Fulham 1-1 West Brom: Fulham lose another late lead as West Brom bag year’s first goal (video)

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Another week, another 1-1 draw for Fulham after holding a lead late into the season.  Martin Jol must be surely sweating his job now as last match it’s Newcastle and now West Brom.  An early Steve Sidwell goal was cancelled out in injury time by a Gareth McAuley header as West Brom finally get their first point and goal of the young season.

Three disallowed goals for offsides doomed the home side, and the defense broke down at the death to share the spoils.

The first 15 minutes were relatively dull, with the passing between the sides a bit sloppy.  Dimitar Berbatov and Victor Anichebe both lurked up front for their respective sides, but neither had a serious go on goal.

Chris Brunt had a go on goal from a long way out before the 20-minute mark but it swerved wide of David Stockdale’s net.

The first real chance came on a corner in the first half, where Fulham have looked dangerous before. The ball came in to Senderos who laid off a header to Steve Sidwell, who blasted a half-volley into the back of the net off Boaz Myhill’s fingertips for a 1-0 Fulham lead.

Things opened up after the goal,.  Fulham maintained the midfield possession, and it led to a chance for Berbatov in the 33rd minute.  He put the ball into the back of the net but was turned away by the offsides flag, and replays showed he was a good few feet on the wrong end of the defense.

After halftime the flag again denied a Berbatov goal, on a much tighter call but yet again correct as Pajtim Kasami threaded a ball through the West Brom defense until the Bulgarian’s arm just barely betrayed him.

The Baggies answered, as Anichebe latched onto a through ball past Brede Hangeland but a strong David Stockdale confidently denied the equalizer.

The second-half excitement continued in the 57th minute as Bryan Ruiz found Berbatov on a long distance ball, but it was Myhill’s turn to make a strong save coming out to challenge the Belgian.  It was a frustrating day for the former Manchester United striker. He again came oh-so close in the 66th minute when a lofted ball from Ruiz but Berbatov’s acrobatic volley sizzled just over.

The final 10 minutes proved equally exciting.  Nicolas Anelka went down in the box via Senderos, but the referee denied the penalty shout.  In the 83rd minute Fulham came inches away again as Alex Kacaniklic cut a ball back for Bryan Ruiz who’s shot shook the crossbar.  The ball shot straight down but not into the goal, and it fell for subsitiute Hugo Rodallega who put the ball into the back of the net but the linesman’s flag denied Fulham a goal for the third time on the day.

As Bryan Ruiz went down with what appeared to be a leg injury and was stretchered off, the referee added six minutes of stoppage time, plenty for the visitors to make it level.  That they did, as Gareth McAuley headed in a corner by Chris Brunt and it was misery again for Fulham against the league’s bottomfeeders.

Fulham – Stockdale; Riether, Senderos, Hangeland, Richardson (Amorebieta, 67′); Sidwell, Parker; Ruiz (Duff, 90′), Kasami, Kacaniklic; Berbatov (Rodallega, 77′).

West Brom – Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Amalfitano (Sinclair, 63′), Mulumbu, Yacob (Morrison, 63′), Brunt; Anelka, Anichebe (Berahino, 68′).

Watch Live: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen miss out as sickness-hit Tottenham Hotspur visits struggling Southampton at St. Mary’s on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

That opens up spots in the lineup for Michel Vorm and Moussa Sissoko, as Spurs aim to go level on points with fourth-place Liverpool.

Saints dipped into the drop zone when Stoke City won on Saturday, but will sit 14th if they can spring a home win over Spurs.

Mauricio Pellegrino is giving Mario Lemina and Manolo Gabbiadini, as well as in-form James Ward-Prowse, the starters’ chance to stop the rot. Southampton is winless in 10 league matches, but has drawn three of the last five.

LINEUPS

Southampton: McCarthy, Cedric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand, Lemina, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Hojbjerg, Gabbiadini. Subs: Forster, Pied, Bednarek, Davis, Boufal, Redmond, Obafemi.

Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm, Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Dembele, Sissoko, Dele, Son, Kane. Subs: Gazzaniga, Foyth, Trippier, Walker-Peters, Wanyama, Lamela, Llorente.

Making sense of the Silva firing: Should’ve let him walk?

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Watford fired manager Marco Silva on Sunday, blaming Everton’s recruitment of the Portuguese boss for his failure, and it seems his replacement has already been identified as Javi Gracia.

