The Reasons Behind Fulham’s Impressive Premier League Return
Fulham achieved a return to the Premier League for 2022-23 by winning the English Football League Championship last season, and like most promoted teams they were immediately tipped by many to be fighting relegation this season and one of the favourites to ultimately go back down. But Fulham have had an excellent first half of the season, Premier League safety is all but secured and they find themselves firmly in mid-table.
Fulham’s rise up the table has been somewhat quiet, but over the last few game weeks prior to the FIFA World Cup and following the event, they managed an excellent run of form. They are now offered at 4/6 to finish in the league’s top half for those looking to place a bet on Premier League markets.
Consecutive victories against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Leicester City going into 2023 helped Fulham stamp their authority on the league – they are here to compete not just to avoid relegation and maintain Premier League revenue. They are even a dark horse in some football tips to qualify for the Europa League next season, which would be a huge shock considering what was expected at the start of the season.
The Key Players This Season
Fulham are a team that were perhaps fuelled by fans and pundits alike underestimating them pre-season and still doing so in the early game weeks. Aleksandr Mitrovic was written off and labelled as a forward that did not have the necessary quality to be successful in the Premier League.
The Serbian was already in double figures by the end of December and he offers so much more apart from finding the net in regard to his link-up play and aerial ability when receiving long balls. Mitrovic’s impact on the Premier League began on matchday one when he wreaked havoc on Liverpool’s once insurmountable defence as his physicality and willingness to battle for second balls cost the reds greatly.
How's that Mitrovic owners? 😉#FPL #LEIFUL pic.twitter.com/bmBlrnVdfx
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) January 3, 2023
In terms of improving on their Championship winning squad, Fulham made smart acquisitions. Most notably, Marco Silva brought in his compatriot Joao Palhinha from Sporting Club which was a ridiculous coup for a newly promoted side. The Portugal international settled into the Premier League seamlessly as an all-action midfielder. He is a technician able to play line-breaking passes that is equally as impressive off the ball due to his tenacity and sheer athleticism to keep up with agile players.
Palhinha has been a major factor in making Fulham more compact off the ball and more comfortable in possession. His ball-playing abilities are some of the best in the league, he has made the most tackles in the English top-flight this season (80).
Many players from Fulham’s squad have played significant parts in their positive start to the Premier League, but one of the main difference makers has been Bernd Leno. At Bayer Leverkusen and Arsenal, he gained a deserved reputation for being error-prone, but at Fulham, he has perhaps turned a new page. The German has been imperious between the sticks and has won the Cottagers points single-handedly this season with his impressive reflex saves.
"The fans can dream but we stay humble and go step by step." 🧤@Bernd_Leno | #LEIFUL
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) January 3, 2023
Where Fulham finish at this point is not a huge worry as they will stay in the Premier League barring remarkable circumstances in the remainder of the season. In the summer Silva must continue to make intelligent moves in the transfer market to add more quality to a fast-developing squad and perhaps European football could even return to Craven Cottage in the near future.