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Fantastic Fulham continue to surprise

Fulham have been the surprise package of the Premier League season so far, sitting on the shoulders of the top six and a whopping nine points above the relegation zone. In each of the past three years in which Fulham have been a part of the top-flight, they have slipped back down to the Championship. But this campaign they seem set to buck the trend. So what has Marco Silva done that has got Fulham looking up the table, rather than down it?


Magnificent Mitrovic firing for Fulham

The key reason behind Fulham’s rise has been the form of star striker Aleksandr Mitrovic. The Serbian hit a sensational 43 goals to fire Fulham to promotion last term and, while he was never going to be quite that prolific in the higher division, Mitrovic has maintained that momentum.

Fulham have taken seven points from their last three Premier League games and Mitrovic has found the net in each of those matches. His tally for the campaign so far stands at nine, which places him third in the race for the Golden Boot, behind only Harry Kane and Erling Haaland.

Mitrovic has scored the opening goal of the game five times this season, crucial in helping Fulham to take the lead and avoid falling behind in matches. And he has been able to curb his infamous aggression to a degree, being shown only three yellow cards in the Premier League.

The 28-year-old is in the form of his life and finally seems to have cracked the step up. Mitrovic struggled badly playing in the Premier League two years ago, scoring only three times in his 27 appearances, while back in 2018-19 he chipped in with 11 goals from his 37 top-flight games.


Smart signings contribute

Mitrovic is the main man for Fulham but he is far from the team’s only star. Having been burned by expensive additions in the past, Fulham were more circumspect in the transfer market over the summer but a number of their new additions have bedded in extremely well straight away.

Joao Palhinha seemed like the most exciting of the new faces brought in by Silva and the Portugal midfielder looks right at home in the Premier League. Another player to be thriving in midfield for the Cottagers is Andreas Pereira, who cost around £10 million to bring in from Manchester United, with the Brazilian racking up five goal involvements in 12 games so far.

Bernd Leno has also been a significant upgrade in goal. The German goalkeeper has a lot to prove after losing his place at Arsenal, while another ex-Gunner, Willian, has added plenty more Premier League experience after he was snapped up on a free transfer. Willian scored his first goal for the club in a 3-2 win at Leeds United last time out and he has provided extra quality.


Bucking the trend

Naivety was perhaps the defining trait for Fulham in their last few seasons in the Premier League, but Silva has imbued his team with surprising steel this time out.

Fulham are not grinding out results, though. Only once have they failed to find the net in the Premier League this season – that was an August goalless draw at Wolves in which Mitrovic missed a late penalty – while they are more open at the back than their manager would prefer.

That Fulham have conceded 15 times in their last seven Premier League games shows that there is still a lot to work on at the back, but the club’s fans will be thrilled with the entertainment on offer. It has not all been smooth sailing, though. A 4-1 loss at home to Newcastle was a low note in an enjoyable season, with Nathaniel Chalobah’s red card leaving his team up against it.

Goals from Callum Wilson, Sean Longstaff and a Miguel Almiron double led to fears that Fulham would again be on the end of some heavy losses, especially as they followed that home defeat up by immediately going down 3-1 away to West Ham in their next game. Recovery has been swift, though, and the Londoners are well on track to secure survival by the end of the season.

Fulham only won five Premier League games as they limped to relegation from the top-flight two years ago. They have already matched that tally this time out, however, suggesting that Silva’s side could be in line to break that sad run of three successive Premier League relegations.

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