Forget Manchester United’s woes and TikTok videos, Fulham’s win was all about Alex Iwobi and Calvin Bassey

4 min

While a Bruno Fernandes TikTok video and Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United’s woes continue to take centre stage, there’s so much more to take away from Fulham’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

Little credit has been given to the Cottagers for their resilient and dogged display, or the performances of match-winner Alex Iwobi and fellow goalscorer Calvin Bassey.

The win was the first match in which the pair were able to return to the Fulham starting line-up following their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) exploits for Nigeria and neither disappointed, once again underlining their value to Marco Silva’s side.

In games where the pair start, Fulham have a 46% win rate in comparison to 29% without the duo with their AFCON absence seeing the side pick up just two wins out of eight in all competitions.

Iwobi’s flexibility across the midfield can be both a gift and a curse – the latter as the 27-year-old faced the wrath of Nigerian fans following their 2-1 AFCON Final defeat to the Ivory Coast, being blamed for not creating enough chances in a deeper-lying defensive role.

Against Manchester United, Iwobi was back to his turbo-charged best on the left-side of midfield, showing he has greater impact when in attacking mode and running at defenders as he terrorised Manchester United’s right-back Diogo Dalot throughout.

Iwobi has chances, as he did at Old Trafford, that he still can do better with but his energy and positivity always provides Fulham with a legitimate outlet to make things happen in the final third with his winner testament to that.

“He (Alex Iwobi) was a big miss at AFCON, as was (Calvin) Bassey,” Fulham season ticket holder Matt Wall told London Football Scene post-match.

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“We have lots of neat players – Willian, Harry Wilson, Bobby De Cordova-Reid, but he’s someone who roams more than most and is the only winger we have who can run at people and beat them.

“Sure, his end product is limited and he’s panicky in front of goal but he’s a popular, creative player and that’s what we missed the most.”

Since joining from Ajax in the summer, Calvin Bassey has been equally impressive with only early season injuries frustratingly holding his Craven Cottage development back so far.

The 24-year-old brings an air of cool and composed confidence to the defence and with Tosin Adarabioyo expected to leave in the summer, represents the future of Fulham’s backline.

Granted, Bassey and Fulham may have benefited from the absence of the injured Rasmus Hojlund with his replacement, Marcus Rashford, doing little to threaten Fulham but as the old adage goes, you can only play who is in front of you.

With little pressure on the ball, Bassey was able to demonstrate another impressive attribute – the ability to switch between central defence and left-back to allow Antonee Robinson to push further forward and in turn giving Iwobi the opportunity to cut inside from the left-wing.

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More often than not, Bassey would look to find Iwobi with long but guided passes, and he was further rewarded with his adventurous play by grabbing the opening goal, and his first for the club.

It was a sweet reward for a player whose performances have mostly gone under the radar with the hope that the victory can be a springboard for a strong end to the season which sees both Bassey and Iwobi remain injury-free.

If they can, Fulham go into the 12-game run-in still with an outside chance of reaching Europe in what would undoubtedly be seen as one of the biggest under the radar coups of the season.

Maybe then, and only then, Marco Silva’s men may get some of the headlines and plaudits they rightly deserve…

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