‘I’m Here To Help The Team’: Lookman Joins Fulham On Loan

Ademola Lookman says he is at Fulham to help the club. Photo: [email protected]

 

Ademola Lookman is excited at joining Fulham from German Bundesliga side, RB Leipzig on a season-long, restating his commitment to helping the club. 

“I’m glad to have it over the line and done now, I’m glad I can be here to help the team,” the left-winger who won the 2017 U-20 World Cup with England, told Fulham’s website.

According to Lookman, 22, he was convinced to join the newly-promoted Premier League side after being persuaded by the London club’s boss, Scott Parker, to help bolster a team that has struggled on their return to the top-flight.

“I’m glad to have it over the line and done now, I’m glad I can be here to help the team,” Lookman added.

“After the conversations I had with Scott Parker, I got a great feeling, that’s the working relationship I want to have.”

Fulham have had a rough return to the Premier League this season, losing their first three games and conceding 10 goals in the process.


The latest defeat for the Cottagers was a 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa on Monday.

Ademola Lookman won the U-20 World Cup with England in 2017. Photo: [email protected] Leipzig

 

Fulham will play their next game on Thursday – a League Cup fourth-round clash at Brentford, who will be hoping for revenge after losing last month’s Championship play-off final to Fulham.

Lookman was born in England to Nigerian parents and even though he played for the English side at age-grade level, he is eligible to wear the Super Eagles’ green and white.

Premier League New Boys Leeds Edge Fulham In Seven-Goal Thriller

Leeds vs fulham
Leeds United and Fulham gained promotion to the Premier League this season. Photo: Twitter Leeds.

 

Fulham recorded their second consecutive defeat since the start of the new Premier League season as they were edged 4-3 by fellow newcomers, Leeds United on Saturday. 

After losing 4-3 at champions Liverpool on the opening weekend, Helda Costa fired Marcelo Bielsa’s free-scoring side ahead in the fifth minute.Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic equalised from the penalty spot in the 35th minute after a foul on Joe Bryan.Bryan was penalised himself for his shove on Patrick Bamford and Mateusz Klich restored Leeds’ advantage with a 40th-minute spot-kick.

Leeds United’s Portuguese midfielder Helder Costa (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring their fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Fulham at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on September 19, 2020. / AFP / POOL / Oli SCARFF

 

In the 51st minute, Patrick Bamford steered a right-footed finish into the bottom corner.

Leeds struck again six minutes later with a superb strike from Costa.

Fulham pulled one back in the 62nd minute through Bobby Decordova-Reid and Mitrovic’s towering header four minutes later set up a tense finale, but the promoted Cottagers fell to a second successive defeat.

Leeds’ opening games have seen 14 goals, which is the most for a top-flight side’s first two matches since Wolves in 1962-63.

Seven-Goal Thriller 

At Goodison Park, Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit a hat-trick in Everton’s 5-2 win over 10-man West Bromwich Albion.

Everton’s English striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin scores their fifth goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and West Bromwich Albion at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on September 19, 2020. / AFP / POOL / Michael Regan.

 

Carlo Ancelotti’s side fell behind to Grady Diangana’s early goal.

But Calvert-Lewin equalised and James Rodriguez put Everton ahead with his first Premier League goal before Albion imploded.

Kieran Gibbs was dismissed for pushing James in the face in first-half stoppage-time, a rash reaction that prompted him to issue a post-match apology taking “full responsibility” for his mistake.

Then Albion boss Slaven Bilic was sent to the stands after storming onto the pitch for a furious rant at referee Mike Dean.

Matheus Pereira equalised for Albion after the interval, but Michael Keane restored Everton’s lead and Calvert-Lewin sealed the points with his second and third goals.

After a summer spending spree, Ancelotti is under pressure to deliver a big improvement on last season’s 12th place finish and the early signs are promising.

Having beaten Tottenham in their opening game last weekend, Everton have started a Premier League season with consecutive victories for the first time since 2012-13.

“Of course today Dominic was the top scorer but also Richarlison did really well, the combination in front was good,” Ancelotti said.

“They are supported by James, who is doing really well. I’m satisfied in front, we have to do better at the back.”

AFP

Rampant Arsenal Devour Fulham In Premier League Opener

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2L) scores their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2L) scores their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP

 

Arsenal made a flying start to the new Premier League season as Gabriel Magalhaes grabbed a debut goal and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a stunner in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Fulham.

Just 48 days after last season’s delayed conclusion, the Premier League is back and Arsenal hit the ground running with the kind of confident display that has become their hallmark since Mikel Arteta took charge.

