Andrew Beck from our chums at Cottagers Confidential returns to give us his thoughts on Friday's game between Reading and Fulham.
OK, so you gave us an absolute beating at Craven Cottage, for you was it Fulham being that good, or Reading being that bad?
That was one of the better performances Fulham have had. They've had many games like that where the ball just didn't go in the net. Against Reading they finished the chances you would have expected them to. I think it's probably a bad strategy for almost any team in this division to try to play a possession style game against Fulham, save for Newcastle. Fulham will be able to take the ball from you and keep it, and leaving yourself wide open is going to let Fulham create a lot of chances.
You've followed up that win with some high scoring games but have dropped points against Wolves and Derby. Are you confident you're on the right track or is there still work to be done?
There is one flaw in Slavisa Jokanovic's system. It depends on having at least one CB, preferably two who are comfortable playing the ball out of the back. Fulham have one in Tomas Kalas. The other, Tim Ream isn't a great defender. When he's the lone CB who can do it (due to rotation or injury to Kalas) things can go sideways for Fulham in a hurry. His limitations in defense seem to cascade through the squad. When the best XI is available, I'm not that worried. Against Wolves, Fulham had a bad 20 minutes. They were punished more in that 20 minutes than you would expect. It happens. Against Derby, the team was actually much better. Derby only managed 7 shots total and only two were on target. If you hold a team to that every time (especially when you have 18 shots) you'll win more times than you'll lose. Given that our top (only real) striker didn't play, it doesn't bother me that much.
Do you expect to be busy in January?
As we talked about with Ream, Fulham could really use another ball playing CB. There's also some question as to whether or not David Button is the answer in goal. The midfield is pretty much set. I don't expect to see a lot of midfielders come in. Fulham probably need another striker, so I'd expect some movement there. What you may see is a lot of players going out, whether on loan, or permanently. Marcus Bettinelli has been rumoured to be leaving on loan (and I can only think this happens if a new first team keeper comes in). Cauley Woodrow is rumoured to be out. Matt Smith will probably be leaving. Players like Lasse Vigen Christensen and Ryan Tunnicliffe might also be leaving the club.
What did you make of the Garry Monk v Jaap Stam 'style of football' row?
I much prefer the Jaap Stam style. Our own coach seems to prefer this style as well. However, I'm not sure trying to play that style against Fulham is a good idea. Fulham have only been out possessed once on the season and have never completed less than 75% of their passes. The way to frustrate them is to let them ping the ball around the midfield and force them to attack wide and send in crosses. Then when the fullbacks are committed to attack try to hit them with a quick counter.
How do you see this one going?
I think Fulham are a poor matchup for you, and I think Fulham win again. This time 3-1.