Much has been made of Fulham’s defensive woes as of late, the West London outfit have lost their last four Premier League outings while conceding an eye watering 15 goals in the process and if that didn’t make for bad enough reading then you only have to look at their record for the season so far.
Slavisa Jokanovic’s men have conceded a staggering 28 goals in just 10 matches, a tally that means on average they are shipping 2.8 goals against per game. Is that down to defensive naivety after promotion from the Championship last season, that arguably makes up part of the reason.
At the same time though part of the reason for their frailties at the back could well be down to the fact that Fulham cannot seem to find a settled back four while at the same time it seems as if the Cottagers cannot find the winning formula in terms of on pitch personnel.
You only have to look at the amount of lineup changes that the Fulham manager has made already this season, a figure that stands at 27. With 9 matches played since the opening weekend of the campaign this means that there have been three changes per game.
Not only that but if Fulham have conceded the most goals in the English top flight then they have also made the most changes in a bid to stop this happening, those 27 changes are three more than that of Newcastle and the Manchester duo.
The question that needs to be asked is are the changes being made because of the negative results or are the changes actually causing them. Would the same back four have more of a change of getting out of a rut than opposed to one that chops and changes each week.
Let’s take a look at the defensive units that have been named over the past four weeks:
Odoi, Ream, Bryam, Fosu-Mensah
Odoi, Le Marchant, Ream, Christie
Odoi, Le Marchant, Ream, Chambers
Odoi, Le Marchant, Ream, Fosu-Mensah
As you can see in each fixture there has been one change in personnel as Slavisa Jokanovic looks to find the back four that will get him out of trouble. a magic combination he has yet to stumble on. At some point though he will have to crack this code especially if results continue to go against him.
I guess the same kind of questions can be asked of Newcastle who are also languishing in the bottom three also, the fact that they have made 24 lineup changes suggests that Rafael Benitez is desperately tweaking his side in a bid to earn that first Premier League win of the season.
But what can be said about cohesion, could Fulham be served better if they stuck to the same team more often than not, so that players than gain belief through familiarity. It might be something that we see now that Alfie Mawson is approaching full fitness once more.
There is no doubting that the former Swansea defender has been a huge absence for Fulham in these last few weeks and his return to the first eleven will undoubtedly be welcomed by everyone connected with the club, especially if he can help stem the tide that the Cottagers are struggling to stay afloat in.
When you look at who Fulham have bought over the course of the Summer then there is no doubting that they do have some real quality especially in the final third. However for all their talents and endeavour it is being let down by some haphazard defending.
The goals could well keep Fulham up, their defence at the moment will send them down. We will have to see which end of the pitch comes out on top this weekend when they play Huddersfield next Monday night in what is undoubtedly a six pointer even at this early stage.
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