By Chris Harris

Fulham were seven minutes from a famous triumph at Emirates Stadium on the opening day of the season. Then Robin van Persie netted a penalty, Alex Hleb fired home a winner and the Cottagers left north London empty-handed.

It set the tone for their season. Leads have been earned and lost with alarming regularity, Lawrie Sanchez's reign ended after just eight months and now Roy Hodgson is charged with the task of leading Fulham out of the relegation zone by the end of the campaign. It won't be easy.

The former Switzerland manager has been busy since the transfer window opened and snapped up Marlon King from Watford on Friday afternoon. The chances are more faces will come and go as Hodgson shapes a side for the scrap which lies ahead.

We asked Paul Warburton of the Kensington and Chelsea News for a Fulham perspective ahead of Saturday's London derby against Arsenal. Read on for his views on Sanchez's departure, Hodgson's arrival, the player Fulham have really missed and the areas they desperately need to strengthen.

"I think that very first game at Emirates Stadium was the reason why Fulham are in the state they are in now. I reckon if they had held out for the last 10 minutes it would have been a very different story. As for Sanchez, well, he went 16 games without a win. Admittedly there were a number of draws in amongst that and some fighting performances but not enough points. I suppose the powers that be thought they'd made a mistake, hence the dismissal. They keep surrendering leads as well. It mounts up to 23 points lost when Fulham have scored first and conceded the lead. If they had hung on every time they would be sitting in seventh place."

"Roy Hodgson is very philosophical. A man who uses words like 'idiosyncrasy' and 'mendacious' in press conferences tends to be a bit out of the norm! Obviously they brought in somebody with experience, somebody who they believe has the philosophy to take the club forward. He's only been here a couple of minutes of course and he has already said that this team isn't good enough. I don't think he needs to change too much off the pitch, the infrastructure is sound at Fulham, but confidence is at an all-time low."

"Of Sanchez's new signings, no one has really stood out. I would say Paul Konchesky was the best of them up until mid-December because his performances at left back were everything that Fulham had lacked in the previous seasons in that position. He was consistent, solid and pretty dependable. Then he got sent off and has had a slight blip in form. Playing particularly well in a team in the bottom three, Simon Davies and Antti Niemi have been good."

"For me, Brian McBride has been a huge miss. There are lots of limitations about Brian - at his age he's not the quickest, he will probably accept that he doesn't have that 'European technique' - but when it comes to strength, fearlessness and an ability to head the ball, you probably won't get much better in the Premier League. As for Jimmy Bullard, it's been so long since I saw him that I can't remember what he brought to the team! In all fairness to Fulham, there are not short of midfielders."

"Frankly they need a bit of height in the team. Once you assess the Fulham players they are a really small team. In the Bristol Rovers Cup game a week ago Fulham used 14 players and only three of them were above six foot. Hodgson will be looking for players with a bit of height."

"This is one of their toughest games of the season and they know it. When you're at home you need a certain amount of fearlessness to try and get the goal you want and ask questions of Arsenal. In terms of tactics I expect Hodgson to stick with the 4-4-2 regime that he inherited, he can't do much else. Essentially, what Hodgson has got to say is 'let's have a go at Arsenal' and see what happens because if they sit back then sooner or later Arsenal have enough talent to unlock the door. Konchesky is suspended on Saturday, so straight away Fulham have taken a backwards step. McBride is some way away from fitness and Kasey Keller is nursing a broken arm still."

"Anybody who likes passing football played with a bit of style and panache figures that Arsenal can do it. The player who always stands out for me is Emmanuel Adebayor, I'm a big fan of his. I love his rangy motion and the fact he's so calm, cool and collected in front of goal."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Chris Harris 17 Jan 2008