The wingers in Marco Silva’s side are pivotal to how Fulham play, but who exactly is there best in that role?

Fulham have made a good start to life back in the Premier League after 2 draws in their first two games, with the most impressive coming against league heavyweights Liverpool.

Aleksandar Mitrovic has been the man in the headlines so far, with a very impressive performance against Liverpool, scoring 2 goals. He could have added another goal to his tally if Jose Sa had not saved his penalty on Saturday.

However, you cannot always rely on your star striker to do all the hard work. This is why Marco Silva likes to have an abundance of quality wingers, to create chances for his strikers whilst working hard defensively when needed.

Silva’s Wingers

Silva has opted for Bobby Decordova-Reid and Neeskens Kebano as his two wingers in the first couple of games, two players he could always trust in the championship.

Harry Wilson, currently out injured, had a fantastic season last year and was a big part of their promotion back to the Premier League, he will surely feature a lot this season too.

Silva had also made a loan move for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Manor Solomon, but after an injury in a behind-closed-doors match, he faces a long stint on the sidelines.

Whilst other wingers include Ivan Cavaleiro and Anthony Knockaert, who is still at the club, both of which are most likely last in the pecking order when all are fit.  

Fulham may still move for another winger after Solomon’s recent injury, but they still have an array of talent out on the flanks. But who is the most important to Fulham’s success?

Harry Wilson

Despite not featuring in the first two games due to his injury, Wilson is arguably one of the most talented in Fulham’s squad.

In 41 games last season, Wilson scored 10 goals and assisted a massive 19, showing the vast creative qualities he brings to this team. As per Infogol, Wilson outperformed his xA (expected assists) by 6.61 which shows the quality of passing and crosses he gives to his teammates.

His ability to cross is massive in a team in which Silva likes his wingers to hug the touchline and with players like Mitrovic in amongst the penalty box, most good crosses are often turned into great chances.

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As per The Analyst, he managed the joint most chances created (102) along with John Swift, whilst creating the most from open play (80). Whilst Soccerment displayed his crossing success ratio at 22.2% from 81 attempted crosses.

The strengths Wilson brings to the team are clear, his passing and crossing ability from both open play and set pieces causes a threat to any side, especially with Mitrovic in the team.

Silva in a recent interview noted the importance of Wilson to his team when talking about when he may return:

"He's a big, big piece for us, what he can give us in certain games, the profile he can give us, completely different things than the others.

He hopes for a return Wilson as soon as possible but expects being fit when the world cup comes around to be more realistic:

"First he is a big miss for us of course. I think (for his chance to make) the World Cup you have to be positive. I think he can help us even before the World Cup to be in the right conditions there but it is something that we are not sure yet."

Wilson is more likely to star for Fulham in the second half of the season but is certain to be a big part of their attempts to stay in the Premier League

Neeskens Kebano

Since joining Fulham from Belgian side Genk in 2016, Kebano has become a fan favourite at the club, consistently putting in solid performances and a player all his managers could trust. Although most of his best work has come in the Championship, the winger has yet to shine in the top division.

As per Infogol, Kebano scored an average rating of 7.25 across his 31 starts and 9 appearances from the bench, showing the Congolese winger regularly performs to a good standard.

The winger scored 9 goals and created 6 in 40 games in the championship last season. Also according to Infogol, Kebano failed to beat his xG (expected goals) by just 1.39 whilst outperforming his xA by 1.42. 15 goal contributions is a solid return but these stats do not do the winger justice.

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Kebano’s ability to carry the ball forward and beat defenders down the left-hand side with pace gives a slightly different option to Wilson who will typically use his technical ability to create crossing opportunities, whilst often coming inside. 

As per Soccerment, Kebano attempted 103 dribbles last season with almost half being successful (48.5%) showing his eagerness to create chances down the wing in this Fulham team. When coupled with his 82.6% pass success (749 passes) and 14.3% cross success (133 crosses), these stats further show his ability to make things happen in Silva’s Fulham side.

Kebano has started the first couple of games this season and will most likely start in their next match against Brentford, with Fulham’s limited numbers on the left after Solomon’s injury.

Fulham’s chances this season?

Fulham clearly has quality wingers at their exposal, technically gifted wingers that play to the strengths of Silva’s system. When all fit, the newly promoted side will not be one to be taken lightly, even with Wilson missing they were still able to pick up an incredible point against Liverpool.

However, doubts lie with whether they can keep this up throughout the whole season, with tough opposition yet to come. Whilst many of their wingers have done their best work in the Championship, can they carry this form into the Premier League?

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Injuries have already been a problem, with Solomon and Wilson out injured for the foreseeable future, so Silva will be hoping no others end up on the treatment table.

But taking away from the negatives, Fulham have still made a good start to the season, with Mitrovic looking like he is finally going to be firing in the Premier League, with the quality Fulham have on the flanks, that looks to be the key to their success.

Fulham take on Brentford at Craven Cottage, this Saturday at 3 pm, with Marco Silva hoping for his first three points of the season.

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