Tom Cairney

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Premier League friendlies: Watford beats Bayer, Man Utd over Inter

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Arsenal and Fiorentina are set to kickoff in Charlotte tonight, with the Gunners the last of a bevy of Premier League sides to engage in preseason friendlies this muggy Saturday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]


Girona 1-2 Bournemouth

Juanpe’s late header pushed La Liga’s hosts past Eddie Howe and his 10-man Cherries, playing down after VAR deemed Jack Simpson‘s foul worthy of a sending off. Ryan Fraser scored Bournemouth’s goal, assisted by Jordon Ibe.

Northampton Town 0-4 Sheffield United

Oliver Norwood converted two penalties in an easy win for Chris Wilder in his return to a club he played for and managed.

Fulham 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Pascal Gross scored with an early free kick — a Megan Rapinoe special — but Tom Cairney scored twice after halftime for the Championship side.

Cheltenham Town 1-2 Leicester City

The Foxes collected a second win over a lower league side this week, with Jamie Vardy and Marc Albrighton on the board.

Newcastle United 1-0 West Ham United (Shanghai)

New manager Steve Bruce watched from the crowd as the Magpies made amends for a 4-0 loss to Wolves by blanking West Ham. Jamie Sterry‘s cross for Yoshinori Muto was delightful, and the Japanese striker’s finish was well-taken.

Port Vale 1-3 Burnley; Crewe Alexandra 0-1 Burnley

Chris Wood, Matej Vydra and Robbie Brady scored as the Clarets overcame an early Nick Pope goal to beat Port Vale, but the Premier League side couldn’t do much in a simultaneous friendly at Crewe.

Inter Milan 0-1 Manchester United (Singapore)

Substitute forward Mason Greenwood, just 17, scored the late goal in a match United controlled, outshooting Inter 21-8.

Preston North End 1-3 Southampton

Brace-bagging Danny Ings doesn’t usually have a problem with finish, so passing the ball directly to him is not something we’d recommend to goalkeepers. Jake Vokins also scored for Saints at Deepdale.

Watford 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Will Hughes and Andre Gray scored as the Hornets collected a win over Champions League competition.

Man City (0-0, 2-3 pens) Wolves (Shanghai)

Rui Patricio was very good over 90 minutes, and stopped City’s first two penalty attempts as Wolves continue to perplex the PL champions.

Fulham end losing streak, beat Everton (video)

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  • Fulham end run of nine-straight defeats
  • First defeat in 4 for Everton
  • Cairney, Babel score
  • Parker’s first win as caretaker boss

Already-relegated Fulham won their first game since Jan. 29, as the Cottagers beat Everton 2-0 on Saturday.

The Cottagers had plenty of chances and put two of them away in the second half, with Tom Cairney and Ryan Babel scoring to hand Fulham’s caretaker boss Scott Parker his first victory, and points, in charge.

With the win Fulham move on to 20 points for the season, while Everton remain on 46 points as their battle for a top seven finish took a hit.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Fulham were lively on the break early on but Everton went close as Andre Gomes fizzed a ball towards the near post which almost found Dominic Calvert-Lewin but Fulham cleared.

Mitrovic was making a nuisance of himself, as usual, and beat two Everton defenders and the offside trap but hit his shot right at Jordan Pickford.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Everton’s Bernard and Gomes then both had shots blocked after good play from Richarlison, and the end-to-end nature of the game continued.

From a corner Mitrovic sent in a towering header which Jordan Pickford brilliantly pushed over the bar. Mitrovic then hit the bar with a curling effort as the home side looked more dangerous heading into the second half.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At the start of the second half Fulham got the goal their dominance deserved, as Ryan Babel worked his way into the box and squared for Cairney to slot home.

At the other end Everton had a goal chalked off for a foul on Sergio Rico, while Fulham were dangerous going forward as Ryan Sessegnon had the ball in the net but it didn’t count as Mitrovic fouled Kurt Zouma.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Idrissa Gueye skied an effort way over when in a good position, and then Dominic Calvert-Lewin clipped the outside of the post after being played in superbly by Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Everton were made to rue those missed chances, as Babel raced clean through on goal and dinked over Pickford to make it 2-0.

The win was a deserved one for Fulham, as Everton lost ground in their battle for European qualification.

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.

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.”