By 90Min
September 22, 2017

Sitting 14th in the Championship table, Fulham will know that a win against seventh placed Middlesbrough on Saturday will be vital yet extremely tough, but with four points between the two sides before kickoff it could indeed go either way down by the river.

Falling to a deflating 2-1 defeat against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium last Saturday, Slavisa Jokanovic's men would have presumably sobered up over the course of the week and should be raring to right a few wrongs - particularly in the shooting department, where goals have been few and far between, with opportunities being scuppered much too regularly for any Fulham fan's liking.

Sheyi Ojo was agonisingly unlucky against the Brewers, his goal-bound effort rattling off the bar more or less summed up Fulham's day - close, but no cigar. Hitting the side netting and members of the spectating crowd in the face is also becoming a very unwelcome weekly occurrence, especially with the money that we've invested into our attacking armoury over the summer. So, if anything is imperative, we must find the back of that net much more frequently to justify our spending, as blatantly obvious and frustrating as that may sound.

Rui Fonte gave us a glimmer of his prowess in-front of the target against Ipswich Town, although with the Portuguese striker missing our encounter with Burton, 'Slav' ultimately missed his influence in-front of the target. 

It's likely that the 27-year-old will return, though, which is promising as he'll instil a sense of threat in our offensive play, something which Aboubakar 'AK47' Kamara has failed to achieve in his outings thus far, even with a trying, determined attitude on the pitch.

As always, we have no real trouble in creating our somewhat wasted chances. Sculpting our way through the opponent's formation, we're blessed with an abundance of wily, intelligent play-makers behind our strikers, but that all counts for nothing if the ball fails to whistle between the posts, so scoring freely - as we expertly did last term - needs to prevail without compromise. 

Yes, there's still no foretelling sign of Tom Cairney's reemergence in the starting XI, a metronome in the centre of the park which the Whites have been pining for, though we do have the likes of Ryan Sessegnon, Stefan Johansen, Neeskens Kebano and Yohan Mollo at our disposal, so there's certainly more than enough supply and ammunition.

But, as much as scoring is an ever constant factor to which we must master once more, defending is also an area which hampers our performances, and gifting the opposition the right to score soft, sloppy goals has to be stamped out of our game, starting against Garry Monk's men.

Harry Hubbard/GettyImages

Burton's first goal of the day last Saturday was a sheer shambles, a calamitous melee of white shirts sat on their backsides in the box as they scrambled to stunt the cross into the danger area. Stephen Warnock was left in a world of his own at the back stick with the time to nominate his spot, before clinically and ruthlessly dispatching his effort past a hapless David Button.

If we are to continue to win more than one game on the bounce, we have to gather an element of order and structure in our back four, especially when we're caught on the break. Someone has to take charge and rally the troops.

The penalty which was awarded against us was questionable to say the least, but once again the point still stands that we must remain vigilant and disciplined within our own 18-yard box. The slightest contact or the most minuscule inkling of obstruction usually amounts to penalisation, so we must pick and choose our attempts to disposes the opponent without a shadow of doubt or irrationality.

Martin Braithwaite and Rudy Gestede are possibly missing from the Teesiders' fold, and with Adama Traore serving a suspension, you could be fooled into believing that Boro are lacking their brightest and most clinical threats, but that's simply not the case and Fulham will need to keep their eyes open and their feet firmly planted on the turf in every sector, if they're going to thwart their telling, relentless advances.

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