Relegation can be a part of football that has more to it than meets the eye. The Premier League over the past few years has changed the perspective of relegation, from it showing generally low quality sides, to producing sides with some stand out players. From Idrissa Gueye shining in a poor Aston Villa side, to Gini Wijnaldum leaving relegated Newcastle and having a huge impact on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Even Huddersfield, one of the worst sides in the history of the league have Philip Billing and Karlem Grant present themselves very well. While teams can perform poorly, they can have players that are too good to face the drop.
Speaking of teams performing poorly, this brings us onto Fulham. After spending a lot of money on talent across the continent, the Cottages have had a real poor season. The team was full of good players, but they couldn’t form a team. Having 3 different managers through out the season did not help the situation. A lack of consistency can sum up their season, constantly changing their goalkeeper, the midfielders and their wide talent. They have had some good performers this season too. Aleksandar Mitrovic has had a very good season, scoring 11 and putting up some very good shot numbers. Ryan Babel arrived in January, and was there to add some goals from outwide to at least give them a fighting chance. He did manage 8 goal contributions in 14 games, a decent return considering the team were struggling for goals when he arrived. These are some of the business this season that has actually worked out well, but a majority of their other business did not turn out well. Andre Schurrle continued his reputation of wasting good chances. Seri’s chance creation was good, but offered little to zero defensive protection, completely unbalancing the midfield, and one of those struggling midfielders is the player we will be discussing today, being André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
The Cameroon international arrived right at the end of the summer transfer window, for a reasonable sum of £22.5m. He was actually a player I spoke of highly in the summer, with the midfielder being my first choice to solve Arsenal’s midfield. His physicality, agility and aggression made him the boost that they needed. He was arguably Fulham’s best signing of their luxurious window, but suffered thanks to Seri’s lack of defensive work. While his 3.6 tackles and interceptions are pretty solid, he was still beaten a lot, because he was the only line of defence. It blows me away why the spent so much on Seri when Anguissa can do what he can do, but better. His chance creation isn’t nearly as high as his Ivorian teammate, but he has shown that he is still a very good passer. In their most recent game against Cardiff, he touched the ball 114 times and completed 94 passes, the most in the game. He helps keep hold off the ball and is very good dribbler. He’s actually been one of the best dribblers in the league this season. He’s joint 10th with Aaron Wan-Bissaka with 1.8 dribbles per game, and is completing more than Paul Pogba and Son Heung-Min. He’s a player who is great at winning the ball, but also has enough ability on the ball to have an impact in possession heavy sides. Fulham wanted to play a more attractive style of football this season, but as that dream seemed to be impossible as the games were piling on, Anguissa seemed to be the only midfielder who remained just as useful, unlike some of his teammates.
When comparing his numbers from his time in France to Fulham, they’re remain consistent. His defensive numbers have only dropped slightly, with his tackles and interceptions going from 4 to 3.7, but it’s nothing to be concerned about. What’s more worrying to me is his dribbling. Completing 1.8 dribbles per game is very impressive, and it is identical to how many he was completing for Marseille. The issue is he’s getting fouled less and dispossessed more, with The midfielder losing the ball 1.9 times this season, to compared to 1.1 last season. He’s getting dispossessed way easier, and it could be a lack of confidence. With Anguissa getting fouled less this season, it seems his desire to drive the ball up the pitch has diminished slightly. It’s as if he is taking the easy way out, instead of fighting to keep hold of it. I do believe this would change if he was playing for a better side, but it was still an area that needed addressing.
The likelinesss of Fulham keeping hold of all of their summer business seems incredibly unlikely. Seri seemingly has one foot out of the door, and it’s understandable. Sergio Rico is going back to Sevilla, and the chances of Andre Schurrle taking a step down is next to impossible. I think Anguissa is in the same boat, but hasn’t painted himself is nearly as bad a light as his teammates. There was a reason why I thought a top 6 club should sign him, and he hasn’t done anything to change my mind on that stance. He is an aggressive midfielder, with a good ability on the ball and fantastic at moving his side up the pitch. If I was one of Manchester United or Arsenal, I would consider him, but if I was Tottenham, he should be a must signing this summer.