Britain Soccer Premier League

Fulham 1-0 Norwich City: Great escape is on for the Cottagers (video)

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Fulham secured a crucial 1-0 victory over Norwich City at Craven Cottage on Saturday thanks to a lone goal from Hugo Rodallega.

For the second-straight game the Colombian was the match winner, as he hit home just before half time to put Fulham two points behind Norwich in the race against the drop.

Norwich pushed hard the entire game and in fairness a draw would’ve probably been a fair result. Robert Snodgrass hit the bar and some wonderful last-ditch defending from Fulham, coupled with superb stops from ‘keeper David Stockdale,

Fulham sealed their first back-to-back wins since October as Felix Magath’s side are in 18th spot on 30 points, just two points and one place behind Norwich who have four extremely hard game left to save themselves from dropping into the bottom three.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Early on Norwich City pressed Fulham high up the pitch and Nathan Redmond was lively out on the wing as the Canaries started sharply. Rodallega had two decent chances for the home side but the forward dragged an effort just wide of John Ruddy’s goal as the Cottagers settled into the match.

David Stockdale then made two terrific stops to keep the scores level, as Ricky van Wolfswinkel was first denied, then Leroy Fer saw his header spectacularly saved from the resulting corner. Norwich continued to push and in the 34th minute Robert Snodgrass saw his free kick smash against the bar, with Fulham hanging on as half time approached.

Fulham then hit Norwich with a sucker punch five minutes before the break as Rodallega headed home Lewis Holtby’s free kick as the Canaries’ slack marking was punished ruthlessly by the Colombian striker. After the break Rodallega hit the post with Olsson clearing on the line as Kieran Richardson’s corner caused havoc amongst the Canaries defense.

Norwich went for it in the second half as the Canaries poured forward at every attempt. Snodgrass was thwarted by a lunging last-ditch tackle from Hangeland and several corners were whipped in that Norwich’s center back Turner couldn’t quite get on the end of. Norwich pressed, hassled and harried Fulham for the entire second half but the Cottagers managed to hold on for a marvelous victory that gives them hope of survival.


Fulham: Stockdale; Heitinga, Hangeland, Amorebieta, Richardson; Kasami (Dejagah, 57′, Riether, Diarra (Kvist, 85′), Sidwell, Holtby (Parker, 69′); Rodallega

Goal: Rodallega (40′)

Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Olsson; Redmond, Johnson, Fer (Hoolahan, 68′), Howson (Murphy, 79′), Snodgrass; van Wolfswinkel (Hooper, 60′)

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.