I mean, holy smoke: So much for “easy like Sunday morning.”

The Hornets have been poor for some time, and their drop from chasing an unlikely European position to a spot on the fringes of the relegation race does stretch back to time Everton was repeatedly asking to hire Silva.

Funny thing: Perhaps letting him walk would’ve been the right decision.

What Silva did in the first quarter of this season and his lauded attempt to save Hull City last season may recall his overachievement at Estoril in Portugal, but the 40-year-old worked wonders at league powers Sporting CP and Olympiacos.

In the case of the latter, Silva led Thrylos to an absurd record of 38W-3D-7L before quitting after one season.

There’s another piece of the puzzle to consider, too: Watford under owner Gino Pozzo has been quick to change manager, which is a sign the club values — to quote longtime Buffalo basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon — “Jims and Joes more than x’s and o’s.”

As Sam Allardyce, the man who was hired by Everton, has joined Ronald Koeman as bosses unable to get the Toffees’ talented roster humming, it’s worth asking whether both Watford and Everton would’ve been better off had the Silva “transfer” went down at Goodison Park.

Watford has eight losses in 11 matches, handing three points to a variety of teams who’ve struggled to find wins this season: Swansea City, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Huddersfield Town. The Hornets have also drawn Southampton.

Everton under both Koeman and Allardyce has done the opposite: the Toffees have too much talent to religiously fail against the lower clubs. This season, which also saw a short run for caretaker boss David Unsworth, their wins are over Stoke City, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle and Swansea.

The Toffees big slump has seen a pair of draws with woeful West Bromwich Albion and a loss at Bournemouth.

Which brings us back to Watford under Silva. Despite its long slump, the club is performing in a way more suited for Everton’s talent than the Hornets’ bunch (which certainly isn’t poor). Consider:

Consider that Watford has 49.5 percent possession on the season, behind only Man City, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Southampton (Everton has 46.4 and that number has regressed under Allardyce).

Also, Watford is ahead of Everton in pass completion percentage, shots per game, goals, shots allowed per game, and dribbles per game.

All this with the Toffees getting some of the finest goalkeeper performances in the league from Jordan Pickford. His 81 saves are second to Lukasz Fabianski and his seven in the six-yard box are joint-top with Mat Ryan.

So, yeah, Everton probably had the right idea in trying to get Silva, who was obviously interested in the job. The Toffees’ buys of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott are only going to up the ante at Goodison Park, and Allardyce does not have the record of getting talent to reach its potential (at least not in a decade).

Everton’s top performers this year according to advanced stats sites WhoScored and Squawka are ranked 82nd in the Premier League (Mason Holgate) and 103rd in the league (Ashley Williams), respectively.

All this goes to not just say that Silva has done a decent job at Watford, but beg why they’ve decided to fire the boss midway through a transfer window. And considering the Hornets would’ve received compensation of some sort for the move, it’s even more of a head scratcher

Multiple reports: Watford set to hire Gracia as manager

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Watford looks set to appoint Javi Gracia to its managerial position, hours after firing Marco Silva and blaming Everton for the manager.

[ MORE: Watford fires Silva, blames Everton ]

Gracia led Malaga to eighth and ninth place finishes in La Liga between 2014-16 before spending last season at Rubin Kazan.

Gracia, 47, has led promotion campaigns in Spain and has plenty of experience with perceived smaller clubs battling the drop zone.

Watford will hope the Hornets don’t reach that point, still five points clear of the drop after flirting with the Top Seven for the first quarter of the Premier League season.

Latest: Sunday medicals for Mkhitaryan, Sanchez

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan has agreed to join Arsenal from Manchester United, clearing the path for Alexis Sanchez to join the Old Trafford set.

[ MORE: 2 Robbies on the deal ]

The BBC is reporting that both players will undergo medicals at their proposed new clubs on Sunday ahead of a straight swap deal.

Sanchez, 29, has scored 80 goals for Arsenal since arriving before the 2014-15 campaign, including 30 last season.

Mkhitaryan turns 30 this summer, and has struggled at Manchester United since posting five assists in his first three matches of the season.

[ MORE: Watford sacks Silva ]

He was, however, a combination of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in his final season at Borussia Dortmund, scoring 23 goals with 32 assists.

This could be win-win, as Mkhitaryan at his best is a like-for-like replacement for Mesut Ozil should the German leave in the summer and Sanchez is a more proven PL commodity (though his attitude should be a major question for the United room).