BLUES trudging away from Craven Cottage were engulfed with a feeling of frustration after arguably our best display of the season yielded just a point.
Defensive errors hit us hard again with both goals coming after sloppily losing possession in our own half. On a positive note, our attacking play was ace plus our main rivals Arsenal and Spurs both lost meaning we returned to fourth spot.
Our normal high line strategy was again evident; Fulham play a short passing game with a fast tempo on the ball, preferring to play the ball out from the back so the idea was to box them in and reverse this style to force them to play long. Fulham found it hard to get out of their own half with us bossing 71% of final third possession, making 286 final third touches to Fulham’s 107. Opposing manager Martin Jol – a man well schooled in the concept of Total Football from his time at clubs such as Bayern Munich and Ajax – was gushing with his praise of the Blues free flowing attacking style, likening our approach to Barcelona. Yes that’s Barcelona, not Stoke.
Much was made of the sheer amount of shots we had – 27 in total to our hosts’ nine – with 71% of these ‘real’ chances inside Fulham’s 18 yard box. We still engineer more shots per game (20) than any side in the top flight and in Europe’s top five leagues.
Fellaini looked a lot sharper than last week and did fantastic with both goals; the Belgian has had 38 goal attempts this season, 32 of which have been in the box with only Luis Suarez and Jermaine Defoe having amassed more in the top flight.
Next up is a home game against Martin O’Neill’s atrocious Sunderland who can only dream of such attacking delights. The Irishman has never been much of a tactician, playing percentage football and getting the ball ‘into the mixer’ as often as possible. After the initial ‘new manager syndrome’ wore off things have been getting increasingly bleak on Wearside; Sunderland make the fewest shots per game in the league, concede the second most amount of shots and no Sunderland player has scored for over eight hours. They do draw a lot though with four of their last five on the road ending all square. Given the way we have been playing lately you get the feeling somebody will be on the end of a thrashing soon. Hopefully on Saturday it will be the Mackems.