This season has seen some significant changes in personnel and style of football signalling that we really are starting to see Martin Jol’s team. One of the most interesting changes has been that this current Fulham side has become a lot more balanced when it comes to attacking. Last season attacks were split like so:
Left – 27%
Middle – 38%
Right – 35%
This shows the influence of Dempsey’s consistent cutting in and the impact of Dembele, Ruiz, Diarra, Murphy and Duff who attacked through the middle or on the right. This spread of attacks was not a huge problem, although there were times when Fulham cried out for a bit of width to change games. An example that springs to mind is the Blackburn game away when Fulham were playing against 10 men. Rich has outlined this last season and against Blackburn’s 10 men we struggled to spread the play in what was one of the worst performances of the season.
This season there has been significant change:
Left – 35%
Middle – 33%
Right – 32%
Not only is the distribution of attacks much more balance across the pitch, for the first time in what must be a while (pre Hodgson I would imagine) the left hand side has seen the most Fulham attacks. This can be directly traced to the loss of Dempsey and the introduction of Kaca and Richardson on the left, both players with pace who like to stick to the left of the pitch. This is not to say that they do not cut in, both do, but they are happy to attack from this area into the box; providing both crosses and shots.
So the question is – is a more balanced Fulham a better Fulham? I would imagine that it makes us far less predictable going forward, which is a positive thing. The stats would indicate that we are also much better at not only shooting but getting shots on target so this more balanced attack seems to be paying dividends. Often in seasons gone past we could get funnelled down the centre too often, but now Fulham have real width and pace to balance out the lashings of creativity emanating from the middle in the forms of Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov.