Fulham’s last Premier League campaign ended in abject failure as the Whites were relegated at the first time of asking, and one reason for that was undoubtedly their lack of quality in the midfield.
Jean Michael Seri and Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa were named amongst the worst signings of the season at the end of that campaign, while Tom Cairney’s Championship form didn’t carry through as many would have hoped as he scored just one goal and contributed one assist.
Luckily, that may not be such an issue this time around.
Anguissa looks like a new man fresh from his loan spell with Villarreal that caught Real Madrid’s attention, while the deadline day addition of Ruben Loftus-Cheek could add something that Fulham have missed for almost a decade.
Indeed, nobody has come close to matching what Mousa Dembele brought to Fulham’s midfield in the eight years since he joined Tottenham, but Loftus-Cheek could finally bring what Dembele once did.
There are obvious physical similarities between the pair with both Loftus-Cheek and Dembele being stocky and imposing midfielders, but their statistical makeup is also alarmingly similar.
Despite Dembele being considered as one of the league’s best dribblers during his stay in England, the Chelsea man may actually be a better ball carrier, averaging more dribbles per game than the left-footer did in his final season at Fulham.
The Belgian just about edges the key passes and shots on goal statistics, but that is to be expected as he was still transitioning from being a striker, appearing often as a second striker or a number 10, while his younger counterpart was playing a deeper role for Palace.
Despite Dembele having more key passes and shots, Loftus-Cheek was actually more productive, having more goal contributions during the two seasons we’re comparing.
The one startling difference is the pair’s defensive output, with Dembele averaging over three tackles per game during that season at Fulham, while the England international averaged less than 1, but with Harrison Reed and Anguissa likely to have more defensive responsibility than Danny Murphy did back in the day, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Fingers crossed Loftus-Cheek can be just as good as Dembele was for Fulham.