Fulham became the third and final team to be mathematically relegated from the Premier League this season after losing 2-0 to Burnley at Craven Cottage on Monday.
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Ashley Westwood and Chris Wood got the goals for Burnley, as Scott Parker’s side lost its season-long battle with relegation on its home turf in west London. Having been relegated two years ago, Fulham came back up at the first time of asking last season and will have to do so again in 2021-22.
3 things we learned: Fulham – Burnley
1. Defense was good enough for Fulham to stay up: Fulham’s defensive record (47 goals conceded in 35 games) puts them very much in the middle of the Premier League pack (13th-best). Even more impressive is Fulham’s defensive record over the last 20-plus games. After conceding 23 goals (2W-4D-8L) in their first 14 games, Fulham tightened things up at the back and managed to only concede roughly the same number of goals (24) in their next 21 games. A bit more defensive sturdiness early in the season would have gone a long way toward not digging an insurmountable hole for themselves.
2. … but the attack was an abomination: Of course, having the 2nd-worst goals record in the Premier League might have rendered such a thing useless anyway. 35 games played, 25 goals scored. Leading goalscorer: Bobby De Cordova-Reid (5). In the last 10 Premier League seasons, only Huddersfield Town (2017-18) managed to avoid relegation while scoring fewer than 30 goals, and few other sides did so without reaching the 35-goal mark. Clint Dempsey isn’t walking through that door.
3. The difference between Fulham and Burnley? Chris Wood: If Wood played for Fulham, not only would he have given the Cottagers the dozen goals he’s scored this season, but he probably would have pushed closer to the 15- or 18-goal mark given the relatively massive difference in midfield quality at Craven Cottage.
The goal that ultimately send Fulham down came in the 35th minute, and the Cottagers appeared as helpless and adrift as they have for the majority of the season as the sequence played out almost in slow-motion. Matej Vydra danced around a defender to reach the end line and cut inside before laying the ball into acres of space between the six and 18. There wasn’t a soul in a white shirt anywhere near, giving Westwood a free pass to fire on goal.
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Burnley got a second not long before halftime — in the 44th minute — and in fairness, there wasn’t much they could have done to prevent. Chris Wood received a bouncing ball from Joshua Brownhill near the top of the box and leathered a right-footed strike into the upper-90 where Alphonse Areola couldn’t possibly reach.