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.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

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.

Jokanovic labels Fulham players as “confused” and “scared” after Huddersfield loss

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Slavisa Jokanovic is under fire after Fulham fell bottom of the Premier League table following a 1-0 loss to Huddersfield Town.

Fulham fell to its sixth straight defeat across all competitions, failing to score for 326 straight minutes. In addition, the club has conceded 29 goals through 11 matches this season, the most goals conceded among all of the Top 5 European leagues. The goal conceded against Huddersfield was the first home goal the Terriers had scored in 659 straight minutes.

Jokanovic, who led Fulham to a 29-match winning streak last season in the Championship, slammed his players’ attitude in the Huddersfield loss, as it was evident the opponent was clearly more motivated throughout the match.

“I don’t know if it’s preparation of the game wasn’t good enough or if they didn’t understand how important this game was, like all the games are in the Premier League,” Jokanovic said in the post-match press conference. “At the end we were confused, I don’t know if some players were a bit scared of this kind of responsibility that was in front of us, and we didn’t perform enough. But to perform, you don’t need to be so talented to fight and show energy where we are competing in Premier League game.”

However, Jokanovic singled out young winger Ryan Sessegnon for his spirit during the defeat. “This is my sensation that many responsibilities are in front of youngest man in my team, Ryan Sessegnon tried push and tried forcing the situation,” Jokanovic said. “Other people need to offer more fight, personality, more quality and more work. If players have some kind of words after the game between them, but it’s a bit late.”

Sessegnon, still just 18 years old and coming off a season where he scored 15 Championship goals, was dangerous down the left despite playing from a position along the defensive line. Meanwhile, the midfield failed to make any sort of impact on the game, and with Huddersfield pinching Fulham to force the Whites into their weak central area. Andre-Zambo Anguissa struggled to win balls back in midfield, while captain Tom Cairney and expensive signing Jean-Michael Seri failed to prove influential.

Overall, the team that led the Championship in possession last season managed just a single shot on target the entire match. “If players have some kind of words after the game between them, but it’s a bit late,” Jokanovic said about the ability for the players to hold each other accountable. “We have opportunity to talk between 8 and 10 [PM GMT] and we didn’t talk enough with enough personality or power or with quality. At the end, we are hurt, we didn’t satisfy our level and the situation is in our hands for working hard and for improvement.”

PL Preview: Fulham vs. Watford

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  • Fulham has conceded at least 2 goals in its last 9 PL games
  • Watford has lost 8 straight PL matches in London
  • Fulham will become the 15th English team to reach 500 PL games

One team still sorting out the kinks, one team is off to a blistering start.

Fulham hopes to shore things up as the Whites host fourth-placed Watford at Craven Cottage Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com. The hosts have been porous defensively, with 12 goals allowed through the first five matches of the season, the most in the Premier League.

[ WATCH LIVE: Fulham vs. Watford live on NBCSports.com ]

Still, manager Slavisa Jokanovic has rebuffed calls to set the tactics up more defensively, instead calling on his team to be “more brave” as the season rolls on, pushing forward with the “offense is the best defense” mindset. Jokanovic, who coached Watford to promotion in 2015 but left before Premier League play after failing to agree to a new deal, has been praised for his steadfastness in his tactical style but also criticized for the early results.

Watford took time to find true stability in the Premier League without Jokanovic, finishing one place above relegation last season, but under Javi Gracia the Hornets have sprung to life over the past few weeks. Gracia is the one with stability now, having named the exact same starting lineup for every Premier League game so far, and Watford could become only the fifth English club ever to name the same starting lineup for the first six games of a Premier League season. Gerard Deulofeu and Tom Cleverley are both long-term absentees, while Nathaniel Chalobah is the only real question mark as he recovers from a serious knee injury, and he is likely to return to the squad, Gracia said.

The Fulham squad, on the other hand, is a mess. Captain Tom Cairney is out with an ankle injury, a massive miss for a team that focuses on possession and build-up. American defender Tim Ream is also out with a knee problem, back in training finally but still yet to debut this season after winning the club’s Player of the Season award last year. Without Ream, Jokanovic has struggled to find his best defensive partnership, with Denis Odoi plus new signings Calum Chambers, Maxim Le Marchand, and Alfie Mawson all showing weaknesses. The Whites are also without winger Neeskens Kebano who suffered an ankle injury in a Cup match against Exeter City in late August.

What they’re saying

Fulham manager Jokanovic on his team’s attacking mentality: “People are asking if we can be a little more pragmatic but, for me, being pragmatic is being brave. The brave choice for me is the best way to win the game. I think we are still not brave enough. Why would we be scared, why are we not braver and trusting in ourselves?”

