From narrowly avoiding relegation to qualifying for Europe and then reaching the Europa League final, one can never be quite sure what to expect from Fulham. However, having acquired a striker who is a two-time Premier League winner, Fulham’s attack now poses a serious threat to any team, as Arsenal found out at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.
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Since they were promoted after winning the second division title in 2001, the Cottagers have only finished in the top half of the table four times. Louis Saha fired them to the Premier League with 27 goals in the 2000/01 season and would go on to help them achieve a ninth-placed finish in 2004 with 13 goals. The only other player to find the net that many times in a Premier League season for Fulham is their top scorer of the last two seasons Clint Dempsey, who signed for London rivals Tottenham in August. The American forward improved on his 13-goal haul of 2010/11 by scoring 17 league goals last season, prompting strong interest from Liverpool before he ultimately moved to White Hart Lane.
However, Dempsey’s departure does not spell the end for Fulham’s progress under Martin Jol. The Dutch manager brought in Dimitar Berbatov for from Manchester United for an undisclosed fee, with the Bulgarian striker having played under Jol during his time as Spurs manager. The luxurious deadline day signing gained further significance only hours later, with Dempsey’s exit meaning Berbatov would be seen as the solution to their goal-scoring needs.
The personification of composure on a football pitch, Berbatov has so far showed no signs of these expectations affecting his game. He has already scored five goals in seven games for Fulham, taking his total Premier League tally to just 15 shy of 200, a target he could well exceed by the end of this season.
With a player of the quality of Dimitar Berbatov leading the line, there is there no reason why Martin Jol’s side cannot again mount a challenge for a European place.