Over the course of the eight seasons Fulham has been in the Premier League there has been one constant problem, winning on the road. During last season's club best 7th place finish, the Cottagers won only three times on its travels. On Saturday, Fulham went against the trends of years past and opened up the season with a nice 1-0 road win at Fratton Park to give the club the kind of start in league play and on the road we were all hoping for.
It was just 15 months ago at Fratton Park where the Cottagers pulled off the great escape to narrowly avoid relegation. Since that glorious May afternoon on England's south coast, Fulham has not looked back and has gone on to achieve things that were previously not imaginable.
While I could write blog after blog about Fulham's improbable turnaround, I will save that for another day and instead focus on the here and now of the Cottagers opening win over Portsmouth.
By all accounts, the win on Saturday was not the prettiest, but never the less, a win is a win and three points are three points no matter what way you slice it.
Fulham's lone goal came through Bobby Zamora who deflected Clint Dempsey shot into goal to give the Cottagers a lead they would not relinquish.
Defensively Fulham was strong. Portsmouth rarely put any pressure on the Cottagers defense and in turn rarely tested keeper Mark Schwarzer. Portsmouth may be a team heading in the opposite direction to Fulham, but if the Cottagers can continue to play well defensively as they did last season, it will go a long way in determining how this team will finish come May.
Fulham now must quickly refocus and prepare for Thursday's Europa League playoff tie with Amkar Perm. Having seen the Russian team play on tv a week ago, I can't say I was overly impressed with the team. Not to say that one performance can tell you the whole story of a team, but I do feel Fulham has a good chance to win this home and home tie and advance to the group stage of the Europa League.
Thursday's match will be at Craven Cottage so it will be vitally important to get off to a good start and win the match before heading to Russia a week later for the return leg.
Overally, the 2009-2010 season has begun well for Fulham. The Cottagers next league match is a big one against Chelsea for neighborhood bragging rights at Craven Cottage. The Cottagers have played Chelsea well the last few seasons and will be looking for another good performance against the Blues on Sunday. Anything is possible in this southwest London derby.