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Fulham boss Ranieri acknowledges fan unrest amid relegation fight

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Claudio Ranieri is losing the battle against relegation at the helm of Fulham, but that’s not all he’s losing. The fans are turning on him as well.

Fulham fans jeered Ranieri’s substitutions during the 3-0 defeat to Manchester United, and he recognized their unrest in his post-match media availability.

“I know the fans were not happy but I had two players with flu in the week, including Andre Schurrle,” Ranieri said. “I can understand the fans always want their players to play but it’s not always possible. We will work to try and win our next two games. We’re always positive.”

While Fulham fans have taken to Schurrle – winner of January’s Premier League Goal of the Month award for his stunner against Burnley – that’s not all they’re upset about. Fan favorites Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon were both unused substitutes against Manchester United, even with the team playing from behind early on.

Ranieri has said publicly he wishes to play far more direct than his predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic, who became well-liked for his free-flowing, possession-based style of play, to which Cairney and Sessegnon were vastly important. Now, with Ranieri’s style far from that which saw Fulham win promotion to the Premier League under Jokanovic, he has left Cairney and Sessegnon on the bench for multiple matches, causing Fulham fans to question the Italian’s decision-making.

While those two are ball-playing midfielders who are less useful in a more direct setup, they are vital players to the club for the last three seasons, leaving fans wondering whether the manager should adapt more to the squad’s best players. Fans also have become attached to Jokanovic’s style of play, and many opposed the decision to let him go in November, fairly or unfairly giving Ranieri an even shorter lead, and coupled with just one win and five defeats in the last six matches under the new style of play, fans are beginning to lose patience quickly.

What’s more, the club’s porous defense – the worst in the top five European leagues by goals conceded – has capitulated early in matches, conceding inside the opening half-hour in four of their last five matches, including a 14th-minute goal by Paul Pogba that began the Old Trafford defeat on Saturday, with Anthony Martial scoring nine minutes later to double the lead. Cairney and Sessegnon both came off the bench in that game, but not until the final 13 minutes.

Claudio Ranieri on Fulham’s relegation battle

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Claudio Ranieri‘s Fulham lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace and are now seven points from safety in the Premier League.

The Cottagers missed a big early chance as Aleksandar Mitrovic headed wide, and they never recovered from Cyrus Christie handling in the box to give away a cheap penalty kick.

Speaking after the game, Ranieri made a point of saying Fulham were in trouble when he arrived back in November.

“The first half was good until the penalty, we had the match in our hands. We controlled the match. The penalty changed the match. They deserved to win in the second half, they were better than us. They had three or four chances – well done to Roy.

“The service to Mitrovic was not good enough. We spoke a lot about crosses, crosses, crosses. I tried to do something – I put another striker on but it wasn’t good. We were in trouble from the beginning but we will continue to be positive, be strong. It’s important to be optimistic. We have a target in our mind.”

That last part just sounds like Ranieri trying to remind everyone that Fulham were in deep trouble when he replaced Slavisa Jokanovic. And they were.

But Fulham have only picked up three wins in Ranieri’s 13 PL games in charge and although they had plenty of the ball at Selhurst Park they couldn’t penetrate Palace’s defense at all. Going forward, for once, they struggled but it was the same story at the back as defensive mistakes are costing them dear.

With games against Man United, West Ham, Southampton, Chelsea, West Ham, Liverpool and Man City in their next seven, it is tough to see where the points are coming from for Fulham to get themselves out of trouble.

Fulham skipper Tom Cairney bemoaned their mistake in the first half against Palace and summed up the magnitude of the task ahead.

“A sloppy penalty gave them something to hold on to, that’s frustrating. They were as desperate as us for the points,” Cairney said. “We need wins. Quite a few wins. I think it will be less than 40 points to stay up this year. I am confident we can do it, we have got to believe.”

Gunners school Fulham on New Year’s Day

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  • Xhaka strikes first, 25′
  • Lacazette caps team goal
  • Kamara pulls one back
  • Ramsey puts it to bed

Arsenal responded to its weekend drubbing by turning the lopsided score line on Fulham with a 4-1 win at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

Granit Xhaka, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all scored for the Gunners, who move two points back of fourth-place Chelsea.

Aboubakar Kamara scored for Fulham, who remain 19th with 14 points.

