Premier League preview: Fulham

Enigmatic striker Dimitar Berbatov holds the key to Fulham's survival chances.
Enigmatic striker Dimitar Berbatov holds the key to Fulham's survival chances. Photo: PA

Last season: 12th

It’s all about the small victories for Fulham as they look to maintain their Premier League status with a touch of flair for another season.

To add to their roster of technically gifted footballers, Martin Jol has signed QPR maverick and strop merchant Adel Taarabt on a season-long loan, with the country waiting to see how he will link up with fellow divas Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz.

Jol’s men comfortably survived last season in 12th place, but only managed to muster 43 points, something that will concern the Dutchman, as the Premier League becomes increasingly competitive.

They rely heavily on their one top class player Berbatov, who scored 15 goals for the Craven Cottage outfit, with the Bulgarian at the centre of all the good play the west Londoners produced last season.

If the former Manchester United striker were to get injured, goals could become sparse; last season no other player scored on more than five occasions, which would worry the Fulham faithful.

Fellow forwards Ruiz and Mladen Petric netted 10 between them, and Hugo Rodallega got a pitiful three goals in 33 appearances, which makes it more surprising that Jol is yet to bolster his forward line.

Their new arrivals haven’t turned many heads. There’s been a change in the goalkeeping department following Mark Schwarzer’s release, with Netherlands international Maarten Stekelenburg coming from Roma.

Ahead of the Dutchman, La Liga’s dirtiest ever player Fernando Amorebieta has joined on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao, and midfielder Derek Boateng has also pitched his tent at Craven Cottage.

In recent times Fulham have possessed the quality to keep their head above water, but if they were to get stuck in a rut this year players like Berbatov, Taarabt and Ruiz might not have the attitude to turn things around, meaning a long time looking over their shoulder.

Ins: Maarten Stekelenburg (Roma, £4m), Fernando Amorebieta (Athletic Bilbao, free), Derek Boateng (Dnipro, free), Adel Taarabt (QPR, loan).

Outs: Chris Baird, Simon Davies, Mahamadou Diarra, Thomas Donegan, Corey Gameiro, Georgios Karagkounis, James Musa, Richard Peniket, Mladen Petric, Mark Schwarzer, Alex Smith, Csaba Somogyi (All released), Dan Burn (Birmingham, loan).

Check out the stats on Fulham's Bulgarian maestro from last season.
Check out the stats on Fulham's Bulgarian maestro from last season. Credit: WhoScored.com

One to watch: Fernando Amorebieta. The Venezuelan has rocked up with a reputation of enjoying a foul, having won the title of the worst disciplinary record in La Liga history. In the quicker paced Premier League it will be interesting to see how the player copes, as he is known to take a player down needlessly and ruthlessly.

Something to prove: Hugo Rodallega. Having left Wigan looking for bigger things, the Colombian striker failed to deliver last year thanks to poor form and spending most of the campaign hugging the left touchline instead of playing down the middle.

Predicted finish: 15th

Relegation odds: 4/1

Your view: Are you too reliant on Berba?

M3zv7isx_normal

@itvfootball other strikers? Lol. It's pretty much only Berba as our striker atm, need more in before September

B467167907f6576fa147f983f93391e5_normal

@itvfootball yeah we are. Hopefully Bent can come in and get fit and help out