Watford manager Gracia on bouncing back from first loss: “They do not need good results to know the performances have been good and, in this moment, the players are confident they will be able to keep their performance levels up. We will try to keep our style of play, maintain our mentality and be aggressive.”

Prediction

Watford started the season with a bang, but have not kept a clean sheet since the second match of the year. That could pose problems facing a team that loves to push forward, and there should be goals in this match. It will likely end in a 2-2 draw.

Premier League Preview: Man City vs. Fulham

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  • Fulham has conceded 9 goals so far this season, one off the most in the league
  • Man City has scored 16 goals in its last 5 home league matches
  • Man City has beaten Fulham by a combined 10-0 over last 3 league meetings at the Etihad

Manchester City will host a discount version of itself as they meet Fulham at the Etihad Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com in a highly-anticipated clash of similar playing styles. It will be fascinating to see how this game progresses, as Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic insists the Whites will attempt to play their possession-based style even against the reigning Premier League champions.

Fulham led the Championship in possession the last two years under Slavisa Jokanovic before promotion, and this season they sit fourth in the Premier League in completed passes, above teams like Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Arsenal. Saturday’s meeting with City sees them match up against the side that sits second in the Premier League with 2,726 completed passes through four matches, 497 more than Fulham.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 5 ]

Manchester City has its full compliment of players aside from Kevin De Bruyne and Claudio Bravo who are out with long-term injuries. Raheem Sterling left the England over the weekend with a back injury, but Pep Guardiola says the 23-year-old is healthy enough to return to selection for City. Danilo is back in training as well, but may not have the match fitness to play this weekend.

The visitors will be without playmaking force Tom Cairney, a big loss for a team that requires a centralized creator in the attacking half. Also missing for the Cottagers is winger Neeskins Kebano, who is dealing with an ankle problem. Finally, American defender Tim Ream is still absent with a nagging thigh injury that is taking longer to heal than initially thought, still yet to debut this season.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Fulham – “I’m really impressed. I had two weeks watching them. I saw three games. They have good players – [Jean Michael] Seri, and players in the front like [Aleksandar] Mitrovic. It’s not just long balls and channels, they want to make their own game. I’m pretty sure they’ll have a good season.”

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic on Pep Guardiola – “No, I don’t use his style of football, I try use my style or use my players. He’s one of the most experienced and successful managers. He’s shown a similar style in different places, he’s shown it’s possible to play that way in different competitions. All the credit to him; he made really important steps in the game. But to copy people is not good. It’s not easy for us to match this level. We try to find our way, we try to adapt ourselves, we try to interpret what we have in our hands.”

Prediction

Fulham is going to take it to some teams, but in games like this, it’s hard to see them stepping up to the competition. These are the games they will struggle in – against teams similar to their style. The Fulham defense has been a work in progress in Ream’s absence, with new signings Maxim Le Marchand, Alfie Mawson, and Calum Chambers all still working to to settle into new roles. Manchester City should feast, and it could finish at an ugly 4-1.

Fulham captain Cairney out injured “a few weeks”

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Fulham will have to do without captain and playmaker Tom Cairney for some time, as manager Slavisa Jokanovic confirmed he suffered a foot injury recently.

“Tom Cairney is going to be unavailable for the Brighton game,” Jokanovic told the media during his pre-match press conference ahead of Fulham’s match on Saturday against Brighton & Hove Albion. “He has a foot injury and we still need to assess him but it is our expectation that he will be unavailable for a few weeks. We must assess him, he is going to be out for a few weeks. Yes, this is a big loss for us.”

The Scottish international was critical to the Whites’ promotion campaign last season, the heartbeat of the club’s possessional attack. However, he has had some injury problems over the past few years that have limited his production. Last season, he made 34 Championship appearances, but was limited early on due to a knee injury. He returned in November, although he took another month to truly find himself fully fit.

Jokanovic has a few options to replace Cairney in his absence. Two-way midfielder Stefan Johansen could take his place off the bench, or Andre Schurrle could move from the wing to the middle in an attacking role. A more fringe option could be young American midfielder Luca De La Torre, who has made recent waves out of the Fulham academy and saw significant time in preseason.

Fulham had a spectacular summer transfer window, becoming the first newly promoted English club to spend over $100 million. However, they have struggled to put a full-strength starting lineup on the field at the beginning of the year. American center-back Tim Ream, last year’s Fulham Player of the Season has yet to make an appearance this season with a nagging injury, while new signing Alife Mawson just returned to action in the midweek Carabao Cup win over Exeter City. They also lost winger Neeskins Kebano who suffered an ankle injury during the Exeter City win.