My last game in London was today’s match-up at Craven Cottage between Fulham and Man City. My wife and daughter had never been to a Premier League match, so I thought that the small ground and full capacity would provide an atmosphere that they would enjoy.
They witnessed a great Fulham comeback, four goals and both sets of fans doing the Poznan!
If you have never been to Craven Cottage it should be on your wish list. Yes the Emirates is much nicer, but it has no atmosphere. Stamford Bridge had some atmosphere, but a lot of the seats are a long way from the pitch. That is not the case at Fulham, where the two main stands have maybe 26 rows each. So you are right on top of the action.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Mancini had all his City stars playing. Silva, Nasri, Dzeko and Aguero were all in the starting line-up.
Lots of class and in the first half City had Fulham chasing shadows. It was no surprise when Aguero gave City the lead on 18 minutes. Barry passed to Silva on the edge of the box, and his flick sent in Aguero who made no mistake.
The City goal gave me my first opportunity to see the City fans do the Poznan, which is quite a sight to behold.
Fulham’s goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer then made to good saves to keep Fulham in the match. First he tipped Clichy’s shot round the post soon afterwards and then he made an even better stop to deny Dzeko’s header from Aguero’s cross.
When Man City scored 12 seconds into the second half the match seemed over. It was route one stuff from City. Clichy’s long diagonal pass was nodded down by Dzeko and Aguero took one touch before firing across Schwarzer into the bottom corner. Great finish from Aguero who must be the signing of the summer.
Then, seemingly from out of nothing, Fulham burst into life.
Zamora was given too much room as he was found by Dempsey on the edge of the box, and he turned and smashed the ball into the top corner of the goal. A terrific goal.
That goal seemed to waken up the Fulham players and fans and suddenly Joe Hart twice had to make really good saves. First, he was at full stretch to tip Moussa Dembele’s shot round the post and then he stopped Dempsey’s header from a corner.
With Fulham on the attack, Mancini went back to his defensive roots and took off Silve and put on Zabaleta, giving City five along the back. The substitution was greeted by chants of “Boring City’ from the Fulahm fans.
The change did not work as six minutes later Fulham were level. Zamora laid the ball off to Murphy and his shot was deflected in-off Kompany. Craven Cottage was roaring as the Fulham fans did their version of the Poznan as the City fans fell silent, gobsmacked at what they were seeing.
It was a great result for Fulham, one that could be a springboard for their season. For Man City it was a terrible result. Teams with title ambitions do not throw away two goal leads. What surprised me the most about Man City’s second half performance was the lack of leadership on the pitch. Nobody wanted to take charge and lead the team when things started to become difficult. Maybe that is a consequence of city’s buying spree. They can buy the best players in the world, but that doesn’t mean that they are building a team.
All in all, this was the best game I saw in London. Best atmosphere, four goal and a lot of passion. What more could you ask for?