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Fulham: Raul Jimenez fills Aleksandar Mitrovic void as cheap transfer gamble pays off

West Ham's heaviest defeat under David Moyes; Fulham’s biggest victory since Wednesday.

While his counterpart was left to pick the bones out of his most miserable afternoon of the season so far, Marco Silva explained why this was his favourite of the two 5-0 victories his side had churned out in the space of five days.

“This afternoon was against a team that just came from a win in a derby away from home against Tottenham,” the Fulham boss said. “A team that are doing so well in the Europa League, that has the capacity to buy players for £50million, and not just one.

“No doubts about it, this afternoon was a more complete performance.”

The catalyst for it was Raul Jimenez, whose superb header midway through the first half opened up what had been an even contest until then. It was the kind of finish that was the trademark of a prolific stint at Wolves before the head injury three years ago that threatened to put his career on the rocks.

Since the strike against Aston Villa last month that ended a 33-game drought in the Premier League, it is now four goals in five matches for the Mexican, and Fulham’s cheap summer gamble in the belief the player of old still lies within looks like paying off.

“He has got his confidence back,” Silva said. “The first four or five games of the season, he was giving much more for the team than we were giving for him in terms of providing chances.”

The resurgent Raul Jimenez has scored four goals in his last five outings for Fulham (Action Images via Reuters)
The resurgent Raul Jimenez has scored four goals in his last five outings for Fulham (Action Images via Reuters)

Jimenez’s upturn has coincided with a collective skyrocketing in terms of goals, Silva’s men having scored 16 times in four matches since the international break, compared with just 10 in their first 12 of the campaign.

In the immediate aftermath of Aleksandr Mitrovic’s summer departure to the Saudi Pro League, the Serbian’s absence could hardly have been more keenly felt, but with his team suddenly free-scoring, Silva believes Fulham can at last move on from their talisman.

“Mitrovic was a top player for this football club,” the Portuguese said. “I love him and I will keep a relationship with him for all my life. But now is the moment to stop talking about him, because he is not here any more.

“Not just myself, but the players, everybody at this football club, the fans as well, they have to support the players that are here. They have to keep the faith in the players that are here, because they are fighting for this shirt.”

Here, to a man, they were outstanding, a fluid cast rotating around Jimenez, unleashed by the security of Joao Palhinha on patrol at the base of midfield.

"He has got his confidence back"

Marco Silva on Raul Jimenez

Willian doubled the lead before Tosin Adarabioyo powered in from a corner, with Harry Wilson’s stunner and Carlos Vinicius’s late tap-in making it five unique scorers on the day.

In all, nine different players have bagged in Fulham’s last three Premier League games alone, a boon for Silva, for all he insists the idea that his team were ever over-reliant on Mitrovic is a myth.

“In the Championship we scored 106 and he scored 43, so the others scored more than 50, we spread with other players,” he said. “Last season, he scored 14, we scored I don’t know how many.

“Of course, we have a top goalscorer like every team. If you look at the teams in the Premier League, the top scorer is the main striker, it’s a normal situation.”

With Jimenez beginning to fire, Fulham can once again count themselves part of that club.