Andre Schurrle returns to Chelsea hoping to shine for Claudio Ranieri at Fulham
Schurrle faces former club Chelsea with Fulham on Sunday
By Ben McAleer, WhoScored.com
Last Updated: 28/11/18 6:06am
Ahead of Fulham's meeting with Chelsea on Derby Day, WhoScored.com take a look at Andre Schurrle's importance to the side...
Fulham's recruitment drive over the summer was exciting to watch, both for the club's fans and for those on the outside. New signings always heighten expectations and it was no different for Fulham as they invested heavily following their promotion back to the Premier League.
The permanent return of Aleksandar Mitrovic was one of the headline arrivals, with the additions of Jean Michael Seri and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, from Nice and Marseille respectively, helping to bolster what was already a strong midfield. The Cottagers also added Premier League experience in the final third to complement Mitrovic in the form of Andre Schurrle, who joined on a two-season loan from Borussia Dortmund.
Despite the hectic transfer window, however, Fulham sit bottom of the Premier League table. Saturday's 3-2 win over Southampton was just their second of the season and their first since August.
The dismal start cost Slavisa Jokanovic his job as manager, but his successor, Claudio Ranieri, is now aiming to follow up the victory over Southampton with another win over his former employers Chelsea on Derby Day. Ranieri will hope to come back to haunt his old side and so too will former Chelsea winger Schurrle.
The Germany international spent just 18 months with Chelsea between 2013 and 2015, struggling to hold down a place in the Blues' starting XI and making just 20 Premier League starts in total. At Fulham, however, he has already become a mainstay.
So far, he has started 12 of their 13 Premier League matches. Only Mitrovic has played more minutes, highlighting Schurrle's importance to the west London outfit, and there have already been five goals - including Fulham's second against Southampton on Saturday.
Schurrle has added directness to Fulham's attack, with 2.4 dribbles per 90 minutes representing one of the highest returns at the club, while his versatility means he can play on either flank or even through the middle, where he started in the 3-2 win over Southampton.
An average of 2.9 shots per game ranks among the top 10 players in the Premier League this season and denotes Schurrle's confidence in his ability to hit the back of the net. His Fulham team-mate Mitrovic is one of only 13 players to have scored more Premier League goals this season.
Fulham's situation would be even bleaker if not for Schurrle's goals. So far, they have earned them an additional three points, underlining his importance to the side.
It's no surprise, then, that Schurrle ranks as one of Fulham's best-rated players this season, according to WhoScored.com. His statistically-calculated rating of 6.77 is second only to Mitrovic's 7.09.
The duo have quickly struck up a good understanding and if Ranieri can build on it, then Fulham's chances of staving off the drop will increase immensely.
Of course, Ranieri still needs to resolve Fulham's defensive issues - they have conceded more goals (33) than any other Premier League side this season - but in Mitrovic and Schurrle, the Italian possesses an attacking partnership that has already accounted for a combined total of 12 goals.
Schurrle can benefit from Mitrovic's ability to play with his back to goal and hold off opposition defenders. The German's directness is already helping the pair to blossom in the final third and it could prove to be Fulham's most effective route to goal over the coming months.
Having failed to make his mark with Chelsea, Schurrle would love nothing more than to maximise his statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of 'finishing' on Sunday and throw another spanner in the works of Fulham's rivals' title hopes. Given his direct approach to attacking, he could prove to be the perfect fit for Ranieri.