Fulham – Sheffield United: Fulham made another move toward a great escape while telling Sheffield United to forget about theirs in a 1-0 win at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
A Cottagers team that allowed 10 goals in its first three Premier League matches has three clean sheets in its last four matches and now sits three points back of Newcastle after Ademola Lookman scored the lone goal in London.
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The Magpies have played one fewer match and are the bottom three’s biggest target, but Sheffield United remains 14 points back of Newcastle with just 39 available to them the rest of the way. Brighton has one more point than Newcastle, with both playing one fewer match than the bottom three heading into Sunday.
Three things we learned from Fulham – Sheffield United
1. Plenty good from Fulham: The Cottagers had drawn nine times in their last 13 league outings and a 10th would’ve been just awful. Thank Lookman for that, but the fact is that Scott Parker’s angsty Fulham has been so difficult to beat after a terrible start to the season. It took him some time to get his late-arriving batch of defenders comfortable with the system, but Fulham’s losses since a dreadful 1-1-7 start to the season read: at Man City, versus Chelsea, versus Manchester United, and versus a Leicester City they beat at the King Power Stadium in November.
2. Lookman looks the part: It feels like there should be special honors for English players who have megawatt expectations thrust on them at a tender age, don’t quite find that level young, but figure it out and become a productive Premier League player. Lookman at 23 feels like one of those and you wouldn’t rule out stardom for the electric former Everton academy starlet, but his fourth goal of this season is his second that secured points against their basement-dwelling rivals. He’s now within sight of his best season in terms of production, with four goals and three assists compared to the eight and four he produced between Everton and RB Leipzig in 2017-18.
3. Say goodnight to the Blades: Sheffield United’s unfortunate and often unlucky season has proven too much to bear, and the Blades gained another notorious historical marker Saturday when they became the first PL team to lose 20 of their first 25 matches. Chris Wilder’s men have beaten Newcastle and West Brom, results that may ultimately doom those two, but otherwise collected just five points: three at Manchester United (?!?) and one each from Fulham and Brighton. In case you’re keeping score, that’s points against the current 2nd-, 16th-, 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-placed teams. Not so good, Al.
Man of the Match: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Fulham can know that Zambo Anguissa is likely going to keep them safe. Failing that, their midfield difference-maker will catch them a king’s ransom on the transfer market. Physical and also technical, Zambo Anguissa passed at better than 90 percent while completing 11-of-12 dribbles as part of 14-of-19 duels won. He’s very, very good, and still pretty young. It wasn’t that long ago that his club record transfer accompanied by the signing of Jean-Michael Seri felt like an instant security blanket for the promoted Cottagers ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Fulham – Sheffield United recap
There were limited moments of real danger in the opening half hour, Ademola Lookman cueing up an Ivan Cavaleiro shot over the Blades goal in the 36th.
The next best chance came early in the second half when Fulham’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek danced deep into the box and beat Aaron Ramsdale only to see George Baldock clear the ball off the line.
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Leave it to Lookman to get a deserved opener. He chested down a diagonal ball and got close range with Ramsdale, not giving the keeper a chance to think with a vicious strike.
Alphonse Areola made a fine low save on Enda Stevens when Billy Sharp slipped the back into the left of the Fulham 18.
Ola Aina tried his luck from 25 yards but only produced a corner when Ramsdale slapped the ball over the goal.