Chelsea’s Kepa stars in tight win at Fulham (video)

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  • Chelsea’s first away win of 2019
  • Back-to-back PL wins for Chelsea
  • Fulham 10 points from safety

Chelsea edged past battling Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday, as Maurizio Sarri‘s men remain in the top four hunt.

Gonzalo Higuain and Jorginho put Chelsea ahead twice in the first half as Calum Chambers had briefly put Fulham level. The Cottagers, coached by interim boss Scott Parker who replaced Claudio Ranieri on Thursday, battled until the end and almost snatched a draw on several occasions late on but Kepa Arrizabalaga made some great stops.

With the win Chelsea move on to 56 points and are two points off the top four with a game in hand. Fulham remain in 19th place and are 10 points from safety with nine games to go.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The first big chance of the game arrived for Chelsea as Eden Hazard whipped in a cross but Higuain nodded just wide.

At the other end there was a real moment of worry for Kepa — recalled to the lineup after the incident during the League Cup final last Sunday — as he dropped a routine cross but Ryan Babel failed to spot the opportunity and could have had a tap in. Chelsea were ahead moments later.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Cesar Azpilicueta got free on the right flank and pulled back a perfect ball for Higuain to sweep home at the near post and put Chelsea 1-0 up.

Just when it seemed like Chelsea were going to have an easy game, Fulham came roaring back as Aleksandar Mitrovic‘s volley was superbly tipped over by Kepa and from the resulting corner Fulham were level. A cross to the back post found Chambers completely unmarked and he volleyed home to make it 1-1.

Jorginho then restored Chelsea’s lead a few minutes later, as he slotted home a superb finish from outside of the box to make it 2-1. Sergio Rico denied Hazard and Higuain before half time, as Chelsea were in control but Fulham were still in the game.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The second half followed the same theme as Chelsea dominated the play but Fulham looked threatening.

Willian slammed a shot into the side-netting as Chelsea pushed hard to put the game to bed, but Fulham threatened on the break as Mitrovic curled just over.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Late on Kepa sprung to action as he denied Tom Cairney, Ryan Sessegnon and Joe Bryan, while Sessegnon had the ball in the back of the net in the 94th minute but he was correctly called offside.

After a tough week, Chelsea hung on for a big win.

Southampton ease past sorry Fulham (video)

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  • Romeu, Ward-Prowse score goals
  • Saints two points above bottom three
  • Fulham 10 points from safety
  • Cottagers yet to win away

Southampton beat Fulham 2-0 at St Mary’s on Wednesday to drag themselves out of the relegation zone and pour more misery on the Cottagers.

First half goals from Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse did the business for Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side, while Fulham’s fans booed Claudio Ranieri and mocked their players throughout a woeful display.

Their status as a Premier League club is now in real jeopardy as they failed to turn up for a game they had to win to have any chance of staying up. Fulham are now 10 points from safety with 10 games to go.

With the win Saints now have 27 points and move two points above Cardiff, while Fulham have 17 points and remain in 19th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Saints had plenty of the ball early on with Nathan Redmond smashing over after some smart footwork.

Calum Chambers had a shot deflected wide after a wonderful flowing move from Fulham, then Redmond had a shot deflected over as the game got going.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Charlie Austin almost got on the end of a Ryan Bertrand cross before half time and from the resulting corner Saints took the lead. Bertrand’s corner caught Segio Rico flapping at it and Oriol Romeu’s shot from outside the box deflected in. 1-0.

Before the break Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg sent a shot from the edge of the box inches wide as Saints took control of the game. Fulham were a threat on the break as Aleksandar Mitrovic turned well in the box but Yan Valery blocked the shot and then Mitrovic fired over.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

However, Saints got their second goal before the interval after good pressure forced Fulham into a mistake and Ward-Prowse followed up Redmond’s shot after Rico parried it. 2-0.

At the start of the second half Redmond was found with a short free kick but he dragged his shot wide with Saints attackers unable to get on the end of it.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Saints had several chances to stretch their lead but Fulham almost made it interesting as Ryan Babel hit the crossbar with a shot.

The Fulham fans then vented their frustration at Claudio Ranieri and Director of Football Operations Tony Khan in the final moments, as the Cottagers are now in a huge amount of trouble in 19th place.

Fulham stun Brighton with wild comeback (video)

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  • Brighton led 2-0 at half time
  • Fulham score four times in second half
  • First win in 4 PL games for Fulham

Fulham launched an amazing second half comeback to beat Brighton 4-2 at a snowy Craven Cottage.

Brighton scored twice early on through Glenn Murray, but Fulham came roaring back in the second half as Calum Chambers and Luciano Vietto scored one each and Aleksandar Mitrovic grabbed a double.

With the win Fulham and Claudio Ranieri are now just four points from safety, while Brighton’s slump down the table continues.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brighton got off to the best possible start as Murray swept home Martin Montoya’s cross wonderfully to make it 1-0.

At the other end Maxime Le Marchand went close for the hosts, but Fulham just couldn’t get going.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Brighton doubled their lead before half time as a cross from the right was only half cleared and Pascal Gross flicked the ball towards goal where the wily fox Murray was waiting to flick home. 2-0.

