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Fulham should repeat Stefan Johansen success by bringing in Stuart Armstrong

The Scottish midfielder is set to leave Celtic this summer.

Mathew Nash

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It looks as though Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong could be on his way out of the club this summer. The Scottish Sun recently reported that Armstrong was on his way out of Parkhead this summer, as his contract enters its final year. Crystal Palace and Brighton are both said to be interested in the player, whose first-team place at Celtic was impacted by his contract situation last season and the emergence of Callum McGregor.

Now it seems that Armstrong is on his way out and newly promoted Fulham should be keeping tabs.

(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The midfielder finds himself in a remarkably similar position to the one current Fulham star Stefan Johansen found himself in 2016. His contract entering its final year, Celtic decided to cash in rather than lose him for free. That move has certainly paid off. The Norwegian has become a regular at Craven Cottage and helped them win promotion to the Premier League last season.

Armstrong is just as good a, if not a better, option than Johansen and would add some much-needed depth to the Fulham squad ahead of the new season.

His fee would seemingly not be overly expensive and with former team-mate Johansen at the club, settling in will be made slightly easier.

Fulham need to make sure they spend wisely in the transfer market ahead of their return to the Premier League. Johansen proved such a shrewd move two years ago. Armstrong would be similarly sharp.

Fulham

One winner, one loser as Fulham face defeat against Tottenham

The Cottagers have suffered two defeats from two so far this season.

Max Cohen

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Photo: Getty Images

Fulham endured a losing return to Wembley on Saturday, falling to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.

It was a match few expected the Whites to get anything out of, but the newly-promoted club nevertheless played with energy and had the score level at 1-1 for a large portion of the second half.

It was an encouraging display, yet ultimately a pointless result as Fulham slumped to two consecutive defeats.

Here is one winner and one loser from the match, as one Fulham defender rose to the occasion and one of last season’s promotion heroes was dropped to the bench.

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Winner: Maxime Le Marchand

There had been much talk of how Fulham were missing a multitude of central defenders in the run-up to the match, with Denis Odoi suspended and Tim Ream and Alfie Mawson missing through injury.

Yet despite the absence of these centre-backs, Maxime Le Marchand produced an all-action display at the heart of Fulham’s back four. Standing in the way of many Spurs attacks, the Frenchman was quick to snuff out danger and block dangerous shots all match.

It was telling that all three goals came from brilliant pieces of skill from Spurs, and Le Marchand might well have given Slavisa Jokanovic another selection headache when Ream and Mawson are fit again.

(Photo by Glyn Kirk/Getty Images)

Loser: Kevin McDonald

The holding midfielder lost his place in the team on Saturday, replaced by deadline day signing Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.

The Cameroonian international had only joined up with the squad this week, and with a limited number of training sessions under his belt, many expected McDonald to be preferred in the starting XI.

Yet to the surprise of some Fulham supporters, Anguissa was immediately thrust into the match from the start and played the full 90 minutes with promise. In flashes, he showed impetus and strength, yet struggled at times to distribute the ball quickly and effectively through the midfield.

McDonald, a stalwart and integral member of last season’s team, will feel hard done by to have lost his starting berth– but that is the nature of the Premier League.

More competition means more uncomfortable decisions, and it is now up to the Scot to convince Jokanovic that he deserves to be Fulham’s first choice defensive midfielder.

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Three things learnt from Tottenham’s win over Fulham: Moura proves his point

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Photo: Getty Images.

Harry Kane finally ended his August curse by scoring in the Premier League in the first month of the season as Tottenham secured a 3-1 victory over Fulham at Wembley on Saturday afternoon.

Lucas Moura had opened the scoring with an impressive curling finish on the stroke of half-time, but the visitors fought back as Aleksandr Mitrovic nodded into an empty net after some poor defending.

Kieran Trippier gave his team the lead again with a free-kick as the clock ticked down and then Kane’s moment came with a composed finish into the far corner of the net.

Here’s what we learned from the tie…

Mauricio Pochettino is a man of his word

The Spurs coach promised to a fresh start for the squad after the closure of the transfer window and he followed through on that promise with his selection against Fulham in a London derby.

