|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
West Ham’s Felipe Anderson underlines Claudio Ranieri’s problems at Fulham
John Brewin at Craven Cottage
Date Published Sat 15 Dec 2018 19.33 GMT
Claudio Ranieri’s reign at Fulham has been less “new manager bounce”, more the dull thud of the reality that he has inherited a squad not suited to the Premier League. Four points from the five matches he has presided over is not a collection rate that will keep Fulham from the Championship.
The Italian pronounced this the best performance of that short reign but his statistical read-out of the game pinpointed where West Ham had won the match. “We shoot at goal 16 times,” said Ranieri. “They created two counterattacks and they scored. Our counterattack was not good.” Another pair of bald statistics are that Fulham stayed bottom of the Premier League and have not kept a clean sheet in their last 21 top-division matches.
Felipe Anderson was the difference, supplying the key passes that turned those counterattacks into West Ham’s two goals. For the first, smashed in by Robert Snodgrass from the edge of the box in the 17th minute, Anderson’s turn of foot and change of pace left the Fulham right-back Denis Odoi for dead, allowing him time to lay up Snodgrass to score. For the second, 12 minutes later, with Odoi again left chasing shadows on the touchline, Anderson’s cross teed up Javier Hernández to flick the ball on for Michail Antonio to slot in.
Both goals came against the run of play. Fulham were on the attack throughout the first half, with Aboubakar Kamara having the best of the chances, but were unable to beat Lukasz Fabianski; the Polish goalkeeper is another big reason for West Ham being on their upward curve.
The spirit Ranieri had hailed in his programme notes appeared to have been extinguished by half-time. As the sodden conditions the game was played in turned to ice, so did the game. West Ham saw out the second 45 minutes with ease, bar one hurried clearance from Fabián Balbuena after Tom Cairney had escaped to the byline. Fulham’s previous bustle had been extinguished.
As Declan Rice strolled through midfield the home team were accepting of their fate. Anderson had a chance to score the goal his performance deserved but his header was weak.
With four wins from their last four matches, the club’s best run since February 2014, Pellegrini has his team playing something along the mythical lines of the “West Ham Way”. They are scoring goals and also likely to concede at any moment even if they did see out this London derby with a clean sheet collected with efficiency.
After the painful austerity under Slaven Bilic and David Moyes last season the away fans’ audible enjoyment suggested a club happy in its own company. That has rarely been the case since they moved to the London Stadium in the summer of 2016.
The noisy contingent from east London even sang their manager’s name for the first time, which Pellegrini said he was “very happy” to hear. “When we started the season so bad I never felt any negative reaction,” he said, in reference to West Ham losing their first four matches. “We know last season was not easy so I think they deserve this.”
They ended the day just two points off sixth-placed Manchester United. And in Anderson the Hammers may have a new hero in the club’s classic mould; his brilliance cannot always be counted on but he is a player capable of a hot streak. Pellegrini spoke of Anderson delivering “four or five decisive performances” before then preaching characteristic caution.
“It was important for him to learn what the Premier League is,” said the Chilean. “And Felipe still needs to improve a little.” With Marko Arnautovic absent until the new year, and Andriy Yarmolenko out longer still, a considerable burden has fallen on Anderson but he appears capable of shouldering it.
Ranieri has no such luxury. The habit of his long career has been to bolt his teams’ back door but he is working with a group of players incapable of doing that.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, LIVE LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Fulham (4-3-3): Rico 5; Odoi 5, Mawson 5.5, Ream 5 (Christie 46), Bryan 6; Chambers 6, Seri 6 (Johansen 61); Cairney 6.5, Kamara 5, Schurrle 6 (Kebano 77); Mitrovic 6;
Subs not used: Bettinelli, Ayite, Vietto, Cisse
Booked: Seri, Johansen
Manager: Claudio Ranieri 6
West Ham (4-4-2): Fabianksi 7; Zabaleta 7, Diop 6.5, Balbuena 7, Masuaku 7; Snodgrass 7.5, Noble 7.5 (Obiang 62), Rice 7.5; Anderson 8; Antonio 7 (Diangana 85), Hernandez 6.5 (Carroll 73);
Subs not used: Cresswell, Adrian, Ogbonna, Xande Silva
Scorers: Snodgrass (17), Antonio (29)
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini 7
Referee: Mike Dean