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Marco Silva has Fulham showing five-star form

Fulham have pushed themselves into the top ten of the Premier League with a couple of eye-catching wins over the last week and no one will fancy a game against Marco Silva's side over the busy festive period.

Here is a look at where things have been going right for the Cottagers and whether they can sustain their fine form to make a strong push in the second half of the campaign.

Fulham are currently 4/1 to finish in the top half of the table, while they are 1/6 to end up in the bottom half.

Thumping home wins a big boost

Consecutive 5-0 home wins against Nottingham Forest and West Ham in the space of a few days have had tongues wagging about Fulham, but it was the game before that perhaps laid the foundations for those successes and they didn’t even win it.

The London outfit went into injury-time at Liverpool winning 3-2, only to be left crushed by goals from Wataru Endo and Trent Alexander-Arnold that gave the Reds the points.

However, it was interesting to note that midfielder Harry Wilson, who was on the mark against his old club, said after their win over the Hammers that it was their Anfield performance that gave them the confidence to do what they have achieved in the last week.

Forest headed to the Cottage having lost their last three games, so a home win was expected on Wednesday, but the nature of their success over West Ham was more of a surprise, as their London rivals should have been full of beans after collecting a 2-1 win at Tottenham the previous Thursday.

But going toe-to-toe with Jurgen Klopp’s outfit proved to Fulham that they are capable of providing a tough test for any team in the top-flight.

Jimenez shows he is far from finished

Fulham had an excellent season in finishing tenth in the Premier League following their Championship success, but there was a feeling they would regress in August and most of that was caused by striker Aleksandar Mitrovic’s future.

The Serbia international made just one substitute appearance in their opening win at Everton before getting his wish for a move to the Saudi Pro League, leaving the Cottagers with a huge void.

Just how were they going to replace a player who had scored 14 league goals for them the previous season and 42 when they won the second tier?

Silva pulled out a masterstroke with the capture of Raul Jimenez from Wolves.

The 32-year-old Mexican had struggled after suffering a serious head injury in a game at Arsenal in November 2020, which kept him out of action for nine months and had not scored a league goal for the Midlands outfit last season.

But he is relishing the opportunity to lead the line for the Cottagers in the last few weeks, scoring four goals in his last five games, including a brace against Forest.

It should not be forgotten that he scored 17 goals in the 2019-20 season and maybe playing without a head guard has helped him psychologically.

He has proved over the last few weeks that his £5million transfer fee was an absolute snip and he could spur on Carlos Vinicius to raise his game after he scored as a substitute for Jimenez against the Hammers.

Leno a key part of the success

However, it is not just up front where the Cottagers are excelling as goalkeeper Bernd Leno has been formidable.

It is no surprise to see Sheffield United’s Wes Foderingham making the greatest number of saves in the top-flight this season, but Leno is surprisingly second given he's in a team that is 10th in the table.

So a case could be made for the former Arsenal custodian being the Cottagers’ most valuable player and keeping him fit will be key if the London side are going to continue to progress.

Goal expectations being exceeded

The statistics have made good reading for the Fulham coaching staff as well.

The team scored just ten goals in their opening 12 matches of the season, but things have clicked and their expected goals (xG) figures have also increased in recent weeks.

There have been just four games this season when the Cottagers have had an xG figure of more than two and three of those were in their last three games on their own patch.

And the figures have been greatly exceeded as they had a figure of 1.8 in the 3-2 win over Wolves, which included two penalties, followed by 2.5 and 2.7 in their two most recent 5-0 wins.

They even scored three times from a figure of 1.2 against Liverpool, so they are creating goals from difficult chances.

It can only be concluded that a team who are tenth in the table but 14th in xG and 15th in xG conceded are playing above themselves and they are enjoying strong possession figures too.

They have had 60 per cent of the ball or more in their last three home games, a figure surpassed in just two other matches this season, at home to promoted pair Luton and Sheffield United.

More points likely before year's end

There is a chance further progress is on the horizon and will fancy their chances at Newcastle on Saturday, as the injury-hit Magpies looked out on their feet in their 4-1 defeat at Tottenham on Sunday.

The Cottagers are 16/5 to win at St James’ Park and claim their second away success of the campaign, while Eddie Howe’s team are 5/6 to prevail.

A home game against Burnley follows and then a potentially tricky trip to in-form Bournemouth, before the year ends with a home game against Arsenal.

And after those matches we will have a better idea about whether this last week was a flash in the pan, or whether the Cottagers can stay the course this season.


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