Well, there’s nothing like a trip back home to make things better, right? After a sorely disappointing defeat on the road to West Ham – one that put the supporters into whatever the tier of worry is directly before panic mode – this was what the club needed.
A full team win saw Dimitar Berbatov pocket a brace on his starting debut, and basically the entirety of the club performed top notch. A comprehensive win like this doesn’t need too much breakdown, but I would like to highlight the phenomenal passing with a few graphics, which you’ll see in a moment:
Dimitar Berbatov – How did we get this guy again? How long has it been since Fulham have had such a proven goalhawk on their side, if ever? It sure feels good knowing he’s lurking 24/7, and this time around the rest of the club did a great job putting him in a position to take advantage of that sixth sense. It’s going to take some real getting used to seeing him walk around the pitch while everyone else is sprinting, but it’s just his style, and if it continues to produce results, he can lie down and take naps for all I care.
Alex Kacaniklic – The Robin to Berbatov’s Batman, Kacaniklic provided the work rate needed to feed the statue in the middle that scores all the goals. Kacaniklic dominated the left flank, and sliced through the defenses with some impressive runs. He was threatening enough that he drew a penalty for Berba’s second goal, as all the West Brom defense could do to prevent his runs at that point was scythe him down. You could see, especially after Berba slotted home the penalty, the massive smile on Alex’s face, and Berba acknowledged it with a point and a hug. I think he’s pretty much locked up that left wing position as his for now.
Chris Baird – Wow, where did this come from? Thanks to injuries to everyone and their mother in the midfield (of which we’re already lacking bodies), Baird stepped up and performed admirably. His passing was flawless, hitting on 82/88 passes. Check it out:
Look how much ground he covered as well! While for the most part he stuck to the right half, he fed lots of passes to the left side attacking half as well. Baird was instrumental in Fulham’s success, as were these next two players…
Honorable mention: Steve Sidwell and Sascha Riether – I told you I’d use a few passing graphics, so without further ado, here’s these two players passing charts:
Well, there you have it. Three players instrumental to the link between defense and attack, three players with over 90% passing success rates. I mentioned Baird’s field coverage, but look at Sidwell’s! Baird’s can be a little deceiving because while he passed to all portions of the field, the passes didn’t exactly originate from all portions of the field, and the origin of the passes shows where the player was. However, Sidwell literally was all over the place in the midfield. Naturally, he was on the left a bit more compared to Baird on the right, but he was definitely covering all portions of the middle third. And my goodness, Riether bossed the right side of the field.
Add all this passing up, and you get 182/208 passing in the attacking third, compared to West Brom’s 52/85. Domination!
Ummm……..usually I just blow this section off in wins like this as a joke, but I legitimately tried to find something the club could work on, so here’s what I found.
The crossing – Most of the Fulham attacks were brought in with runs of players such as Kacaniklic, so crosses were rare, but Fulham have struggled to put in a good cross for two matches straight now. Against West Ham they were an abysmal 2/18 with crosses. Here, they were better but still not where they need to be at 9/36. 9 successful crosses is usually pretty good, but you’d want them to improve that 25% success rate to about 33% to be really successful at crossing.
Where does Fulham go from here:
That away form discussion has reared its ugly head once again, and may be something this club struggles with again this season. They travel to West Ham and are soundly beaten, and then with arguably a worse squad on the pitch and facing a surging West Brom club, they dominate and put away a comprehensive 3-0 win where they’re victorious in just about every statistical category. It doesn’t make much sense, but it’s where this club is at now. Hopefully some of the injuries subside and we get a few bodies back, but with today’s performance, they’ve showed that at least at home the depth is back.