Fulham 0-2 West Ham Match Report | Abject Cottagers defending hands Hammers fourth straight win

New Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri has massive, massive problems. His side created far more chances (16 shots to West Ham’s 6), but were let down by two horror moments of first half defending. West Ham didn’t have too many chances, but as Manuel Pellegrini remarked after the game, clinically took the ones they had. It’s the hallmark of a good team, and the Hammers moved into the top ten with a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage- their fourth straight victory on the bounce.

Pellegrini made only one change, bringing in Michail Antonio upfront for the injured Lucas Perez. Fulham had Andre Frank Anguissa suspended and Ryan Sessegnon injured, and Ranieri brought in Calum Chambers and Aboubakar Kamara into the starting lineup. The Italian chose to keep faith with the same backline that had struggled against Man Utd, which in hindsight, proved to be a terrible decision. He could’ve played Christie at right back instead of Odoi, who had a torrid evening against the in-form Felipe Anderson.

West Ham starting lineup v Fulham 2018

It was Fulham who started the better of the two. Aboubakar Kamara had a glorious chance in the 9th minute, one on one with the keeper after West Ham’s attempt at keeping a high line failed, but Lukasz Fabianski was on hand to deny him. There were other chances in the first half to both Kamara and his partner Mitrovic (one where Mitrovic failed to get onto the end of a dangerous cross at the far post, and another where Kamara headed straight at Fabianski), but Fulham were unable to convert. There were also plenty of shots from long range (Andre Schurrle in particular), which didn’t really trouble West Ham.

Mitrovic isn’t the fastest player in the league, and his lack of an extra yard of pace, plus the absence of any support player led to the first goal. Three passes from back to front and Fulham were torn apart on the counter. Odoi went in for a challenge on Anderson, but failed and the ball eventually arrived at the feet of Rob Snodgrass, who curled in a stunner for his second goal in as many weeks.

If the defending for the first goal was bad, it was nothing short of terrible for the second. Left back Bryan went to challenge Snodgrass in midfield, and left a vacant space in the box. Schurrle didn’t track back, Odoi failed to close down the cross, Mawson’s positioning was awful, Ream had to make a choice between Hernandez and Antonio, and went to challenge for the header. Hernandez nodded it into the path of the unmarked Antonio, who had plenty of time to control before producing a good finish past Rico. It was a textbook example on how NOT to defend at Premier League level.

Ranieri brought in Christie at half time, and while West Ham didn’t score any more, they weren’t really troubled by Fulham either. The Cottagers had possession, but lacked any real threat going forward, and West Ham were happy to sit back and soak the pressure. It was a game where they didn’t have to get out of second gear, but at the same time, crucially a fixture they might have lost in past years.

Fulham 0-2 West Ham (Snodgrass, Antonio)

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