In Yorkshire. Fulham have picked up the pace at the top of the Championship as promotion looms. We are not far now. Huddersfield’s draw with West Brom last night means Fulham need 15 points from 11 games to reclaim Premier League status. That only means four wins if they can triumph today.
This budding anticipation is unlikely to be a distraction. Silva admitted he and his team were aware of the permutations, but the mantra was to take this game at once. The results suggest that this approach holds, although the performance hasn’t been too convincing lately.
Matches should, however, become more difficult. We are one short after a run of five away games, and today’s match is the second of three on the road in just seven days. It’s a demanding race and to be honest it would be very impressive if Fulham could come out on nine points before the international break. Their away record this year suggests they could do it (they’re not far off a club record of away wins – three more to equal Jean Tigana’s team record).
But it won’t be easy. Barnsley are fighting for survival and while Poya Asbaghi had a slow start to life at Oakwell, taking three points from their first 11 games, his side have since recovered, taking 10 points from their last six games. That includes wins over Hull, Middlesbrough and QPR, three tough nuts to crack.
Key to their recent resurgence has been a familiar face, Domingos Quina. He has played on the left and already has two goals to his name, including the winner against QPR and a brilliant effort at home against Stoke last time out. He seems to have made an impact at Barnsley which he couldn’t at Fulham. I asked Silva about Quina before the game, and he gave a long answer (some of which is in real time on The Athletic app). I will post it in full here as well.
In team news, there are no new injury concerns according to Silva. The big question then concerns the rotation. Should Silva mix up the field? And if so, who do you bring in and take out? For me, it might be worth resting one of Seri or Reed, just to mitigate the risk of injury, especially with Chalobah and Cairney available. Likewise in attack, De Cordova-Reid has still managed to register six goals and six assists this year despite having limited minutes. Intrigued to hear your thoughts on this.
I’ll be in and out of here before and after the morning kickoff. For now, I’ll leave you with this pre-match quote I liked from Barnsley manager Poya Asbaghi when asked about Aleksandar Mitrovic. “It’s about stopping the machine that is Fulham,” he said. “Not just one player.”
If Fulham can keep this machine running, with the right maintenance and the right spares, you should be fine today.