Fulham travel to Manchester City on Saturday afternoon, hoping to build on their victory over Leicester City earlier in the week.
It was a disciplined and professional performance that managed to dispatch the Foxes on their own turf, and the Cottagers will need to replicate that if they are to have any chance of taking points off Pep Guardiola's City.
Fulham manager Scott Parker addressed the media after the match — here are his most noteworthy quotes, as per the official Fulham website.
On team selection
Factoring in the point of the season that has been reached, as well as the nature of this particular encounter, Parker may well be tempted to rotate in this tie.
The 40-year old certainly feels a degree of obligation to the players that earned the victory in their last outing on Monday evening, but will be shrewd in his selection to ensure the squad remains fresh for the hectic run of games approaching.
“I pick the team that I think will have the best effect on the game and get points from the game," Parker asserted. "We have a winning team that got a good result, so they’ve put themselves in a position to start but I have a group of players here and, with the schedule coming up, I’ll pick the best team available.”
On the captaincy
Designated skipper Tom Cairney was dropped to the bench on Monday, a move which saw the captain's armband handed to defender Joachim Andersen.
A new recruit but, by all accounts, a player that's settled in well at Craven Cottage, Andersen registered a fitting display, leading the team well and helping maintain the solidity of the back line which prevented Leicester from mounting a serious comeback.
On whose arm the armband is placed, though, is not a primary concern for Parker: “I haven’t really thought about the captaincy. Joachim was captain against Leicester, the other players weren’t on the pitch. He’s done a fantastic job, but my main focus is preparing a team for a very tough game.”
On dressing room atmosphere
Parker spoke earlier in the week about the struggles a manager faces when loss after loss do nothing to help the squad's morale. It's one of the great challenges that usually befall a newly promoted side: how to replicate that positive atmosphere that helped the team perform so well in the season prior?
A second victory of the season, though, has provided a much needed lift which the 40-year old hopes will stick with the players going forward.
“Monday’s done a lot for morale," he said. "I harp on about keeping spirits high, we haven’t won many games but when you get a positive results against a tough team it helps. That brings extra confidence and belief, it’s something to build on — not just for Saturday but the remainder of the season.”
On penalty problems
In the end, it was a spot-kick from Ivan Cavaleiro that proved the decisive goal against Leicester — the Portuguese forward showed a great deal of mettle to step up to the mark again having scuffed a penalty against Everton the weekend prior, and made no mistake with this one.
Given two further penalties had been squandered previously — Aleksandar Mitrovic against Sheffield United, and Ademola Lookman at West Ham United — it was a relief to see the latest nestle in the back of the net, and Parker knows his side can ill afford to throw away any more points from 12 yards.
“No doubt penalties have been an issue; if you miss penalties that cost us points, there is something there. It’s an ongoing process to work on and we hope that the hard work will pay off. It was pleasing for that one to hit the back of the net.”
On the game ahead
In a season of surprises, one of the biggest shocks of 2020/21 has been the performance of six-time champions Manchester City. They currently sit in the bottom half of the table having won just four of their opening nine games — though, it must be said, in a table as congested as this, a couple of consecutive victories will lift Guardiola's side considerably.
Parker refuses to read into City's performance so far, focusing instead on the immense amount of quality in the ranks at the Etihad Stadium — the 40-year old knows his players must be prepared, mentally and physically, for one of the most taxing games they will have this campaign.
“We all realise how hard it’ll be. I believe if you go there in the right frame of mind and build your moments you can get a result. I’m positive about it but it’ll be a tough ask. We don’t have any fear; it’s a game we’re looking forward to.”