On Saturday afternoon, Fulham drew 2-2 with Celta Vigo at Craven Cottage in their final preseason friendly.
With just a week to go until the Premier League season opener against Crystal Palace, here are three takeaways from the friendly.
Aboubakar Kamara and Aleksandar Mitrovic have what it takes to star in the Premier League
The Whites’ two goalscorers on Saturday both bagged wonderful strikes, with Mitrovic executing a stunning turn before slotting home an early finish to open the scoring.
Kamara put Fulham ahead for a second time in the first half, collecting a pass on the right wing before arrowing a low blast into the bottom left of the net.
Both had faced questions about how they would fare in the top flight, yet the two attackers look set to take the Premier League by storm.
The Serbian’s goal revealed he can continue last season’s stunning form, and Kamara has the ability to run teams ragged with searing pace and inventive skills.
Fulham’s defence needs time to gel
Fulham shipped two soft goals against the La Liga side, with both strikes coming from rather routine crosses that were headed in.
The first goal came from a delivery in from the right wing, with Maxime le Merchand beaten to the cross as Celta Vigo responded almost immediately to Mitrovic’s opener.
The Spaniards equalised yet again right before halftime when an outswinging free kick was headed in by a completely unmarked Celta Vigo player.
Defensive lapses such as these can be expected in a preseason friendly when the new defensive pairings have not had time to settle, yet they must be corrected quickly if Fulham want to avoid being punished in the top flight.
The arrival of Alfie Mawson should help sort out these errors, yet with the Englishman still not completely fit, Fulham must hope their back four can solidify shortly.
— Cottage Central (@cottage_central) August 4, 2018
The future looks bright to Fulham’s youngsters
A great moment during the match came when Steven Sessegnon was substituted on and joined his twin brother Ryan on the pitch.
It was an encouraging and heartwarming image to have the two young players playing together, and they were joined by fellow academy graduate Marlon Fossey.
The young American also acquitted himself well on the right side of defence, revealing the bright future for Fulham’s youngsters.
Team of the Week: Crystal Palace’s Wayne Hennessey flawless performance denies Fulham
The Welshman was on hand to deny Fulham on six occasions.
When Crystal Palace went out and acquired Vicente Guaita from Getafe in the summer, goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey surely must have been apprehensive about his status as the club’s number one.
But, despite the Spaniard’s arrival, Hennessey kept his place in the squad and produced a flawless performance against Fulham en route to a 2-0 victory this weekend.
The Welshman did also sign a new three-year contract over the summer, and rewarded Roy Hodgson’s faith in him by recording six saves against the Cottagers.
“[Hennessey] ended the last season exceptionally well and played very well around that time, so even though both goalkeepers have done well in the pre-season matches, I had no reason to take the shirt from Wayne.”
The newly-promoted side started the match brightly and had the Eagles on the back foot at Craven Cottage, yet the 31-year-old stood strong between the sticks.
In the first five minutes, Hennessey dove brilliantly to his left to claw away a rasping drive from Cyrus Christie. He followed that up by denying Aleksandar Mitrovic’s smashed strikes on a number of occasions, frustrating the Serbian striker.
The goalkeeper’s saves were ever the more impressive considering the lack of clear-cut rebounds they produced. With winger Ryan Sessegnon eager to pounce on any loose ball in the box, Hennessey made sure to parry shots well away from the danger area and maintain his clean sheet.
Vital to Crystal Palace’s defensive solidity in their opening Premier League win in SW6, Wayne Hennessey repaid his manager’s faith and earned himself a place in the team of the week.
Fulham’s likely XI vs Crystal Palace: Seri, Bryan & Schurrle debuts
There are plenty of new faces at Craven Cottage.
Slavisa Jokanovic is going to face a number of selection dilemmas over the course of the coming season after some excellent summer recruitment by Fulham.
His owners have provided him with a squad that should compete in the Premier League and relegation now looks very unlikely, even before a ball has been kicked.
That is quite some achievement by a promoted club that has come through the play-offs and Tony Khan deserves praise for the business he has conducted.
Fulham have been ambitious and shown just how attractive they can be with Premier League status. The supporters are rightly excited ahead of the first game against Crystal Palace.
Here is how the Cottagers could line-up…
Goalkeeper – Fabri
The Spaniard was signed from Besiktas during the summer and he is likely to start the season in goal for Fulham. It could be that he is only keeping the shirt warm for Sergio Rico, but his compatriot only joined on deadline day and this weekend is likely to come too soon.
