The busy run of games continues for Neil Harris’ Lions following the weekend defeat at West Bromwich Albion as they prepare to face Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham side on Tuesday night (kick-off 7.45pm) in the Carabao Cup Third Round.
The all-London clash sees Fulham visit The Den on the back of a 1-1 Premier League draw at Craven Cottage against Watford, a result which sees them sit 15th in the top flight. The Lions are looking to respond from the past week in the Sky Bet Championship, suffering away losses at Queens Park Rangers and Darren Moore’s West Brom.
Founded 139 years ago, South-West Londoners Fulham have been members of the English League since its inception. The club have spent the majority of their existence in the top two divisions, although have experienced spells at all four levels of the League pyramid.
The club made their Premier League return in the summer after a four-year stint in the Championship – The Cottagers had previously been in the top flight for 13 years, during which time they enjoyed European football on three occasions. They even reached the Europa League Final in 2010 following a memorable run, famously leaving Juventus in their wake with an iconic comeback at Craven Cottage.
Fulham’s recent years in the Premier League saw them peak in seventh place under Roy Hodgson, continuing momentum from their ‘great escape’ under the former England boss the previous season. After a season of uncertainty and a trio of different managers finished in relegation in 2014, Fulham initially struggled to adapt to the second tier, but have assembled a young and shrewd squad to earn promotion and compete further.
Last season was Fulham’s third promotion into the top flight, alongside their triumphs of 1959 and 2001. The club reached their sole FA Cup Final in 1975 against West Ham United, and won the UEFA Intertoto Cup along with Malaga and Stuttgart in 2002.
Ones to Watch
Ryan Sessegnon (3) has been a name on the lips of football fans around the world in the last two years. Having only turned 18 in May, the two-time PFA Team of the Year representative is remarkably already approaching 100 senior appearances for Fulham, and has scored 23 goals from a wide-left berth. Originally a left-back, the teenager found form in a role further forward particularly in his more recent months at Fulham, topping the team’s scoring chart last season with 16 strikes. With all eyes on him last campaign, Sessegnon consistently delivered with displays belying his tender years contributing to promotion, and has broken several records including becoming the first 2000-born player to score in the English leagues in August 2016. Inevitably involved in England talk despite his age, the dynamic wide man made his U21 debut this year, and twin brother Steven is also a prospect in the Fulham squad.
Jean Michael Seri (24) was brought in by Jokanovic in the summer for a large sum after impressing for Nice as they secured a top-eight finish in Ligue 1. The central midfielder can be deployed as a deep-lying playmaker, possessing a great passing range and keen eye for a shot from distance. An Ivory Coast international since 2015, the 27-year-old is enjoying his first experience of the Premier League and had previously been linked with the likes of Barcelona, Arsenal and Manchester United following his remarkable displays in France. Seri began his senior career in his homeland with ASEC Mimosas, and established himself in Europe with Portuguese outfit Pacos de Ferreira. Joining Nice in 2015, the diminutive midfield man made the Ligue 1 Team of the Year in 2017. Although not in the squad for Fulham’s Second Round victory over Exeter City, he could be drafted in tonight for a tough battle against The Lions.
Aboubakar Kamara (47) could continue to be a key player for The Cottagers in this competition after firing both goals in their 2-0 Exeter win. Affectionately known as ‘AK47’, the forward signed for Fulham in the summer of 2017, scoring seven goals last season whilst competing for a place with the likes of wide men Sessegnon and Neeskens Kebano, and the team’s centre-forwards. A graduate of the Monaco academy, Kamara made two first-team appearances for the club before a stint in Belgium with Kortrijk and a successful period with Amiens. Still only 23, this is Kamara’s first opportunity in a Premier League squad – something he is pushing for with his Carabao Cup form.
Aleksandar Mitrovic (9) has been on fire in the early stages of this season. Originally signing on loan from Newcastle United last year, the Serbian scored 12 goals in 17 Championship appearances and is currently the joint-top scorer in the Premier League with five in six games. His prolific record for Fulham has been matched for notable previous clubs Partizan Belgrade and Anderlecht, and attracted the attention of Newcastle in 2015, for whom he scored 17 goals. Tall, strong and imposing – despite a temperamental discipline which has recently been curbed – Mitrovic is one of the country’s most in-form strikers and has been considered a real coup for Fulham having signed his permanent deal. Likely to start among the substitutes at The Den, the 24-year-old already has 42 Serbia caps, scoring 19 goals and becoming the nation’s biggest threat going forward.
In the Dugout
Slavisa Jokanovic has undoubtedly earned his stripes both as a manager and a player. The 50-year-old triumphed emphatically in his first job at Partizan Belgrade, winning the domestic double in each of his two full seasons in charge. He then led Muangthong United to an unbeaten season as they lifted their third Thai Premier League trophy in 2012, and won promotion in his sole season at Watford – his first English football experience – in 2015, following spells in Bulgaria and Spain. A short stint in Israel was then followed by his appointment at Fulham in 2015, where he secured his second Championship promotion and oversaw the impressive strengthening of the Cottagers’ squad over the summer. A former midfielder, Jokanovic represented numerous clubs including a spell at Chelsea in the early 2000s, as well as obtaining 64 Yugoslavia caps.