Fulham’s opening-day 3-0 home defeat by Arsenal was as comprehensive as it sounds.
Scott Parker stuck with the side that did so well for him in the Championship, but as the Whites boss warned, there is a Grand Canyon of difference between it and the Premier League.
What did we learn that about this Fulham side?
First, the warning signs…
Fulham need another central defender
Boy! Do they ever.
Fans reckoned the defence was the weak link last year.
And despite decent showings from Michael Hector, those in white can point their finger at him for the second goal, and at Tim Ream for the first.
Parker knows he’s short in that department, and needs quality rather than willingness.
Passengers: you can’t afford them in the Premier League
Assume encouraging words therefore headed the way of Josh Omonah and Ivan Cavaleiro – and to some extent Tom Cairney.
There are those with supporting roles, and those who walk on stage carrying a spear and exit just as quickly.
These three were very much the latter.
Onomah needs to go and fetch the ball if it isn’t coming to him, and Cavaleiro needs to gain that extra 10% of confidence to really drive at defences.
Parker said captain Cairney had something to prove this time in the top flight. He’d better start proving starting with the away game at Leeds next Saturday.
Finesse of passes in the final third from Arsenal
Arsenal can really hurt you with a back heel or a first-time effort like the one from Xhaka that led to the opening goal.
There’s no doubt Fulham are willing, but do they have craft or guile?
Abou Kamara is not that type of player.
Yes, he’s raw speed and muscle, but bashing down a rock of a defence that was the Gunners needs a bit more than a battering ram.
On the plus side…
Fulham know a thing or two about dangerous crosses
They have the players in the likes of Denis Odoi and Joe Bryan to put the ball in the right areas, as Arsenal discovered.
Fulham just needed bodies on the end of them.
And that free flowing passing move on seven minutes is worth a second look.
It ended up with Odoi testing Bernd Leno; the closest Fulham got to a goal all afternoon.
They kept going even with backs to the wall
There was never a lack of shape about Fulham, even at 3-0 down.
The passing game that is meat and drink to Parker’s men was there until the end, and they’ll need it if they’re to survive.
They have others waiting in the wings
Mario Lemina, Kenny Tete, Olna Aina and Alphonse Areola all saw their chances of making a debut sooner rather than later improve.
Assume Parker will also step up attempts to bring others in as well.
The side that succumbed to Arsenal is nowhere good enough.