Fulham 2-1 Sunderland

How about that then, eh? Fulham were absolutely fabulous, and deserved to score more than two against a good Sunderland side. More than anything it was a win that confirmed Martin Jol’s nous for teambuilding, taking Roy Hodgson’s stalwarts and making them thrilling. Everywhere you looked was someone at the top of their game and Sunderland may very well have traveled back north shaking their heads: how could they have seen that coming?

Fulham took the lead with a Clint Dempsey thunderbolt. “That’s in” I said as soon as the ball left his boot, and so it proved, flying past Mignolet’s dive and into the corner. 50 league goals for Clint? If so, a terrific milestone for a terrific player – we must hope he sees it that way and, furthermore, makes it his business to double the tally.

Sunderland weren’t here to make up the numbers and came back at us. Schwarzer made a couple of good saves (one throwing himself at the feet of a forward was particularly fine) but had no chance with a Phil Bardsley belter, the ball fading away from him and into the far corner.

But but but! There went Dembele in, out, roundabout, bang, goal. Suspect it got a deflection on the way but hey, you can count the number of players in this league who could’ve scored that goal on about one finger. Manchester United representatives will have been watching Sunderland today; one hopes they didn’t notice anyone in white because currently Dembele’s playing like a late vintage Ryan Giggs, with extra tackling. He, Murphy and Diarra must, between them, be about a good as midfield as Fulham have ever had, or could ever hope to have. If only they were all 25.

That was all the scoring, although Fulham could’ve had more. Dempsey nearly scored with a smart prod from a corner, only to see the ball headed off the line. Dembele nearly bagged a fabulous solo goal, only for Mignolet to perform miracles for what felt like the thousandth time (but probably wasn’t).

It wasn’t just chances though, the performance just oozed excellence. Our passing was wonderful, a cut above anything we’ve put together in recent memory. Murphy, ace organiser, gave a 10/10 display in the middle of the park: he’s like a grand-master playing speed chess, calculating from all possibilities and choosing the best in a fraction of a second, whether playing simple passes to nearby runners or launching a missile from one flank to another, he’s absolutely *on* at the moment. Age? Pah. Nobody else can pass like that. Diarra (who had another “there are three of him out there” performance) and Dembele (see above) complement him splendidly and we need them together for another season.

So there we are. That’s all folks for Craven Cottage 11/12. We’ve started slowly, and the Europa games were, in retrospect, not quite as much fun as they might have been, but whether it was a clearer schedule, the players tuning into Jol’s ideas, or even the removal of Zamora, something’s turned out for the best at Fulham and we’re now, more often than not, a fine side.

5 thoughts on “Fulham 2-1 Sunderland

  1. Feeling a pang of nostalgia right now. Hard to believe we’re about to see the end of Fulham’s second best season (ever?) coupled with the potential loss of up to six players.
    They say all great teams have three years together. I certainly hope this season wasn’t our third, and is perhaps just the first.

  2. We got 19 points from first 18 games, and 33 from last 17 (10w 2d 5l). Even if we lose at Spurs, had we been as good the first half of the season as the second we would be sitting on a champions league place right now. We are in champions league form! I hope the management of the club and the players (Clint) reallise this. Hell, Spurs have only mustered 27 points in the last 17. Why on earth would I assume we are likely to lose at White Hart Lane?

  3. As you say, that is an astonishing midfield and if all of them were there next season we’d vie for the top four. Similarly, as good as we’ve had so hard to hope for better, but then the past 15 years have so often raised the bar. Maybe Bryan can replace one of them, in a slightly different way. Maybe one or two of the youngsters can come into play. But how wonderful a full season of this would have been.

  4. I thought that Fulham were great yesterday. A really enjoyable match and the free flowing, confident football was an absolute joy to watch.

    Jol has done an excellent job this season – the rebuild is under way, we have promising youngsters who have been handled well, Martin seems to be happy here and the football is excellent.

    Losing Dempsey and Dembele in the summer will be a blow, no doubt. But with money reinvested in youth and wisely in the right positions, we will be fine. If Jol can convince Dembele and Dempsey to stay we will be a real handful next season.

  5. Sort of feels like the last few matches have been a wonderful conclusion to the final chapter in this long, long trilogy of a season.

    Part 1: Europa in June to October-ish: still getting our bearings. Players like Kasami, Briggs & AJ would feature fairly regularly; and not since then.

    Part 2: November to Jan: crash out of Europe, FA Cup, Stockdale steps in, shape of a consistent XI takes shape, Dembele moved to central midfield, Diarra signs

    Part 3: Feb-ish to present: win three straight, lost three straight, lose once in previous 7 (at Everton, unsurprisingly), Clint Dempsey happens.

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