Arsenal’s free-flowing attack was too incisive for promoted Fulham and Alexandre Lacazette gave the visitors an early lead at Craven Cottage.

Brazilian defender Gabriel scored Arsenal’s second after the break in his first appearance since his close-season move from Lille.

Aubameyang added the final flourish with a typically eye-catching strike that emphasised why Arsenal are so desperate for the Gabon forward to sign an extension to the contract which expires at the end of the season.

Arteta has said that fans concerned Aubameyang will leave can “relax” because he is “very optimistic” his captain will agree a new deal soon.

With former Chelsea winger Willian providing a pair of assists on his debut, it was the ideal way for Arsenal to start a season that appears full of promise after last season’s FA Cup triumph.

Although their eighth-placed finish in the Premier League ranked as Arsenal’s lowest final position since 1995, Arteta had little to do with that after taking charge in December following the dismal reign of Unai Emery.

The former Manchester City assistant coach has been a much-needed breath of fresh air for Arsenal and pushing for a place in the top four should not be beyond his revitalised team this term.

While the continued absence of fans due to the coronavirus and shorter than usual break has taken a little anticipation away from the new campaign, Arsenal were keener than most to get back in action after beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

The Gunners had underlined their rapid improvement by defeating Premier League champions Liverpool on penalties in the Community Shield last month and Fulham were no match for them.

Crumbling Fulham

The only dark cloud for Arteta was a pre-match spat between Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah.

The pair had to be separated by Arsenal team-mates after Nketiah reacted to an aggressive challenge from Ceballos while a group of players were exchanging passes in the warm-up.

Arteta must have been alarmed when Ainsley Maitland-Niles hit a weak back pass that caused confusion between Gabriel and recalled keeper Bernd Leno early on.

Aboubakar Kamara nipped in but Leno managed to save at his feet before the Fulham forward could get a shot away.

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. Clive Rose / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (C) celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020.
Clive Rose / POOL / AFP

 

Arteta’s worries were eased when Lacazette netted in the ninth minute.

Granit Xkaha’s strike forced a miscued clearance from Tim Ream and Willian pounced with a close-range shot that Fulham keeper Marek Rodak could only push out to Lacazette, who slotted home from virtually on the goalline.

It made Lacazette the first player to score the opening goal of a Premier League campaign twice after the French striker also bagged the opener in 2017-18.

Willian was denied a debut goal when his low free-kick cannoned off the base of the post.

Gabriel was enjoying a composed debut and the 22-year-old showed he can be a goal threat as well when he doubled Arsenal’s lead in the 49th minute.

Willian swung over the corner and Gabriel showed his desire as he rose above Michael Hector for an attempted header that hit his shoulder as it flashed into the net.

Fulham’s defence was crumbling like the recently demolished Craven Cottage stand and Aubameyang finished them off in the 57th minute with a carbon copy of his Community Shield goal against Liverpool.

Just as at Wembley, Willian’s superb cross-field pass picked out Aubameyang and he was allowed to advance unchecked into the area before bending a fine finish into the far corner.

 

AFP

Premiership Side Fulham Sign Super Eagles Star Ola Aina

ola-aina
Ola Aina was part of the Nigerian side that won bronze at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt. Photo: [email protected] Football Club.

 

Fulham signed Torino defender Ola Aina on a season-long loan on Friday.

The newly-promoted Premier League club have an option to turn the 23-year-old’s loan into a permanent move at the end of this season.

Nigeria international Aina is back in London, where he was born and spent several seasons in Chelsea’s youth team before joining Torino.

“I feel very excited and privileged to be able to play for a club like this,” Aina told Fulham’s website.

“It feels amazing to be back closer to my family, back in the capital where I was born and raised.

“There’s a great bunch of lads here. I’m really good friends with Big Hec (Michael Hector) and Josh Onomah.”

Aina joined Chelsea aged 11 and went on to make three league appearances between 2015 and 2019.

After impressing in Italy on loan, Torino signed Aina on a permanent basis.

Fulham open their Premier League campaign at home to Arsenal on Saturday.

AFP

Fulham Return To Premier League Promised Land After Play-Off Glory

Fulham players celebrating their promotion to the EPL. Photo: [email protected] Football Club

 

 

 

Fulham made an instant return to the Premier League on Tuesday, beating Brentford 2-1 at Wembley in what is regarded as the most lucrative game in world football.

