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The second West London Derby in a week. And will it be two out of two for the Bees in April as they travel to Craven Cottage to take on playoff-chasing Fulham? Billy Grant caught up with Andrew Beck from Cottagers Confidential (@CottagersC) to get a lowdown on Fulham’s promotion campaign. 

Fulham have had a good season. Your manager Slaviša Jokanović is decent. He got Watford to play great football when he managed them a few seasons ago – the season they got promoted – and he’s got you playing good football. Watford allegedly refused to pay him £2m a year after he got them promoted hence the reason why he left. His loss is your gain yeah?

Slavisa has been pretty amazing. Some credit has to be given to the recruitment process as there were times this season where 10 of the 11 players were not in the squad last year. That being said, he’s done an amazing job of setting things up. Fulham have a specific style that they play for the first time in a long time. More importantly, Slavisa has been very good at making adjustments. Early in the year, the team struggled with teams that would bunker. He made small changes like swapping in a more creative midfielder in the double pivot to address this. He also took a while to figure out what his best defensive lineup was. You can see this in the results the club has managed, as they’ve gotten better the longer the year has gone. I’m not sure why Watford didn’t keep him. It’s definitely been Fulham’s gain, because you can tell he is itching to prove himself in the premier league.

Goal, goals, goals, goals. Fulham have scored 82 and Brentford – 73. However, the Bees have scored the most goals in the league in 2017 – 44- with Fulham not far behind on 42. Who are the danger men we should be looking out for?

The scary thing about Fulham is there really isn’t one or two danger guys you need to stop. Last year, Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele scored all the goals. This year the team has 3 guys with 10 or more goals, and 8 guys with 5 or more. Fulham’s fullbacks have scored 13 goals. The defensive midfield pair have combined for 14. It’s not just goal scoring they spread around either. Fulham could realistically end the year with 4 different players who have double digit goals and assists. The team has 5 players with at least 5 assists already. Goals and chances can really come from anywhere. But if there is one guy you have to shut down, it’s Tom Cairney. Many teams have tried (kicking him a lot seems to be the prefered strategy), but most have failed. And if you devote to much effort to stop him, someone else is likely to step up and beat you.

Fulham beat Brentford 2-0 in November. Dare we say it, Fulham looked decent in that match and quite a few Bees (including me) tipped them for playoffs. What has been your best performance of the season?

There have been quite a few. Both of the games against Huddersfield (5-0 and 4-1) the team looked great. The 5-0 drubbing of Reading wasn’t even as close as the scoreline indicated. There was the domination of Hull in the FA Cup. But the best result was probably the 3-1 defeat of Newcastle at St. James’ Park. That really cemented the notion to most of the fans that Fulham is just as good as any of the top teams in the division.

David Button jumped ship at the start of the season. Shame coz we liked Button but his wage demands were too high for us so we brought in Bentley which then forced the move. How has he been playing for you?

Button has had some moments, but he’s also had some bad games. At the beginning of the season it was certain whether it would be Button or a younger academy product who would be the number one keeper. Button took the job, but after a particularly poor game against Derby County at the beginning of April, Marcus Bettinelli took over and hasn’t given up the job yet. He’s started four games in a row, all have been won by Fulham. I don’t expect to see Button for the rest of the year.

The playoff race is pretty tight. You really need a result against Brentford to ensure you don’t have squeaky bum time the following Saturday against Wednesday. How do you think you will fare?

A result against Brentford would make that last game of the season much easier to deal with. Of course a Leeds loss also puts Fulham in. I’d like to think Fulham do well here. Fulham have been a great team at home and Brentford isn’t as good away as they are at home. Fulham are going to keep the ball away from you (they lead the league in possession and pass completion).

The way to unlock Fulham are to hit them with quick counters and beat them on set pieces, which don’t appear to be Brentford’s strengths (I’m saying nothing – Ed). I’m not sure that your defense can handle defending an unrelenting wave of attack for 90 minutes. I think Fulham score multiple goals, and probably give one back when they start defending late.

Score prediction?

I’ll say 3-1 Fulham.

Billy Grant