Ryan Sessegnon will be Fulham’s dangerman on Saturday, without doubt. The 18-year-old is a direct, pacey player who boasts a clean strike, and has 16 goals and 7 assists from the left of midfield this term. Sessegnon has featured in 44 of Fulham’s 46 regular season games, an incredible achievement for a man who only entered adulthood a couple of days ago.
The worrying thing is Sessegnon isn’t fazed by the big occasion; taking down Stefan Johansen flick on his chest, the youngster blasted the ball past Scott Carson in Fulham’s second leg victory over Derby to seal the Cottagers progression to the final.
According to whoscored.com, one of his weaknesses is his defensive contribution, but Matt Targett sorts out that aspect doing the dirty work behind him at left-back.
To get things straight, this man is Adama Traore with an end product. It could be argued Traore weakens Middlesbrough, with Boro trying to find him at every opportunity and thus slowing their play, but Sessegnon slots perfectly into the Cottagers system.
However, when Fulham do have off days, is Sessegnon the man to drag the team to victory? In the Cottagers 3-1 defeat to Birmingham, where they needed a win, the Londoners were poor and Sessegnon was anonymous in the first half. The then 17-year-old having to switch to left-back for the second 45. Frustrate Fulham and you’re more than likely to frustrate Sessegnon.
Will Alan Hutton be Villa’s defensive weapon?
That’s what Alan Hutton must do. The Scotsman nullified Traore excellently over the two legs against Boro, sticking to him like glue, especially in the first leg. So much so, it’s rare to find a photo from either game of Adama without Hutton in.
When Adama switched wings in the first leg, Alan Hutton switched with him. Steve Bruce’s plan was to keep his full-back monitoring Traore at all times. It’s likely that the same thing will happen to Sessegnon in the final, however Villa must be careful to spot runs he makes opening up space for the likes of Floyd Ayité or Aleksander Mitrovic to fill.
Saturday the 26th May could be the last time we see some players in claret and blue, Sam Johnstone and Robert Snodgrass will finish their loan spells and John Terry hasn’t confirmed he will stay on next year (although if Villa go up it looks more likely). Nevertheless, a player who almost certainly will not come back is that man Hutton, who’s contract runs out soon after the game. I say almost because I along with many other fans hope Bruce offers him a contract out of the blue! After all the bad he’s been through with Villa as our second longest serving current player, surely the Scot deserves to go out on a high.
The thing with Alan Hutton is you know what you’re going to get with him, he’ll give 100%, never shirk a tackle plus the 33-year-old is surprisingly quick for his age. Hopefully a few early reducers from the Hutton next Saturday will send Sessegnon into his shell. Hopefully.