Tag Archives: Soccer

Premier League Preview: Fulham F.C.

<p class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code">The final team to be promoted to the EPL is a club run by an American businessman with a great, rags to riches story eager to give Fulham and its fans a similar tale. <a href="https://fbref.com/en/squads/fd962109/Fulham-Stats">Fulham F.C.</a> is a squad with much to prove in England’s top division.</p>

The Khan Family:

<p class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code">As an Immigrant to America from Pakistan <strong><a href="https://fbref.com/en/squads/fd962109/Fulham-Stats">Shahid Khan</a></strong> wasn’t afforded many privileges. He washed dishes and stayed in less than ideal living conditions while attending the University of Illinois. Khan graduated with an engineering degree, became a business owner, and his company Flex-N-Gate is a top 50 U.S. company according to Forbes. With That money, Khan bought an American Football team, The Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 before acquiring Fulham just a couple years later in 2013.</p>
<p class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code">Shahid’s son <strong><a href="https://www.jaguars.com/team/front-office-roster/tony-khan">Tony Khan</a></strong> serves as Fulham’s Co-Owner and Vice-Chairman, but he’s anything but a trust fund kid. Tony’s passion for sport includes Pro-Wrestling, growing up on WCW and WWF in the attitude era, one of the most iconic times to be a wrestling fan. He created his promotion in 2019: All Elite Wrestling which airs on TNT and FiteTV. At Fulham, he is the Director of Football operations and is responsible for all scouting and player personnel that walk the halls of Craven Cottage.</p>

Fulham’s Path to the Premiership

Since Khan’s takeover in West London, Fulham has had their hardships but hope to be trending in the right direction as the season gathers speed this fall. In the first year under the American businessman’s leadership, the Cottagers finished 19th in the EPL during the 2013-14 campaign, a mark equaled in the 2018-19 season as well.

Last season Fulham recorded 23 wins and 11 losses along with 12 draws, good enough for fourth in the Championship, and advancing to the League play-offs. In the Finals, they faced a tremendous foe in the Bees from Brentford. After 90 minutes the score was level at nil-nil. It would take two goals from Englishman Joe Bryan to secure the victory. Bryan had only scored one goal in the entire season previous to the championship game. Finishing with a score of 2-1 Fulham was on their way back to England’s top division.

The Squad

The 2020-2021 Fulham squad should be stronger than the last team that made it a couple of seasons ago but will still need to be in the top form most of the year if they have any chance of escaping relegation in this campaign.

Most of the previous contributors remain on the club, including Tim Ream, Marek Rodak, and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Tim Ream is one of a long line of Americans who have had success for the Fulham squad. Clint Dempsey and Brian McBride all-time National team greats for the Americans also made the fan list for the top starting 11 in the 21st century. Ream has been a constant fixture in defense for the last five seasons, starting in 169 of the 178 contests he’s been in.

Marek Rodak was a solid Goalie from Slovakia last year for the club, but he will need to be nearly perfect to stop the best international strikers that make up a stacked Premier League. In 33 appearances he allowed 33 scores with 14 clean sheets. The manager Scott Parker will be keeping a close eye on Rodak to see if he can cut it or if the newly acquired PSG goalie Alphonse Areola will overtake him sooner rather than later.

Arguably the most important piece for the lineup is the continued form of Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. With 26 goals last year Mitrovic has the talent to keep Fulham in most contests, but a 20 goal season against the back-lines of Liverpool, Man City, and Man United should prove more difficult.

5 Storylines to Watch for the Return of the Premier League

It has been three months since the last match was played and even the most loyal of Premier League fans may have forgotten some of the main plot points of this season. Here are the top five reasons to watch the remaining fixtures of the 2019-2020 season.

5 Storylines to Watch When the Premier League Returns

1. Does the season finish?

While the first three weeks of action between clubs have been announced, there is no guarantee all 92 lingering matches will be played. Every indication is the players, owners and the fans desire a season completed with no asterisks. The first three weeks of action have been all but guaranteed, with dates, times, and venues all announced. After that, everything will have to be played by ear.

If players, managers, and training staff remain healthy the Premier League should wrap up without issue. It’s unknown the status of the remaining fixtures if there is a secondary spike in cases in the UK or worse infections happen to members of clubs. The worst-case scenarios must be playing out in everyone’s heads. Let’s hope this becomes a very under the radar story-line, one forgotten after a couple of weeks.

2. Liverpool Finally Receives Their Trophy

Despite nearly two full years of dominance, Liverpool still has one goal to check off their nearly immaculate squad resume. During the 2018-2019 campaign, they accrued 97 points suffering only one defeat to the eventual victors, Manchester City. Since that time Liverpool has shockingly upped its form, winning all but two games in this year’s elongated season. Their lead in the table is an awe-inspiring 25 points. For reference, Aston Villa is sitting in 19th place with 25 points total. In 29 matches Liverpool has allowed only 21 goals, thanks in large part to Virgil van Dijk’s presence and the native Brazilian Allison’s 10 clean sheets.

3. Who is the Last Team to Escape Relegation?

In most years with a runaway champion, the next most competitive race is the fight at the bottom. West Ham, Watford, and Bournemouth all sit at 27 points and are tied for the final relegation spot with Aston Villa and Brighton just above or below that mark. All teams will have to play with the utmost form to secure their position in next season’s premiership. Most matches will be featuring top-half opponents. Brighton has the inside track to escape, with only a minus eight-goal differential despite only winning six of their 29 matches.

4. Who Wins the EA Player of the Season?

The Premier League’s version of the MVP award is hotly contested this year. Scoring, as always, is valued very highly in England’s top football division. Jaimie Vardy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sergio Agüero, and Mohamed Salah round out the most likely strikers to win based on total goals scored. If the voters are split between the deep field of worthy forwards, it’s very likely a Liverpool player snatches up the award right under their noses. Virgil van Dijk is the most likely of the Reds to win from a dark horse position.

5. Can Sheffield United Qualify for the Champions League

Sheffield United has been playing professional football since 1892. They have only been in the Premier League for a total of four seasons, including this year. The Blades returned to the Premier League for the first time since 2007; eager to change their fortunes. Sheffield had unbelievable momentum before COVID forced lock-downs, winning three of their last four matches and drawing the other.

Their team has no true superstar, no player has more than five goals. They are captained by the veteran forward Billy Sharp, featuring a stout defense only allowing 25 goals. That’s less than a handful more than top squad Liverpool. The anchor of the Blades is keeper Dean Henderson. On loan from Manchester United, the 23-year-old is tied for second in the league with 10 clean sheets.

Sheffield is five points from the club’s first-ever Champions League appearance and only two away from the Europa League consolation prize. If Sheffield has any hope of securing international competition, Christopher John Wilder will have to manage the club through a difficult last 11 matches. Seven of the remaining fixtures are against opponents in the top half of the table.