Defender Joe Bryan was the unlikely hero for Scott Parker’s side in the Championship play-off final, scoring two goals in extra time after the London clubs were locked at 0-0 at the end of a cagey 90 minutes.

Henrik Dalsgaard scored a late consolation for Brentford but it was too little too late for Thomas Frank’s team, who have not played in the English top-flight for 73 years.

The Craven Cottage club will earn around £135 million ($176 million) for bouncing back from relegation last season and this result also gives rookie boss Parker a first success of his fledgling managerial career.

 

“We’ve done what we’ve done tonight, but there’s still improvement, and that’s what makes me so proud and happy,” Parker told Sky Sports.

“For all of the good players and everything you see, what makes me so happy I see a group of players who only a year ago were struggling psychologically, didn’t have a mindset or mentality.

“I’ve driven this team every single day and what makes me proud is I stood on the touchline tonight and have seen a team that represents what I’ve been saying over the last 12 months.”

fulham
Fulham supporters gather outside their team’s Craven Cottage football stadium to celebrate the club’s promotion to the English Premier League, in west London on August 4, 2020, following their Championship play-off victory over Brentford. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

– Bryan double –

Left-back Bryan broke the deadlock for Fulham in the 105th minute when he made the most of a costly misjudgement by Brentford goalkeeper David Raya.

While Raya and everyone else expected a cross from a free-kick 35 yards out, Bryan beat the goalkeeper at his near post to break the deadlock.

The goal sparked wild celebrations, which only grew in the 117th minute when Bryan got forward again and exchanged passes with substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic before finding the net again.

Promotion was confirmed for Fulham but only after Henrik Dalsgaard had pulled one back for Brentford with seconds to go, heading home after Christian Norgaard had knocked a free-kick across the face of goal.

Brentford, who beat Fulham twice in the league this season, finished third in the Championship table, ahead of their London rivals on goal difference.

The result is a bitter blow for Brentford, who were on the brink of automatic promotion last month before successive defeats against lowly Stoke and Barnsley forced them to settle for a third-place finish behind Leeds and West Brom.

“Of course it’s tough when you lose a final like this in a very tight game but I’m extremely proud of my players,” said Frank.

“We have gone from a mid-table club to a team who, in the league table, was the third-best team. We are very fine margins away from the Premier League, which is an incredible achievement from us.”

AFP

Man City Thrash Fulham 4-0 In FA Cup Thriller

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus heads past Fulham’s Slovakian goalkeeper Marek Rodak to score their fourth goal during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Manchester City and Fulham at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on January 26, 2020. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Holders Manchester City cruised into the FA Cup fifth round with a 4-0 thrashing of 10-man Fulham at the Etihad on Sunday.

Tim Ream’s sixth-minute red card gave the Championship side a mountain to climb after he hauled down Gabriel Jesus inside the box.

Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty before Bernardo Silva’s smart turn and shot quickly doubled City’s advantage.

The visitors then held out for nearly an hour but two headers in three minutes from Jesus gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the English champions’ dominance.

Pep Guardiola’s men have now won 17 domestic cup ties in a row.

The Catalan is relying on more cup success for silverware this season after conceding the Premier League title is beyond his side with Liverpool 16 points clear at the top of the table.

Guardiola made eight changes to the team that won 1-0 at Sheffield United in midweek but still named a strong side with both David and Bernardo Silva and Gundogan among those coming into the team.

Fulham boss Scott Parker also rotated with his priority securing a return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Any hope of an upset was quashed within minutes by a rash challenge from Ream.

City have had problems from the spot this season with Guardiola even claiming goalkeeper Ederson is his best taker after Jesus’ latest miss at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.

However, with the Brazilian on the bench with Claudio Bravo keeping his starting spot in goal for the cups, it was Gundogan who took responsibility to dispatch the spot-kick.

A moment of magic from Bernardo then gave the hosts breathing space as the Portuguese international fired into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Only a lack of killer instinct prevented City from further running up the score as Raheem Sterling came off the bench to hit the crossbar.

Jesus, though, bagged a confidence-boosting double by heading home Joao Cancelo’s cross before nodding in the rebound after Marek Rodak had saved Phil Foden’s initial effort.

AFP

Guardiola Salutes ‘Incredible’ City After Beating Fulham

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola, wearing a red and black scarf in honour of life president Bernard Halford, goes over to celebrate with supporters after the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Manchester City at Craven Cottage in London on March 30, 2019. Manchester City won the game 2-0. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola hailed his “incredible” Manchester City stars as they swept back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Fulham on Saturday. 

