The past weekend saw Huddersfield’s relegation finally confirmed, and with Burnley and Southampton both winning, Fulham’s relegation is now purely a matter of when not if. Now 16 points off safety and with just 18 points left to play for and with a vastly inferior goal difference compared to their rivals, their fate is sealed. Nevertheless, their remaining fixtures will still be watched keenly by every other Premier League club, not only because their fixtures against Cardiff City and Newcastle United could help decide the remaining relegation place, but because clubs will be assessing Fulham’s squad as they look to finalise their transfer targets for the Summer.
Aleksandar Mitrovic will be a name on the list of targets for many Premier League clubs. Proven Premier League goalscorers are always highly sought after, and despite playing in a struggling Fulham side who have only scored 29 goals in total, Mitrovic has managed to hit double figures this season. The only other player involved in the relegation battle to do so is Glenn Murray, yet whilst the Brighton and Hove Albion forward is 35 years old, Mitrovic is still only 24, and therefore likely still to have his best years ahead of him. Mitrovic could well spark something of a bidding war this Summer, though unfortunately for any clubs assessing what the right price for the Serbian would be, his Plus Minus ratings are of little use. Mitrovic has been the closest thing Fulham have had to an ever-present this season, with Saturday’s game against Manchester City being the first one he has missed this season. This means that his Plus Minus rating of -41 and his Plus Minus per 90 minutes rating of -1.25 are almost exactly the same as the team average, thus making it almost impossible to assess his individual impact looking at the Plus Minus statistic alone.
Thankfully for the purposes of this blog, the same is not true across the entire Fulham blog, and the Plus Minus statistic is more revealing in the case of their other player most likely to be occupying the minds of recruitment departments throughout the league, Ryan Sessegnon. Sessegnon’s ratings across the whole season do not make for good reading. His overall rating of -34 is the 3rd worst in the squad, whilst his rating per 90 minutes is -1.57, the 2nd lowest of any of the Fulham players to have played more than 1000 minutes in the Premier League this season. It would be fair to say that it has been a tough season of adjustment, which is perhaps unsurprising given that Sessegnon is still only 18. What the clubs monitoring Sessegnon will have hoped to see are signs of improvement as the season has gone on, and that can certainly be seen when his stats are broken down. Across the first 19 games of the season, Sessegnon’s rating per 90 minutes was -1.71, significantly lower than the team average of -1.26 during that period. Since then however his rating per 90 minutes has been -1.24, much closer to the team average over this period of -1.21. These signs of improvement, along with his obvious potential means that Sessegnon will still have plenty of suitors in the Summer, though perhaps not quite the calibre he was linked with prior to Fulham’s promotion last Summer.
If you were looking to sign any member of Fulham’s squad based purely on their Plus Minus ratings, it would be Calum Chambers. Chambers’ rating per 90 minutes of -0.89 is comfortably above the team’s average and is only bettered bu Luciano Vietto. Vietto has only completed a full match 3 times this season though, whilst Chambers has completed the full match in 22 of his 25 appearances. Again, when you investigate the stats further, his impact becomes even clearer. Across those 25 appearances, Fulham have only lost by more than 2 goals once, a 3-0 defeat at home against Manchester United in February. By contrast, of the 7 matches Chambers hasn’t featured in, Fulham have lost by 3 or more goals 6 times.
The situation with Chambers is however complicated by the fact that he is currently on loan from Arsenal and signed a new long-term contract last Summer. Chambers is clearly too god to be restricted to the bit-part role he played for Arsenal during the 2017-18 season, when just half of his 24 appearances were in the Premier League. The question is can Chambers establish himself as a regular at Arsenal, or would he have to go elsewhere to do that? Working in Chambers’ favour is the fact that Sokratis, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Stephan Lichtsteiner are all now in their 30’s, as is Chambers’ versatility, particularly given the fact that Unai Emery has shown a willingness to switch between a back 3 and a back 4 this season. If however Arsenal decide they have better options available, there should be plenty of competition for Chambers’ signature.
Fantasy Premier League Tip – Scott Dann
With Mamadou Sakho set to miss the rest of the season with injury and Roy Hodgson a fan of keeping a settled back four whenever possible, Scott Dann looks great value at £4.4m. Palace have the one of the best defensive records outside of the top 6 and Dann offers an attacking threat from set-pieces with 15 goals and 9 assists in 204 Premier League appearances. Therefore given he has now completed the full match in 3 consecutive matches following his own injury problems, now looks like a good time to bring Dann into your side.