If Fabri wants to be the number one this season, it is important that he delivers on Saturday as he may not get too many more chances.
Defence – Christie, Chambers, Le Marchand, Bryan
There were a number of defensive signings made by Fulham over the summer as they prepare for life in the Premier League and three could be set for their debuts on Saturday.
Cyrus Christie is likely to start the season at right-back and he will be hoping to step his game up to replace Ryan Fredericks. The opposite full-back position could go to Joe Bryan. The deadline day signing played for Bristol City last weekend and he will be ready to go.
Calum Chambers will provide Premier League experience, while Maxime Le Marchand has had a pre-season with Fulham and could be given the start. Alfie Mawson will be missing for the opening fixture, but he is likely to take one of the spots on his return.
Midfield – McDonald, Seri, Cairney
Although there has been a lot of eye-catching signings made by Fulham over the summer, it is important that Jokanovic maintains a core from the promotion-winning team. Kevin McDonald has been crucial in their development in recent years and he will be given the chance to start the season.
He sits in front of the back four and allows the more talented players to thrive in the team. Tom Cairney has considered a Premier League player for a long time and he now has the opportunity to prove that. Last season, he contributed six goals and five assists. He will want a similar return in the Premier League.
The headline signing of Fulham’s summer was Jean Michael Seri and he will be the player everyone is watching at Craven Cottage on Saturday. He will provide dynamism and technical ability to the midfield. The Ivorian will want to make an instant impact against Crystal Palace.
Attack – Schurrle, Mitrovic, Sessegnon
The Cottagers are a promoted club, but their forward line looks to be one of the best outside of the top six. Andre Schurrle will be given his debut on the first weekend of the season and he will have a point to prove in England after an underwhelming spell with Chelsea.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was excellent for Fulham last season and his permanent signing was a priority during the summer. They managed to get him back and he will be full of confidence as he attempts to prove himself in the top-flight. The system will get the best from him.
They will be joined in the attack by Ryan Sessegnon. The teenager will be hoping to have a good first season in the Premier League and his partnership with Bryan has huge potential. The academy graduate will be deployed in an advanced role, where he can do most damage.
Jokanovic’s Fulham conference: Four absentees, quote of the season
Fulham face Crystal Palace in their first game back in the top-flight.
Fulham are back in the Premier League and Slavisla Jokanovic has spent heavily this summer to prepare the side for their return to the top-flight.
The Cottagers have secured a host of impressive summer signings, which include World Cup winning winger Andre Schurrle, Ivory Coast midfielder Jean-Michel Seri and highly-coveted Swansea City defender Alfie Mawson.
Not everyone is set to make their debut for the club tomorrow though, as we identify three key takeaways from Jokanovic’s press conference ahead of the game against Crystal Palace.
No easy ride for new additions
Having spent over £100m to land 12 new players, Jokanovic is set for regular selection headaches throughout the season if everyone is performing at their best – and he fired a warning that he is not going to let anyone slide.
Already making what could be the best quote of the season, Jokanovic encouraged his squad to remain on their toes and to fight for places in the squad ahead of what is set to be a gruelling campaign back in the Premier League.
“I’m not Santa Claus – there are no presents. The players need to fight for their places. We’ve made a great investment in the transfer market and I’m hoping we’ll see an immediate benefit.”
Four absentees named
While there is new faces available in the squad, there is also a number of familiar names who are unavailable tomorrow as Jokanovic revealed that Denis Odoi, Tim Ream and Ayite Floyd are all injured and won’t feature.
New signing Alfie Mawson also won’t be making his debut following his switch from Swansea as he has not started working with the squad yet, meaning he must wait until at least next weekend’s trip to Tottenham to make his Fulham debut.
“I can’t use Denis Odoi tomorrow, who’s suspended. Alfie Mawson hasn’t started working with us yet. Tim Ream and Ayite Floyd are injured.”
Here to stay
If the £100m spending spree did not make it clear enough, Fulham are in the Premier League with the intention to stay and their wealth of summer signings suggest they could put the cat amongst the pigeons to cause a number of problems for established sides.
Jokanovic, understandably, is excited about the club’s return to the top-flight but is taking it one game at a time as he looks to secure all three points in a London derby against Crystal Palace, who have plenty of players who could cause problems.
“It’s important to show ambition and desire to stay up – that’s our first target. We’re building a team to be competitive at this level. I’m excited. Our target remain the same – win all three points.”
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