 2019-20 season, Everton sacked Silva in December. The club were 18th with 14 points from 15 games. He would remain without a job until 1st July 2021, when he took the Fulham post.

Since his arrival, Fulham have won five, drawn two and lost two of their opening nine Championship games. They also reached the Third Round of the EFL Cup, losing to Leeds United on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Previous meetings with Fulham

Swansea enjoyed great success against Fulham during their mutual spell in the Premier League, winning five out of six meetings with the London club. After Fulham’s relegation in 2014, the clubs did not meet until the 2019-20 season, during Steve Cooper’s first year in charge.

29th November 2019 (H)

Swansea welcomed Fulham to South Wales in November, with both sides sat in the playoff places after strong starts.

Fulham took the lead in the 22nd minute through Alexsandar Mitrovic. The Serbian forward doubled their advantage shortly before half-time.

George Byers gave Swansea hope with 25 minutes to go, but the visitors held on to take all three points back to West London.

Full time – Swansea City 1-2 Fulham

 26th February 2020 (A)

Less than three months after their previous meeting, Swansea travelled to Fulham looking to close the gap on the top six.

The Swans battled hard and were denied a penalty when Andre Ayew was tripped in the box.

Instead, it was Fulham who were awarded a penalty with just two minutes to go, when Connor Roberts collided with Neeskens Kebano. Up stepped Mitrovic, whose spot-kick was heroically saved by Freddie Woodman.

However, deep into injury time, Mitrovic headed home to cruelly deny Swansea a point.

Full time – Fulham 1-0 Swansea City

Match Preview

After securing their first home win, the Swans will be eager to upset Fulham by securing back-to-back wins. Fulham have failed to win either of their previous two games, which has seen them drop outside the automatic promotion places.

Flynn Downes continues to impress in a Swansea shirt, while the defence secured their third successive home clean sheet. Michael Obafemi looks likely to miss out once again, which could see Liam Cullen return to the starting XI, should Martin choose to rotate.

Alexsandar Mitrovic has scored seven Championship goals already this season, only one fewer than the entire Swansea team. The Serbian forward struggled in the Premier League last season but has hit the ground running since Fulham’s relegation. He scored three goals in the last two meetings with Swansea.

Swansea will likely face multiple ex-Cardiff players, with Harry Wilson and Bobby Decordova-Reid both regularly featuring for the hosts. Reid joined the club from Cardiff in 2019, initially on loan, while Wilson spent last season at the Welsh club.

On paper, this is one of the toughest games of the season for Swansea, with the hosts boasting a wealth of talent. Fulham currently lead the league in goals scored, while their eight conceded is also one of the lowest. a win could see them rise to second if results go their way. Meanwhile, Swansea sit just three points behind seventh-place Huddersfield prior to Tuesday night’s games, while they are also five points above the relegation zone.

After the trip to Fulham, Swansea travel to 24th-place Derby County on Saturday. Wayne Rooney’s side have also picked up ten points, but the 12-point deduction means they currently find themselves on -2 points.


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Matt Williamshttps://mjwwrites.wordpress.com/
My name is Matt Williams. I am a 24-year-old journalism graduate and aspiring sports journalist from South Wales. I am a fan of Swansea City, and regularly write about the team on my own personal blog. I also support the Carolina Panthers, and I am an avid follower of the Welsh national teams in football and rugby.

Swansea City v Hull City, EFL Championship



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