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Three things learnt from Norwich City’s 1-1 draw at Fulham

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Norwich City

One of the most eye-catching Championship games of the opening weekend took place at Craven Cottage, where last season’s play-off semi-finalists and joint-top scorers Fulham hosted Norwich City.

This game was a good test for the promotion credentials of both, with Fulham likely to challenge for automatic promotion and the Canaries in expected to contend for a play-off place despite naming seven debutants against the Cottagers.

As you would expect, there was plenty of attacking football on show as both teams created chances in a hard-fought, 1-1 draw. Here are three things that we learned from an enthralling contest.

Oliver Norwood will be a great addition for Fulham

As entertaining as Fulham were last season, at times they lacked a controlling influence in the middle of the park. This is why Cottagers’ fans rejoiced when the club’s official website announced the season long loan signing of experienced Northern Ireland international Oliver Norwood from Brighton & Hove Albion, as he just the man to balance the attacking talents of Stefan Johansen and Tom Cairney.

The signs were certainly promising against Norwich, as Norwood’s meld of accurate passing and willingness to show for the ball laid a more solid foundation for Fulham’s slick possession game. His high work-rate also shone through, and he will arguably get even better as the season progresses.

This will be a space that Fulham fans will watch with interest in the months ahead, but there is no doubt that Norwood brings attributes and experience that the club’s midfield lacked at times last season.

Norwich boast a genuine threat down the flanks

Norwich have undoubtedly experienced a turbulent summer, with Declan Rudd, Graham Dorrans. Jonny Howson and the talented young winger Jacob Murphy all sold for a combined sum of £19.5 million.

Incoming manager Daniel Farke has also signed six new players during the pre-season, and while Norwich City’s new-look side will need time to gel there were certainly signs of cohesiveness and promise at the Cottage.

The Canaries looked particularly dangerous down the flanks, with former Wigan Athletic winger Yanic Wildschut tormenting Fulham’s young full-back Ryan Sessegnon and Marley Watkins forcing two fine saves from stopper David Button.

Both players have pace and trickery in abundance, and could provide Norwich with key attacking outlets as the season progresses.

Angus Gunn is a chip off the old block

For those of you who can remember back to the heady days of 1994, Norwich City were competing in the then-UEFA Cup after finishing third in the inaugural Premier League season. Their European run included a stunning, 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in the Olympiastadion, which represented the Bavarians’ one and only home defeat against English opposition in their famous stadium.

Legendary Scottish stopper Bryan Gunn played an integral role in that win, and if the draw at Fulham is anything to go by then his son Angus is a chip off the old block. As Norwich were subjected to intense pressure from the home side following Russell Martin’s unfortunate own goal, Gunn made fine saves from Ryan Fredericks and Tom Cairney to keep the Canaries in the game prior to half time.

Gunn, who is currently enjoying a season long loan from Manchester City, looks set to play a key role for Norwich in the Championship and he certainly has the pedigree to make his mark. As for the fans, the sight of another Gunn in goal must also bring back a raft of memories from the most glorious period in the club’s history.

Championship

Fulham fans would hate it, but Chelsea should chase Slavisa Jokanovic and Ryan Sessegnon

Chelsea may need a new manager in the summer and Fulham offer a perfect solution.

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Fulham are flying this season yet again. For the second season in a row Slavisa Jokanovic is leading the club to a promotion push and Cottagers fans will no doubt be hoping the Serbian can take them all the way this time.

He is a massively important part of the reason why Fulham find themselves where they are right now, but so is left-sided phenomenon Ryan Sessegnon. The Championship star has most of Europe tracking his progress as he continues to exceed expectations at such a young age in the Championship.

Fulham are flying and excitement is high at Craven Cottage.

But, success attracts attention and plenty of teams have been linked with Sessegnon. Jokanovic, however, is also a name that is being linked with other clubs.

Fulham’s West London rivals Chelsea are looking likely to need a new manager this season. The general consensus is that Antonio Conte will be on his way out of Stamford Bridge this summer and whilst plenty of names are being linked with the job, a surprise option appears to be the Fulham boss.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Back in March, his name emerged as a surprise candidate for the position, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Whilst he has no managerial credentials in the Premier League he still has fantastic form as a head coach.

After leading Partizan Belgrade to back-to-back promotions he guided Muangthong United to an undefeated season and the Thai Premier League title.

Short-lived spells at Levski Sofia and Hercules followed before getting Watford promoted to the Premier League in 2015.

Before Fulham lured him back to England, the Serbian had guided Maccabi Tel-Aviv to the Champions League group stage, by knocking out perennial entrants FC Basel.