Ryan Babel drilled a wonderful low shot from distance which Mat Ryan pushed away as Fulham pushed hard to get back in the game. Murray almost bagged his hat trick but Sergio Rico saved well and at the other end Andre Schurrle had a shot brilliantly cleared by Shane Duffy. Davy Propper then smashed the crossbar as Brighton almost put the game to bed.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

At the start of the second half Fulham got the goal they craved, as Mitrovic nodded down and Chambers smashed home to make it 2-1. Game on.

Mitrovic almost bundled home a second Fulham goal moments later as the Cottagers built up a head of steam. Gross almost got on the end of a Brighton break, then Fulham substitute Luciano Vietto went close as his shot was deflected. From the resulting corner Fulham were level.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

After the corner was cleared, another ball looped into the box and Mitrovic pounced to head home and make it 2-2.

Fulham were flying late on and Jean Michel Seri went so close to putting them ahead but his low curled hit the post and came back out. Murray was then denied a hat trick goal by Rico with a wonderful stop, and a key moment arrived soon after.

Mitrovic put home another header to make it 3-2 to Fulham to spark wild scenes of celebration at Craven Cottage, and late on it got even better as Vietto made it 4-2.

What a comeback from the Cottagers to breath new life into their relegation scrap.

Arsenal facing depth problems as Ramsey weighs giant offers

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Will Arsenal regret its player prioritization when it comes to Aaron Ramsey?

The Gunners are likely to lose the 28-year-old Welsh midfielder for nothing, and soon, as Ramsey is reportedly talking with five of the biggest clubs in Europe.

[ REPORT: Barca agrees with De Jong ]

The BBC says Ramsey has not agreed with Juventus, as had been reported, and that Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Juve, Paris St-Germain and Real Madrid are all in the mix.

Ramsey reunited with Gareth Bale? Go on…

The midfielder has made 352 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 60 goals, and has 52 caps with 14 goals for Wales.

The report says Ramsey would only be allowed to move in January for $51 million, and also has a lot of tough realities for Arsenal supporters. For one, the club reportedly thinks it cannot compete with the top sides this season (though we saw the Liverpool match, so it’s not like that’s a mind-blowing assertion).

Gunners owner Stan Kroenke will reportedly not sanction any big January deals and would risk breaching Financial Fair Play if he did, opting to look into loans like Barcelona’s Denis Suarez.

They also don’t want to recall Calum Chambers from loan at Fulham because it will take a fee, and they don’t want to “disrupt the progress” of Reiss Nelson at Hoffenheim.

Fifth-place Arsenal is just three points ahead of Manchester United, and is alive in the FA Cup and Europa League. Depth will be critical, but looks unlikely to improve next month.

PL Preview: Fulham v. West Ham

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  • Fulham has won 3 of the last 4 games vs West Ham at home
  • West Ham has not won 4 PL games in a row since 2014
  • Fulham has gone 20 PL games without a clean sheet, conceding 51 goals in that span

Fulham begins a critical four-game stretch, sitting bottom of the Premier League table and needing points as they host West Ham at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, live on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Whites’ next four matches see them take on the Hammers, followed by games against Newcastle, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Huddersfield Town. They sit in the basement of the standings, but are just four points from safety. Fulham has secured four points in four matches under new manager Claudio Ranieri, but were also thoroughly beaten by both Chelsea and Manchester United, meaning the games against fellow relegation candidates are becoming more and more critical.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is unavailable after a controversial second yellow card against Manchester United saw him sent for an early shower. Maxime Le Marchand is a big miss for the Whites, out with an undisclosed muscular injury, but that is the extent of their unavailable list as Calum Chambers, Floyd Ayite, Andre Schurrle, and Kevin McDonald are all ready to go, Ranieri confirmed.

Meanwhile, Jack Wilshere will miss his third straight match for West Ham as he recovers from an ankle injury, and Lucas Perez is likely unavailable due to a cut on his foot, but otherwise the Hammers are fully fit as they look for an opportunity to move into the top half of the table.

West Ham was in the bottom third of the table for much of the first few months of the season, but they have climbed to 11th with a run of seven matches that features just one loss. That includes a current three-match winning streak that has seen West Ham drop three relegation candidates in Newcastle, Cardiff City, and Crystal Palace, by a combined 9-3 score. With Fulham up this weekend followed by matches against Watford, Southampton, Burnley, and Brighton, this is the time for the Hammers to pick up a swath of points and brace for a grueling final third of the season.

What they’re saying

Ranieri on Fulham’s lack of a clean sheet this season: “The players are improving a lot with my tactics. It’s normal they need time to understand everything. Sooner or later, we’ll keep a clean sheet – I hope it’s sooner rather than later.”

Pellegrini on playing a team near the bottom: “I said last week, the most stupid thing we can do is to believe that because we are playing against teams near the bottom of the table we will win. We must be very careful, thinking game by game.”

Video Preview

Prediction

While West Ham is playing well, they will be up against a team that knows this four-game stretch is critical. Still, Fulham’s midfield is a complete mess, and they have lots to work on. The defense is a bad matchup for a Hammers side on a roll in front of net. That run will continue, as West Ham wins 3-1 behind another big attacking performance.