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Relegation worries grow at Fulham

Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen saw his team slip to the bottom of the Premier League table yesterday with a 3-0 home defeat to Southampton

Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen saw his team slip to the bottom of the Premier League table yesterday with a 3-0 home defeat to Southampton

Fulham suffered a 3-0 hammering at home to Southampton yesterday and slipped to the bottom of the Premier League.

The result from the Cottagers was disappointing, despite the Saints superb second half display.

Worrying

It is very tight in the battle to avoid the drop in the Premier League. However, Fulham’s situation will be a worrying one for everybody connected with the club. The descent towards the bottom of the table has been a tough one.

The likes of Sunderland and Crystal Palace have hit a bit of form, while Cardiff and West Ham both picked up vital victories in yesterday’s games.

Fulham are one of the few teams at the bottom of the Premier League table that do not look like picking up points at present.

Difficult

The Cottagers now have two very difficult games to come. Rene Meulensteen’s men travel to Manchester United next week and then host free-scoring Liverpool at Craven Cottage. Fulham then face a relegation battle with West Brom, before hosting title challengers Chelsea at Craven Cottage.

By the time that Fulham face the Baggies, they could be cut adrift in the race to stay in the top-flight. They cannot afford to lose ground on the teams above them, but at the moment it is hard to see the Cottagers picking up anything from the next two games.

Manchester United be looking to get back to winning ways after that 2-1 defeat at Stoke yesterday, while Liverpool are in the thick of the race for the top four.

Signings

Fulham were one of the most active teams on transfer deadline day. The Cottagers strengthened their defence, midfield and forward line in attempt to improve the team’s fortunes. Dutch international centre-back Johnny Heitinga arrived from Everton, while German international Lewis Holtby arrived from Spurs on-loan for the rest of the season.

The other signing could be the biggest of the lot, with Greek international Kostas Mitroglou arriving from Olympiakos. The striker had reportedly attracting the interest of Arsenal earlier in the season, after scoring 17 goals in 19 appearances this season.

Scoring goals have been a problem for the Cottagers this season, with the Londoners having scored just 22 goals in their 24 Premier League games so far this season. Mitroglou certainly knows where the net is, but it is a matter of how quickly he can find his feet in the Premier League.

A man that will be looking to supply Mitroglou with scoring chances will be Lewis Holtby, who arrived at Tottenham in last year’s January transfer window. The 23-year-old Germany international has struggled to establish himself in the Spurs midfield.

However, Holtby is highly-rated and will be desperate to prove his quality in the Premier League with the Cottagers, especially with the World Cup in June.

Boss

Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen is very much a rookie in terms of being a number one. The Dutchman was a highly-regarded coach in the Manchester United setup, before leaving Old Trafford when David Moyes arrived from Everton.

His appointment by the Cottagers was very much a gamble considering his lack of Premier League managerial experience and lack of managerial experience in general.

The inexperienced Fulham boss inherited an aging squad of players from compatriot Martin Jol, who were low on confidence and had endured some really poor results. The results have not really improved under Meulensteen.

In the first half of yesterday’s game the Cottagers could have taken the lead, with Darren Bent being denied on a number of occasions by Saints keeper Artur Boruc. However, they did not find a breakthrough and the Saints went on to gain a comfortable win with three second half goals.

Fulham fans will be questioning whether Meulensteen is the right man for the job at the moment. The Cottagers hierarchy took a chance appointing the Dutchman and so far it does not look to have paid off.

Goal difference

One major disadvantage that the Cottagers have in the fight for survival is their goal difference. Meulensteen’s team have a goal difference of -31, which is nine worse than their closest competitors Cardiff City.

Fulham have conceded an incredible 53 goals this season in the top-flight, which is 20 more than some of the teams around them. Fulham find themselves in their current predicament because they simple concede too many goals and do not score enough. It really is not rocket science.

Favourites

Fulham have not yet been cut-adrift, but are current favourites to be relegated this season and there odds of 14/1 to win at Old Trafford in their next match are probably fair on current form.

It currently looks like it will be very difficult for Fulham to escape the drop this season. However, the Cottagers first half display against the Saints and the new signings will give Fulham fans some cause for optimism, even if they do currently sit bottom of the Premier League table.

Can Fulham save themselves from relegation this season?

Sun 2 February, 2014
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