Talking Tactics

How Iwobi's pressing can ignite goal-shy Fulham

By Adrian Clarke 1 Oct 2023

Adrian Clarke says attacking midfielder could be missing link for Marco Silva's side against Chelsea

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 7.

Fulham v Chelsea

Scoring only five goals across their opening six matches, Fulham are still searching for attacking inspiration.

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The departure of talismanic centre-forward Aleksandar Mitrovic was bound to impact their goal threat, but Marco Silva would still have expected better output in the final third at this stage.

So far this season no Fulham player has mustered more than six shots, excluding blocks, which outlines a lack of creative spark in their play.

Silva's side will need to show more potency in the final third if they are to beat Chelsea at home for the second successive season on Monday evening.

As reflected in the table below, there has been a significant downturn from Fulham compared to 2022/23.

Raul Jimenez and Carlos Vinicius are doing their best to fill the void left by Mitrovic, but the Serb's aerial threat was on another level to anything they can provide.

Registering only three headed shots in the campaign so far as a team, Fulham no longer have that "fear factor" when balls are sent into the box.

They are creating fewer chances and being less clinical when those opportunities do come their way, so it is no surprise Fulham are struggling for goals.

Fulham's attacking stats comparison
Player 22/23 PL rank 23/24 PL rank
Shots/90 11.28 12th 9.33 18th
Shots inside box/90 7.55 12th 5.33 20th
Headed shots/90 2.16 5th 0.50 20th
Conversion rate % 17.50 5th 12.5 12th

A lot of Fulham’s best moments and performances last season came when they feverishly pressed the opposition.

Showing no fear, Silva’s side were terrific at forcing turnovers, especially during the first half of the 2022/23 campaign.

This time around they have been far less ferocious in their attempts to regain possession in advanced areas.

Possession won in final third comparison
Fulham 22/23 PL rank 23/24 PL rank
Possession won final third/90 4.53 12th 3.17 19th

If they can get back to a mode of play that sees them apply greater pressure high upfield, it will be a way of carving out extra chances to score.

Facing local rivals Chelsea could be the perfect moment for Fulham to go up a gear when they press.

Silva’s side are making 20 fewer sprints per match than they did last season, so the head coach would be justified to demand greater intensity from his players.

Decrease in sprints
Player 2022/23 2023/24
Sprints/90 133.4 113.3
Time for Iwobi?

Summer signing Alex Iwobi scored in an EFL Cup success at home to Norwich City, so must be pushing hard for his first Premier League start in Fulham colours.

Iwobi's goal v Norwich

The former Everton star is a very hardworking attacking midfielder, who presses with conviction.

Indeed, no Everton player regained possession more times inside the final third than Iwobi's total of 35 last season, so he could act as a catalyst in that department.

Most Fulham shots 23/24 (exc. blocks)
Player Mins played Shots
Raul Jimenez 456 6
Bobby De Cordova-Reid  362 6
Harry Wilson 424 6
Alex Iwobi 183 4

In only 183 minutes of top-flight action this season, 44 of which have been for Fulham, Iwobi has also attempted four shots on goal, so his positivity inside the final third could give Fulham the lift they need.

It should be remembered that Iwobi created 57 chances in open play last season in a struggling Toffees side.

The only individuals to top that number were Bukayo Saka, Mohamed Salah, Martin Odegaard, Kevin De Bruyne and Bruno Fernandes.

A fired-up Iwobi, eager to impress the Craven Cottage supporters, may just be the spark Fulham need to raise their level against Chelsea.

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