First-half goals from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero moved Guardiola’s side one point clear of previous leaders Liverpool.

It was a confident display from City in the west London sunshine and Guardiola was impressed with the rhythm his team showed after the two-week international break.

READ ALSO: French ‘Yellow Vests’ Stage 20th Day Of Protests

“Our first 15-20 minutes was one of the best of the season. We played with incredible spirit, we could have scored more. After the goals we controlled it,” he said.

“It was an incredible result after the international break and have played away. We did what we should do.

“After the break playing at home is different to playing away. Always you have doubts about how they’re going to react.

“Fulham was a tough game for Liverpool and Chelsea so we knew it was going to be tricky, 12:30 on Saturday, a sunny day.

“That is unusual and that is why I am so satisfied.”

Although Liverpool would regain pole position if they beat Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, City have a game in hand and will be crowned champions for the second successive season if they win their last seven matches.

Guardiola isn’t thinking that far ahead just yet and he urged his players to take it one game at a time.

“Liverpool and Man City have done incredibly so far so deserve the credit. We will have 80 points with six games to play if we win next week,” he said.

“We are going to do everything to win. No matter the next competition, we will win the game.”

City, who have already won the League Cup, remain in contention for an unprecedented quadruple as they chase Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup glory.

But Guardiola said: “We don’t think too much about what people say about the quadruple. Enjoy the moment and dream to win another game.”

AFP

Liverpool Survive Fulham Scare To Go Top Of Premier League

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (L) vies with Fulham’s English defender Joe Bryan during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage in London on March 17, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Liverpool usurped Manchester City to take a top spot in the Premier League but needed a James Milner penalty nine minutes from time to see off lowly Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The on-form Sadio Mane put the visitors in front midway through the first half, but a rare defensive mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker allowed Ryan Babel to give his former club a huge scare 16 minutes from time.

Fulham’s awful defending all season is the reason they are heading back to the Championship after just one season back in the top flight, and the hosts gave Jurgen Klopp’s men a much-needed gift when goalkeeper Sergio Rico bundled over Mane and Milner secured all three points from the spot.

Liverpool now hold a two-point lead over City, but the champions have a game in hand.

READ ALSO: Wolves Beat Man United To Reach FA Cup Semis

“Average game, sensational result,” said Klopp of his side’s performance.

“City don’t look like they will drop a lot of points, so we have to win and win and win. That’s our job to do.”

Liverpool completed a clean sweep of four English sides into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a highly impressive 3-1 win at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

But they nearly suffered a very costly European hangover against a Fulham side still 13 points adrift of safety.

“We had to run a lot in a week where we ran a lot,” added Klopp to justify an at times lackluster display at such a pivotal stage of the season.

Most of the visitors’ attacking threat came down their left side through Mane and the Senegalese proved the source of the breakthrough on 26 minutes.

Mane scored twice in Munich in midweek and took his hot streak to 11 goals in 11 games with a simple finish after exchanging passes with Roberto Firmino.

 No excuses 

Liverpool started the second half with greater intent to try and put the game to bed.

Andy Robertson was the provider as Georginio Wijnaldum headed a good opportunity over at the far post before Rico was called into action to deny Van Dijk.

However, as a torrential rain shower swept over the banks of the Thames to make playing conditions hazardous, Liverpool’s slender lead proved a dangerous one.

Floyd Ayite was rightly flagged offside as he headed a deflected shot past Alisson before the Brazilian number one got down well to save from Andre Zambo Anguissa.

Mane was inches away from securing the points and doubling his tally for the day with a deft header from a corner that clipped the top of the crossbar.

Disaster seemed to have struck for Liverpool when Van Dijk’s header back towards Alisson didn’t have enough purchase and Babel stepped in with the break of the ball to tap into an empty net.

“I am not giving excuses. I should have handled it better,” admitted Van Dijk.

However, the league leaders showed why they are in the running to end a 29-year title drought to get a vital three points with the help of some erratic goalkeeping from Rico.

“I saw the reaction of my players and I’m really pleased with that,” added Klopp. “After the equaliser we were much clearer than before the equaliser.”

Mohamed Salah’s goal drought continued as the Egyptian has scored just once now in his last 10 games, but it was his shot that Rico spilled before the Spaniard unnecessarily pulled down Mane.

Milner took responsibility instead of Salah from the penalty spot and calmly sent Rico the wrong way to restore Liverpool’s lead, which this time they never looked like letting go.