Jokanovic is rightly a highly rated manager. Chelsea would be making a smart move by bringing him in this summer. Of course, he is also a former player, although there are few highlights of his time at Stamford Bridge.

(28 Oct 2001: Slavisa Jokanovic of Chelsea gets away from Darryl Powell of Derby during the match between Derby County and Chelsea in the FA Barclaycard Premiership at Pride Park, Derby. Mandatory Credit: Mark Thompson/ALLSPORT

Bringing in Jokanovic could also give Chelsea the upper-hand in any fight to sign Sessegnon this summer.

The Blues are just one of many teams to have been linked with the young talent this summer. If Jokanovic was present at Stamford Bridge, they would have a massive advantage in the hunt for the impressive teenager.

Fulham fans would, of course, hate to see their excellent manager and young starlet head to their biggest rivals, but Chelsea would be making a smart move by making it happen.

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Fulham

After inconsistent Fulham season, is there a place for Sheyi Ojo at Liverpool?

The 20-year-old has failed to nail down a starting role at Fulham.

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Photo: Getty Images

Sheyi Ojo joined Fulham on loan from Liverpool back in August amid great fanfare, expecting to build on his bright appearances at Anfield.

However, the 20-year-old has endured a frustrating season in southwest London, struggling to nail down a starting spot and dividing opinion among Fulham supporters.

After failing to set Craven Cottage on fire, it looks like a return to Anfield is highly unlikely next season.

Ojo has made 22 appearances for the Whites this season, but has scored just four goals and produced two assists – disappointing returns for a player who has made eight Premier League appearances for Liverpool.

The England U21 international enjoyed a fine run of form in the latter stages of 2017, scoring all of his four goals in a one month spell from November to December.

The winger’s standout performance came in Fulham’s wild 5-4 win against Sheffield United in November, when he bagged a brilliant brace and chipped in with a wonderful assist for Ryan Sessegnon.

(Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images)

Unfortunately for the Liverpool loanee, he has struggled to recapture this promising play in recent months. Ojo’s time at Fulham has been characterised by poor decision making, ambitious dribbles, and erratic finishing.

His lack of end product was painfully on show in Ojo’s last appearance for the Whites, against Sheffield Wednesday. Ojo featured prominently in his hour on the pitch, but all of his shots in dangerous positions lacked any purpose or power.

He has not featured for the Whites since being taken off after 62 minutes at Hillsborough.

It seems Ojo has fallen down the pecking order for the coveted right wing position at the Cottage, with Lucas Piazon, Floyd Ayite, Neeskens Kebano, and even wingback Cyrus Christie preferred ahead of the 20-year-old.

With the current Liverpool loanee struggling to assert himself at Craven Cottage, a return to the first team fray at Anfield looks increasingly unlikely.

It seems Sheyi Ojo will have to settle for yet another Championship loan spell next season, as the youngster searches for first team football that is vital for his devlopment.

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Championship

Fulham should try and bring £11m Patrick Roberts back if promoted

Fulham are hoping to push toward Premier League promotion after another brilliant season.

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For the second season in a row, Fulham are having an outstanding campaign under the management of Slavisa Jokanovic. The Serbian is leading them to the Championship play-offs but is also still firmly in the battle for automatic promotion with Cardiff City and Aston Villa.

It would be a fine reward and the culmination of a brilliant season for Fulham if they could indeed secure a place back in the Premier League.

If they did manage to do just that, the Cottagers should start looking at bringing one of their former talents back to the club.

(Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Fulham have developed some great young talent in recent years as Ryan Sessegnon’s form and stature would attest to.

Another player reared at Fulham is winger Patrick Roberts. The 21-year-old emerged as one of the Championship’s top talents in the 2014-15 season. It piqued the interest of several top clubs, including Manchester City. According to The Guardian, he arrived in a deal which could eventually be worth £11 million.

But he has spent most of his time out on loan at Celtic from City. With Manchester City crowned Premier League champions at the weekend, a first-team opportunity looks incredibly unlikely next season.

Celtic are often mentioned as having an interest in signing the player permanently but, as of yet, no deal has been formalised.

(Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Fulham would be wise to try and bring the player back to Craven Cottage. After an initial 18-month stint at Celtic, the Bhoys wanted to sign him permanently last summer, but Pep Guardiola would not allow it. A new loan deal instead was agreed.

This time around it has not been as successful, in part due to injuries, but Fulham would surely tempt Roberts back to his home club if they were in the Premier League.

Whether it be on a loan deal or permanently a return to Fulham would be excellent for the 20-year-old.

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