With Toby Alderweireld back in the team for only his sixth appearance for the club in 2018, Danny Rose also returned to the matchday squad and took a place on the bench. Having failed to sign anyone this summer, it’s clear that the coach has little choice but to call upon such players.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 18: Kieran Trippier of Tottenham Hotspur shoots and scores his side’s second goal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham FC at Wembley Stadium on August 18, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Lucas Moura proved he deserved his chance

After a dazzling pre-season campaign caught the eye, often acting as a second striker behind Fernando Llorente, Moura started for Pochettino alongside Harry Kane in attack and showed why he deserved a shot. His strike just before half-time was the perfect example of his excellent technique.

Throughout, the Brazilian was energetic and his movement created opportunities for those in and around him. After this display, he can expect to be in contention.

Ben Davies’ questionable form has continued

Question marks were raised over the performances of Ben Davies in pre-season after he looked to have secured the role of first choice at left-back in 2017/18. Many shrugged off his form as pre-season and nothing to worry about, but his start to the competitive campaign has shown few signs of improvement.

As Aleksandr Mitrovic scored the equaliser, it was his woeful positioning and tracking back which allowed Ryan Sessegnon to feed in the Serbian striker to nod into an empty net.

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Three ways Fulham could line up against Tottenham

The Cottagers face an away trip to Tottenham this weekend.

Max Cohen

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Fulham
Photo: Getty Images

Fulham travel to Wembley on Saturday for the second time since May, facing the toughest test of their Premier League season so far.

Slavisa Jokanovic has a multitude of options to choose from as the Whites face off against Tottenham Hotspur, with debates raging over whether Fulham will adapt their possession-based style of play to combat Spurs’ strengths.

Here are three possible ways Fulham could line up at Wembley, as the club seeks their first league points of the season.

Tried and tested

Slavisa Jokanovic is known as a firm believer in his footballing philosophy, and it is entirely possible he will decide to change nothing against Tottenham Hotspur.

“We will try – we believe it’s our best way to be successful and this season, if you believe now a better way for us is to give Spurs the ball and wait for them on the edge of the box and try finish the game 0-0, I am not sure this is best plan for us.”

Slavisa Jokanovic when asked by football.london whether Fulham will continue their attractive style of play

The Whites would stick with their passing game plan, attempting to control the flow of the match and pin Tottenham inside their own defensive half.

In this system, Jokanovic would stick with his favoured 4-3-3 formation and largely keep the starting XI from the Crystal Palace match intact.

Tried and tested 4-3-3: (Rico; Bryan, Chambers, Le Marchand, Fosu-Mensah; McDonald, Seri, Cairney; Sessegnon, Mitrovic, Schurrle).

Defensive masterclass 

However, Fulham might be forced to adapt to an unfamiliar situation: a match where the opposing team dominates possession. The last time Fulham were outclassed in possession came in December 2017, when Brentford had 51% of the ball against the Whites.

“We know this team will take possession off us and we must be ready for working altogether off the ball and suffer and show the solidarity and great effort. In some part of the defensive work, we don’t need to be so talented but must be clever, organised and show great decision for working off the ball.”

Slavisa Jokanovic when asked by football.london how Fulham will defend

In a defensive scenario, the Serbian manager could opt for a more solid 4-2-3-1 and favour a counterattacking style of play with faster players, such as Aboubakar Kamara, getting the nod.

Defensive masterclass 4-2-3-1: (Rico; Bryan, Chambers, Le Marchand, Fosu-Mensah; McDonald, Anguissa; Sessegnon, Seri, Kamara; Mitrovic).

New signings galore

In a possible final twist, Jokanovic could view the Spurs match as a chance to see how well-suited many of his new signings are to Premier League football.

A wildcard option of sorts, Fulham could set up in a 4-4-2 formation that would allow Mitrovic and Luciano Vietto to work up top together, and hand former Ligue 1 duo Jean-Michael Seri and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa a partnership in midfield.

It is an unlikely proposition, but Jokanovic might be tempted to throw Mauricio Pochettino a curveball with his team selection.

New signings galore 4-4-2: (Rico; Bryan, Chambers, Le Marchand, Fosu-Mensah; Sessegnon, Seri, Anguissa, Schurrle; Mitrovic, Vietto).

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