AFP

Fulham Sack Coach Ranieri, Appoint Parker As Caretaker Manager

Claudio Ranieri/LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Claudio Ranieri’s short, unsuccessful spell as manager of Premier League strugglers Fulham came to an end on Thursday, the club announced.

The 67-year-old Italian, who memorably guided Leicester City to the 2016 Premier League title, failed to ignite a revival in the club after he replaced the sacked Slavisa Jokanovic in November.

He was in charge for just 16 league games but won only three, and Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Southampton left them second from bottom, 10 points adrift of safety with 10 matches remaining.

“Following our discussion this afternoon, Claudio Ranieri agreed to my decision that a change was in the best interest of everyone,” said Fulham chairman Shahid Khan in a statement.

Khan, whose investment of over £100million in new players in the close season after they were promoted to the Premier League has backfired spectacularly, said Ranieri behaved like a “perfect gentleman” during the talks.

“Claudio’s tenure at Fulham didn’t produce the outcome we anticipated and needed when I appointed him as manager in November, but be assured he is not solely to blame for the position we are in today,” said Khan.

READ ALSO: Victory Over Tottenham Can Save Chelsea’s Season, Says Sarri

Ranieri, who was sacked by Leicester months after their fairytale success, said he was sad the good start the club had made under his charge had not been maintained.

“I am obviously disappointed with the recent results and that we could not build on the good start we made following my appointment,” said Ranieri, who took over at a time when Fulham had secured just one point from their previous eight matches.

Khan added former England midfielder Scott Parker — who ended his playing career at Fulham — is to be the caretaker manager.

“Scott’s immediate assignment is merely to help us stabilise, grow and rediscover ourselves as a football club,” said Khan.

“If Scott can answer that challenge, and our players respond to the opportunity, perhaps victories will follow in the months ahead.”

Ranieri is the sixth Premier League manager to lose his job this season and comes just days after Claude Puel was sacked by Leicester — Jokanovic, Mark Hughes (Southampton), Jose Mourinho (Manchester United) and David Wagner (Huddersfield) being the other casualties.

AFP

Fulham To Take Action Over Kamara Racist Abuse

Aboubakar Kamara argued with Aleksandar Mitrovic over who would take a penalty against Huddersfield.                                  Credit: @MirrorFootball

 

Fulham have vowed to take the “strongest possible action” after striker Aboubakar Kamara was racially abused on social media following his penalty miss against Huddersfield on Saturday.

The Frenchman was strongly criticised by his manager Claudio Ranieri for disobeying orders to hand over penalty duties to Aleksandar Mitrovic.

“It is unbelievable, he did not respect me, the club, the team and crowd. I spoke with him, it is not right. I want to kill him,” said Ranieri, despite Mitrovic’s stoppage-time winner in a 1-0 victory for the Premier League strugglers.

However, Fulham have promised to support Kamara after he was abused online.

“The club will provide all necessary support to Aboubakar and will take the strongest possible action against those identified and responsible for these posts,” a club spokesman said in a statement.

AFP

Arsenal’s Season At Crossroads As Fulham Await

Arsenal now sit five points off the top four and anything less than three points in the home meeting with fellow London side Fulham on Tuesday will weaken their chances of returning to the Champions League. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

 

Riding high until two weeks ago, Arsenal’s season has taken a sudden downturn that has thrown the focus firmly onto the club’s plans for the January transfer window.

Prior to the visit to Southampton in mid-December, the Gunners had gone 22 games without defeat and while form had been more patchy since the end of October, the trajectory of Unai Emery’s side was undeniably on the up.

Defeat at St Mary’s Stadium, however, triggered a run that has brought just one win in five games, including Saturday’s humiliating 5-1 defeat at league leaders Liverpool.

With Chelsea winning at Crystal Palace a day later, Arsenal now sit five points off the top four and anything less than three points in the home meeting with fellow London side Fulham on Tuesday will further undermine the club’s hopes of reclaiming a place in the Champions League.

Arsenal have started to appear increasingly vulnerable at the back, a weakness that was ruthlessly exposed by Jurgen Klopp’s side at Anfield.

‘Injuries not the problem’

The sight of his defenders chasing shadows and failing in their attempts to constrain Liverpool’s thrilling front three will have made painful viewing for Spanish manager Emery and came just three days after Stephan Lichtsteiner’s mistake had gifted Brighton an equaliser in the 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium.

Injuries haven’t helped with defenders Nacho Monreal, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Shkodran Mustafi all missing the trip to the south coast, while Laurent Koscielny is still feeling his way back to form and fitness after an extended layoff.

