Brentford will take on west London neighbours Fulham in their first game of the Premier League Summer Series on Sunday 23 July.
With a combined 10 goals across both fixtures last season, supporters heading to watch the game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia will be hoping for another entertaining encounter.
We spoke with PA Sport’s Reuben Rosso-Powell to get his thoughts ahead of the pre-season clash in the USA.
How much are Fulham looking forward to being part of the inaugural Premier League Summer Series?
It is a big opportunity for all clubs involved to get minutes into their players’ legs against competitive opposition and that won’t be any different for Fulham.
The club enter this season off the back of a milestone campaign and they will want to keep that momentum ticking against the two other west London clubs and Aston Villa before the season starts.
At the time of speaking, Fulham have had something of a clear out, but only brought in Chris Donnell from Perth Glory, who will link up with the under-21 squad, and re-signed Willian. In which areas do you think they need to strengthen this summer?
The club need to target fresh names in the wide positions to ensure maximum creativity is provided to Aleksandar Mitrovic.
For me, they should be looking at central midfield as well; Joao Palhinha’s debut season could not have gone better and he was vital throughout the 35 league games he featured in. However, I feel the team would drop off without his presence in the middle if he was ever injured and therefore they should opt for a couple of names to contend with him and Harrison Reed, who was one of the most underrated players in the league last season.
Last month, there were reports of Saudi Pro League clubs interested in prising Marco Silva away from west London this summer, though he reportedly shut those down. How important is it for Fulham to keep the Portuguese at the club?
It is integral, I cannot emphasise that enough. Fulham have experimented with different manager profiles in the last six or seven years but, when it comes to Silva, they have really found an identity in a manager who is well connected to the supporters.
It is fair to say Silva is having more success here than any of the other English clubs he previously managed and I can only see Fulham building on their success last year, but that can only happen if he stays in west London and I think the club are aware how much is resting on whether he stays or goes.
For now, I would be confident he remains at Craven Cottage. I think he is aware of how much he is valued and that feeling is certainly reciprocated. You have to question if he’d jeopardise this period of managerial momentum for money.
If you had to single out a Fulham player to keep a close eye on, who would it be and why?
Again, it has got to be Palhinha. It turned out to be such a coup for Fulham to land him last summer. He brings that ruggedness and experience required in the Premier League, but can also match it with bags of technical ability, which makes him the ideal figure in midfield.
He is the type of player who can raise the levels of players around him and I am sure those attributes will be showcased throughout pre-season.
Can you tell us about what Brentford might expect from Fulham’s style of play?
A fluid system that can change into different shapes depending on scenarios around the pitch and who is in possession. This is made possible through the work rate of the players – especially the full-backs who like to create attacking width, which allows the wide players to pick up inside positions.
Fulham’s success last season was also helped through the physicality of the side. I felt they were hard to bully like many maybe expected at the start of the year and that belief they picked up in the early stages was shown in the fast, well-structured football we saw them produce at times.
The teams have two wins each from the last two meetings in all competitions, but what’s your score prediction for this one?
You will not be able to remove me from the fence I am currently sat on. I will go for 2-2.