Fulham’s scoring prowess was always going to take a hit after the sale of Aleksandar Mitrovic – and Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea was further evidence they are undercooked in the striking department.
The Whites have scored five goals in their opening seven Premier League matches. By way of contrast, Mitrovic – sold to Al-Hilal for a club record fee in August – had already netted six times at the same stage of last season.
Fulham’s xG (expected goals) is 7.04 with only three clubs posting lower numbers – Forest (6.65), Sheffield United (5.57) and Burnley (5.78).
And the worry is that Marco Silva’s side are not defensively sound enough to be keeping plenty of clean sheets.
Fulham have collected three so far but the 1-0 win at Everton was heavily indebted to German keeper Bernd Leno, such a crucial cog, while the same outcome against Luton at Craven Cottage saw the newly-promoted visitors hit the post.
Fulham’s xGC (expected goals conceded) is 15.3 with only Bournemouth (16.6) and the Blades (17.4) exceeding that.
The lack of serious frontline firepower meant that Chelsea’s quickfire first-half double at Craven Cottage, one of them punishing a defensive lapse by Tim Ream, left them with a mountain to climb.
Sasa Lukic did have a chance to cut the deficit in the closing stages but Robert Sanchez was able to stick out a leg to frustrate the Serbian.
Silva did not want to discuss the tactical issues thrown up by Mitrovic’s exit but neither of his natural centre-forward options – Raul Jimenez and Carlos Vinicius – are prolific.
Jimenez, inset, has an xG of 0.72 from the 509 minutes he has played since signing from Wolves – just two of his 11 efforts on goal hitting the target. His last Premier League strike goal was in the 2021-22 season.
Vinicius has a lower xG (0.56) but has also only played 75 minutes.
Fulham are heavily reliant on Bobby Decordova-Reid, Alex Iwobi, Harry Wilson and Andreas Pereira to help an underwhelming frontline.
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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