Mustafi returned for the Liverpool game yet while the changes to the back-line have done nothing to help the team establish some stability, Bernd Leno insists injuries cannot be used as an excuse following the Liverpool defeat.

“I don’t think that was the difference,” said the goalkeeper.

“Of course we conceded five goals but I think we as a team made too many mistakes. We have enough quality, even when somebody is injured…injuries were not the problem.

“We have to look forward because we have another important game on Tuesday. It’s the first game of the year and on Tuesday we want to beat Fulham at home. We need to win.”

Arsenal’s problems have not been restricted to their back line, but the frailties suggest Emery needs to bolster his defence in the transfer window.

It’s not a new problem for the club but with Lucas Torreira now offering more steel in front of the back four, there is the possibility to develop a more convincing defensive core.

Meanwhile, uncertainty continues to surround the Arsenal future of Mesut Ozil who has so far failed to win over the new coach and missed the visit to Anfield with a knee problem.

“I don’t know if it’s big or not big, but it’s his knee,” said Emery when quizzed about the playmaker’s absence.

With Alexandre Lacazette also appearing frustrated after being withdrawn at Brighton and then left on the bench at Liverpool, the coming weeks will go a long way towards shaping the remainder of Arsenal’s season.

AFP

Man United Romp To 4-1 Win Against Struggling Fulham

Manchester United’s striker Marcus Rashford celebrates with teammates after scoring their fourth goal against Fulham at Old Trafford, on December 8, 2018. Photo: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jose Mourinho answered his critics — for the time being at least — as his Manchester United side recorded their biggest league victory in 13 months with a 4-1 win over Fulham.

Ashley Young, with his first goal in over 12 months, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku shot United into a commanding first-half lead.

But they struggled to add to that advantage after the break, even after Fulham were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, moments after Aboubakar Kamara had pulled a goal back from the penalty spot.

Eventually, United were able to do so, completing the rout in the 82nd minute when Marcus Rashford beat Fulham keeper Sergio Rico at his near post with a curling shot from the edge of the area.

Young struck early, receiving a short pass from Rashford and beating Denis Odoi far too easily as he cut into the Fulham area.

There was still much for Young to do to beat Rico but the former England international lofted a superbly weighted finish into the top corner to give the visiting keeper no chance.

The second goal, just before the half-hour, was far more routine although no less impressive given the speed with which United launched a devastating counter-attack.

Lukaku slipped the ball down the left wing for Rashford and the England forward picked out Mata, arriving speedily into the Fulham area, with a perfect pass which his Spanish team-mate steered left-footed into the corner.

There was time for United to add a third in the 42nd minute, from a clever corner routine that saw Mata and Jesse Lingard exchange passes before the former crossed into an empty six-yard area where Lukaku gratefully converted the easiest of chances.

United changes

Mourinho made four changes to the side that drew with Arsenal in midweek, meaning he has made a league-high 50 changes over the course of the 16-game season.

But there was still no starting place for Paul Pogba, widely criticised for his performance in last weekend’s draw at Southampton and benched for the much-improved midweek display against the Gunners.

Yet there was little wrong with the way in which United, so often accused of starting games slowly, set about handling Fulham.

Even before Young’s opening goal, teenage full-back Diogo Dalot sent over a couple of dangerous right-wing crosses that Fulham were forced to defend.

A first-time volley from Young also threatened, while Rico made a magnificent diving stop to keep out a sensational long-range shot from a Rashford free-kick while David De Gea’s only first-half action was a routine stop from a hopeful Aleksandar Mitrovic attempt.

A three-goal lead for United was fully merited on balance and forced Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri into a double half-time substitution with Luciano Vietto and Kamara thrown on.

Not that matters improved for the Premier League’s bottom club. Within minutes of the restart, Rico parried a powerful Rashford shot and Lukaku planted the rebound wide and, moments later, the keeper showed quick reflexes to beat Lukaku to a Dalot cross with his goal again at the striker’s mercy.

Ander Herrera also missed a glorious chance, shooting wide from Mata’s pass, before Fulham pulled a goal back in the 67th minute.

United claimed Kamara had fouled Phil Jones as he collected a pass but referee Lee Probert judged Herrera had tripped the Fulham substitute, who took and scored the resulting penalty himself.

Hopes of a Fulham fightback were short-lived, however, with Zambo Anguissa collecting a second yellow card, for fouling Rashford, within a minute and reducing his team to 10 men.

With that extra-man advantage, Lukaku, Rashford and Scott McTominay all wasted glorious chances for more goals.

AFP