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Arsenal was on the front foot from Moment No. 1, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was closely-marked by American defender Tim Ream as he popped an Alex Iwobi pass over the goal from close range.

The visitors nearly surprised when Tom Cairney opened up Ryan Sessegnon on the counter attack, but the youngster missed the far post after beating Bernd Leno.

If Sessegnon could’ve scored the first, he should’ve scored the next: Andre Schurrle swept a gorgeous effort around the Arsenal back line but the winger totally missed the ball.

And how often do you see it? The underdogs miss a chance to go ahead, snapping the favorites into life. Xhaka was the man in the middle to push an Iwobi pass beyond the reach of Rico.

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Lacazette made it 2-0 on the business end of a terrific team goal off a throw-in. Aubameyang and Sead Kolasinac were the last two to play the ball en route to the Frenchman for his 56th minute finish.

Jean-Michael Seri cued up Mitrovic for a 69th minute chance, but the Serbian nodded right to Leno.

This time, Fulham responded to the danger by scoring. Kamara got on the end of a Sessegnon cross after Seri stole the ball and set the wheels in motion.

Ramsey restored order with a calm finish into the side netting when a loose ball came his way in the 79th minute.

Rico stayed big to block a 1v1 Aubameyang chip in the 82nd, but was defied when the same striker’s deflected shot hit the back of the net in the 83rd.

Another win for West Ham

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  • West Ham 7-3-3 since 0-4 start
  • Felipe, Snodgrass shine for WHUFC
  • Fulham 1-1-3 under Ranieri

Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio scored first half goals as West Ham United won its fourth-consecutive Premier League match with a 2-0 defeat of Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

The win boosts the Irons into ninth place, two points back of sixth place Manchester United. They next host Watford before visiting Southampton, then Burnley away and Brighton home.

Fulham remains dead last with nine points, three behind of 17th place Burnley.

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Andre Schurrle hit a hard effort just over the cross bar in the ninth minute, as Fulham did not enter the game with a spirit of the bottom side in the Premier League.

Aboubakar Kamara was then played through by Aleksandar Mitrovic, but Lukasz Fabianski made a fine save to keep West Ham’s sheet clean.

The Hammers, however, struck first. Snodgrass has either been scoring or setting up goals for weeks, and this one was a left-footed beauty.

Mitrovic came close to leveling the score when he dashed onto Joe Bryan‘s chip across the box, but his flying header zipped wide of the far post.

The Hammers took their second chance of the game in style, with Antonio at the back post to lash a flick from Javier Hernandez past Sergio Rico.

Tom Cairney made a nice move into the box to force a corner in the 67th minute, but West Ham cleared the danger.

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Leicester deny Ranieri’s Fulham victory

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  • Kamara put Fulham ahead
  • Maddison equalized
  • Fulham remain bottom of PL table
  • Leicester unbeaten in six games

Leicester City fought back to draw 1-1 at Fulham on Wednesday, as Claudio Ranieri had to settle for a point against his former team at Craven Cottage.

Aboubakar Kamara put Fulham ahead in the first half, but James Maddison equalized in the second half to grab a point for the Foxes.

Fulham move on to nine points for the season but stay bottom of the table, while Leicester remain in ninth place.

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The first big chance of the game fell to Leicester as Kelechi Iheanacho was played in by James Maddison, but Sergio Rico stood tall and made a big save. Fulham responded well, as a free kick dropped down to Calum Chambers and his shot across goal was tipped wide superbly by Kasper Schmeichel.

At the other end Leicester threatened on the break and a cross into the box found Marc Albrighton, but his effort went over the bar.

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Leicester continued to create chances on the break and from set pieces, and skipper Wes Morgan nodded one of those on target but Rico saved as the Foxes battled their way into the game.

But it was Fulham who took the lead as Aleksandar Mitrovic flicked the ball forward and Kamara turned on the touchline and curled into the far corner to make it 1-0.

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Tom Cairney came on at half time for Fulham as the Cottagers sat back, soaked up pressure and hit Leicester on the break whenever they could.

Cairney smashed a shot inches wide as Fulham looked to try and seal the deal late on, but they couldn’t.

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Shinji Okazaki, one of Ranieri’s favorites in his Leicester days, pulled the ball back and Maddison rolled home his second goal in as many games to make it 1-1.

Maddison had a chance to win it late on but missed the target, and that would have been a little harsh on Fulham in an even encounter.