Fulham on the Brink of Europe – Can they Qualify?

Fulham boss, Marco Silva, has refused to alter his side’s season expectations after an impressive opening half of the campaign. The Cottagers are within touching distance of a European spot but have a lot of work to do if they are to fight off the competition for a place among the European elite.

From Tottenham to mid-table Chelsea, there are probably seven teams that fancy their chances of making a late run at European football. Spurs have world-class talent, Newcastle is impenetrable at the back and Liverpool is having a domestic resurgence.

Who’s to say Fulham can’t hold their own? Keeping the likes of Tim Ream, Joao Palhinha, and Andreas Pereira fit will be important, but not as important as providing quality service to their number nine.

Mitrovic’s Wilting Form a Concern

Despite his incredible pre-World Cup performances, Fulham’s key man, Aleksandar Mitrovic, is amidst a lull in form. Throughout the first half of the season, the Serbian striker was consistently a bet in play football favourite to score the next goal.

On four occasions already this season, if you had waited until half-time to place an in-play bet on Mitrovic to score next, you would have had a winning bet. In-play odds are always generous as a result of the unpredictability of football, so it’s worth keeping an eye on in-form strikers to score the next goal. 

However, his lack of goals since the restart has seen his odds to finish as the Premier League top scorer skyrocket to 66/1. Should Mitrovic fail to find his shooting boots in the coming games, Fulham could find themselves slipping rapidly down the table.

A lack of goals won’t be the only concern for Marco Silva. Mitrovic has already suffered a handful of injuries this season and he is sorely missed when absent from the attack. Fulham’s second-most prolific Premier League scorer is Bobby Decordova-Reid, who has managed just four goals in 23 appearances.

It’s not just goals that the big man brings. Mitrovic’s 4.63 aerial duels won per 90 minutes ranks him in the top 10% in the division. He also features in the top third for blocks and clearances made. He is dominant in both boxes, links midfield to attack, and provides an aerial outlet when Fulham come under pressure. Keeping Mitrovic fit and firing will be pivotal in Fulham’s charge toward European football.

Fulham’s Remaining Fixtures

Marco Silva’s side will have to navigate a tough run of fixtures in the coming weeks. A three-match run of Brentford (A), Arsenal (H) and Liverpool (A) could provide minimal points.

However, the Whites then have a favourable run of five games, where they take on Bournemouth (A), West Ham (H), Everton (A), Leeds (H) and Aston Villa (A).

If Fulham is still in the European conversation come the last day of the season, a trip to Old Trafford awaits. Manchester United could well be fighting at the Premier League summit, making that final tie even more mouthwatering.

Regardless of how this season finishes, it will go down as a successful return to the top flight. The fact we’re even mentioning Fulham and Europe in the same sentence is a testament to the work carried out by Marco Silva. The Cottagers have been relegated in each of their three Premier League campaigns – the dizzy heights of sixth will be a breath of fresh air for the Fulham faithful.