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"Summer was a huge missed opportunity" - Fulham vs Luton Town: Opposition View

Premier League game number four is fast-approaching for Rob Edwards and his Luton Town team, with the Hatters still seeking their first point.

Progression has been made throughout the opening three matches, and naturally, the levels of excitement are once again building up for another London away day.

Craven Cottage is the next destination for the Hatters and providing views from a Fulham perspective, Jack Collins of Fulhamish and Russ Goldman of Cottage Talk spoke to ORH...

Q: Given your first four results and the international break, how are you feeling going into this next run of uninterrupted fixtures?

JC: I think the results were at times better than the performances in our first four games, but equally it was an incredibly turbulent time at Fulham and to come out of those four games with four points is a perfectly credible start. These next four games are truly where I think we see if Fulham have regressed from last season or if we can expect more of the same, so it’s a lot of excitement mixed with the feeling of trepidation that if this goes wrong, it could be a long campaign.

Aside from that, the squad feels ok. There’s deep cover at both full back positions, which is crucial to what Marco Silva wants to do, whilst the wing corps of Wilson, Willian, Adama and De Cordova-Reid is more than capable in this division. I think depth needs adding in the midfield, but aside from up top, there’s no gaping holes.

RG: I am feeling very good as having four points from four matches is a decent start, considering two of the matches were on the road against Arsenal and Manchester City. I think there are matches coming up that Fulham should be looking for three points from, including the one on Saturday. I have to say that this match though is a pivotal one for Fulham against Luton Town.

Q: Where do you feel your squad are? Do you feel there is need for more improvement or are you content with it so far?

JC: Fulham’s attack was built around Aleksandar Mitrovic, so to lose him this summer was a massive blow - but to not replace him coherently is an even bigger one. I like Raúl Jimenez, but the fact that he’s not scored in the league in over a year is clearly something that needs to be rectified if he’s going to fill Mitrovic’s boots.

RG: I truly believe that this Summer was a huge missed opportunity to get better. Fulham have brought in quality players that will help, but talent wise I think they are the same as last season overall. They should have bought a first rate striker to replace the loss of Mitro, and they did not do that.

Q: Do you think it’s going to be a long-term positive that Palhinha remained with Fulham, or do you fear it’s inevitable he will leave for a ‘bigger’ club?

JC: It’s an immediate positive, but that doesn’t change the fact that I think he’ll be off either in January or next summer - he deserves that shot at the big time after being undersung for much of his career, both at Sporting and then at Fulham.

The problem is that Fulham haven’t succession planned at all, and it’s left me very worried about the fact that when he’s not on the pitch, we look a completely different team. A smarter club would have picked up a replacement this summer so that he’s had a year (or at least six months) of becoming comfortable when Palhinha eventually moves to greener pastures.

RG: I was totally against the situation at the end of the window which was allowing Palhinha to leave, if Fulham found a suitable replacement. I am glad he is back, and I expect him to be a professional and play for Fulham. He is their best player. I do fear him leaving but he is on a long term contract so unless Fulham can find a player on his level in January, he should not be going anywhere. I do hope the club holds on to him until the summer. Q: Looking at us, do you feel confident of keeping your positive record against the Hatters going this weekend?

JC: I think Luton’s business has been smart this summer, even if it might not be enough to stay up. It’s sensible top-end Championship signings, with a good collective work ethic and players that will love playing under Rob Edwards, like Ryan Giles, who I think is excellent.

It’s obviously not been the start that you would have dreamed of, but in terms of the long-term future of the club, I don’t think it’s the end of the world to have one year up before re-establishing yourself as a top-end Championship side and building from a higher season, with the club planning for a stadium move and all the rest of it. That’s no disrespect either - we had five years of bouncing between the two divisions before we managed to hold on to a second top flight season in a row, but even that was a huge upgrade on the scrap for survival in the Championship which we experienced for the couple of seasons before.

This Fulham side is hard to beat, especially at home, and our record against teams around us last year at the Cottage was remarkably good, so I expect us to go out and put on a performance here to move on from the turmoil of the summer.

RG: I think Fulham should be favoured to win the match, but I have much respect for Luton Town, and I know this will not be an easy match.

Q: Who are the players us Hatters should be worried about facing in this fixture?

JC: Raúl might not have scored for a year in the Premier League, but he did strike three times in two games for Mexico on international duty, and I think his first goal isn’t miles off. Antonee Robinson is a pure headache for any right back on the right hand side, and Willian cutting inside him could be a problem for Reece Burke in that channel - the Brazilian hasn’t looked great this season so far, but a couple of weeks in this ‘second pre-season’ might just have him firing again.

RG: I think you have to start with Palhinha as he is a special player. If he is playing at his level, Fulham will be hard to beat at Craven Cottage. Also, Fulham have a world class goalkeeper in Bernd Leno who will keep the team in most matches. The wild card for me is Raul Jimenez who I think is close to scoring goals.

Q: On the other side of it, what Luton players do you predict to stand out?

JC: It’s good to see Elijah Adebayo playing in the Premier League. I watched a lot of him at youth level, and there was clearly a player there, so to see him making the jumps up through the pyramid has been something I’ve enjoyed. As mentioned, I love Ryan Giles, but he’ll have a tough ask of it against Kenny Tete, who I genuinely think might be the best defensive right back in the division. I’ve always liked how busy Marvelous Nakamba is, so I’m fascinated to watch his dynamo duel with Harrison Reed, and it would be great to see Cauley get onto the pitch - he was a real gentleman in his time at the Cottage.

RG: The players I fear are Elijah Adebayo, who is a former Fulham youth player, and Carlton Morris. I think both could test our defence. Q: What is your score prediction?

JC: I’m going to be optimistic, which is rare as a Fulham fan, and say 2-0 to the Whites.

RG: I am going for a tight 2-1 win for Fulham, but it won't be easy against Luton Town.

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