It’s not very often you can win 5-0 in one of the most competitive leagues in the world and get almost no recognition of your achievement, but it’s happened to Fulham this Saturday. Sitting joint top of the Premier League after the opening weekend, the action at Craven Cottage has been largely ignored, overshadowed by the antics of Swansea and West Brom this weekend. Even the drama surrounding Clint Dempsey’s refusal to play for the Cottagers has been more of a headline grabber than a 5-0 demolishing of the Canaries. Whilst the eyes of the footballing world are elsewhere, Martin Jol has slowly been putting together a well balanced side capable of shocking the Premier League this season.
What impressed most about the west Londoners was the nature of the victory. Any 5-0 win obviously shows an outstanding performance, but the variety in the goals were on show — everything from the magnificent cross pitch through-balls of John Arne Riise, to the tight knit football around the edge of the area allowing Alexander Kacaniklic to score and Hugo Rodallega to win a penalty, to scoring from corners and long range efforts as Mladen Petric did for his goals respectively shows a real well roundedness in the side. Perhaps Fulham’s ability on Saturday to create goals from a number of different methods is more productive and, ultimately, better for the team.
A lack of goals was predicted as a problem for Fulham this season with the imminent departure of Texan Clint Dempsey, who bagged 17 goals for Jol’s side last season alongside Russian target man Pavel Pogrebnyak’s move to Reading. However, once more Fulham and Jol should be praised by more than adequately replacing his front line with the speedy acquisitions of Petric and Rodallega. The former is a player with a wealth of Bundesliga and international experience and the latter an exciting talent with plenty of Premier League experience. As well as potentially holding on to Moussa Dembele, after reported interest from Manchester United and Real Madrid this summer, Jol looks set to be building a side with the necessary experience to succeed; and combining this with exciting youth prospects and players with massive technical ability to create one of the most exciting Fulham sides since their promotion in 2001.
Last season, Fulham kicked off their competitive season in the Europa League in June, over two months before the rest of the Premier League teams had to kick off their campaigns. This extended season hampered Fulham’s efforts in the Premier League, only winning two matches in the league before December in the 2011/12 campaign. Without the distraction of countless Europa League qualifiers throughout the summer, perhaps we may be able to see a Fulham who can continue their inspiring form of late last season. Perhaps we will truly see the fruits of Martin Jol’s labors, and perhaps the 5-0 victory over Norwich is just the start of an exciting campaign for Fulham?
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