Fulham 0-2 West Ham: Premier League – as it happened

Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio piled the misery on Claudio Ranieri’s rock-bottom Fulham team on a rainy evening at Craven Cottage.

And that’s all from me. Thanks for reading!

And here’s John Brewin’s match report from Craven Cottage:

Michail Antonio: “We’re definitely in good form. The gaffer’s brought in some good players and we’re starting to gel now, things are going well for us. Fulham threw everything at us today, but we kept a clean sheet. They didn’t have many opportunities and we kept playing, killing time, and won the game.”

Robert Snodgrass speaks: “In the first half we got a few chances, and against a team scrambling for points you need to take them. I’m delighted for Mikey [Antonio] because he’s had to bide his time. Four wins on the bounce is good, and it’s good to contribute and get some assists and goals. I’ve been lacking in that department this season, but just to be part in the team is great. We’re working hard on the training ground to get into that top 10 and mix it with the big boys.”

FULL-TIME: Fulham 0-2 West Ham

And that’s that. West Ham barely lifted a finger in that second half, which unlike the first was hugely comfortable for the visitors. Fulham remain well within reach of safety, but the way their confidence evaporated after a good start today hardly bodes well. As for West Ham, well, that’s another very convincing win indeed for Manuel Pellegrini – is it time to recognise that he’s a bit good…?

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91 mins: Kamara bustles messily into the box and wins a corner. Johansen takes, Fabianski claws at it, and the ball pinballs dangerously across the box. Back it comes, only for Andy Carroll to end all this nonsense with the world’s biggest hoof. The ball sails downfield via the skies.

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89 mins: A booking for Johansen, for tripping Diangana. Soft.

87 mins: Anderson works his way forward down the left wing and lends the ball to Diangana before curling at goal from a tight angle. He can’t get enough backlift on the shot, though. Saved.

Antonio makes way for Diangana. He’s played well, as he tends to.

80 mins: West Ham are starting to enjoy themselves now. Anderson flicks the ball over a defender to Masuaku, who sidesteps infield with gratuitous flourish. Grady Diangana is about to come on. The home fans are filing out.

78 mins: Another Fulham attack breaks down, and Carroll gets his first touch, blamming the ball out to Anderson, who jaunts infield but can’t quite engineer a chance.

Fulham roll the dice again. Neeskens Kebano on for Andre Schurrle, who for a player of his pedigree has been pretty pitiful today.

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74 mins: Fulham needs something soon – Craven Cottage has become resignedly flat, the only noise emanating from the away end. And West Ham are mighty comfy, dominating possession now.

Frustration for Claudio Ranieri.
Frustration for Claudio Ranieri. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

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Enter Carroll. The Big Man comes on for the Little Pea.

69 mins: West Ham look dangerous whenever they venture forward. First Anderson has a good headed chance, which he doesn’t get enough power on, then he gathers the ball on the left, pauses a beat and tries to pick out Declan Rice, in a sure-to-score position on the penalty spot, but Chambers just about manages to clear.

66 mins: Cairney glides into the box with a nutmeg on Diop. Balbuena comes across to cut out the danger. Another corner for Fulham, but it’s quickly cleared. West Ham break and have a corner of their own through Zabaleta.

65 mins: Anderson dances past two Fulham shirts on the left flank, eventually winning a free-kick when Christie’s patience runs out and he resorts to a shirt-pull. He’s a lovely player to watch.

61 mins. West Ham make a change of their own, Pedro Obiang coming on for the scowling Mark Noble, who looks like he has a knock.

59 mins: A corner for the home side almost comes to something, but Mitrovic’s goal-bound header is blocked by Balbuena. The hipster-haired Stefan Johansen is being readied on the touchline – he comes on now, for Jean Michaël Seri.

Fulham legend Collins John was on the pitch at half-time. Here he is, looking chirpy.

john

54 mins: A rare spell of sustained pressure for West Ham ends with Snodgrass jinking around near the corner flag and playing it back to Zabaleta, who wins a free-kick. They work it back across the box but Hernandez is caught offside.

51 mins: Cairney shimmies on the edge of the box and feeds Christie, steaming down the right. He batters the ball low and hard across West Ham’s six-yard box and Diop’s wild block turns out to be an effective one. The ball stops dead and West Ham clear.

49 mins: Cairney and Chambers have a hopeful long-shot apiece – the first blocked, the second flying harmlessly wide.

48 mins: Fulham work the ball out of a tight spot, right back near their own corner flag, very nicely indeed. Mitrovic’s through-ball to Schurrle, though, has too much on it, and trickles through to Fabianski.

Cyrus Christie has come on, by the way, for Tim Ream.

We’re off. And Fulham are back on the attack straight away, Mitrovic’s knock-down just escaping Seri. Fabianski gathers.

West Ham’s Lukasz Fabianski gathers the ball ahead of Jean Michael Seri.
West Ham’s Lukasz Fabianski gathers the ball ahead of Jean Michael Seri. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

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Obligatory fan-in-a-Santa-suit photo:

fan

Matthew Dony writes, in an email titled Shoot on sight: “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very good footballer, but if I had as many shots as Andre Schurrle, I’m pretty sure I’d score a goal or two. (See also: Lampard, F.)” Quite so – he’s had a fair few goes already today, and nothing says ‘we’re out of ideas’ as much as the hopeful long-ranger.

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Some half-time reading, ahead of tomorrow’s big one:

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HALF-TIME Fulham 0-2 West Ham

Mike Dean blows up, and Claudio marches across the pitch and down the tunnel, a picture of frustration. His side have been good. They will also do incredibly well to get anything out of this.

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46 mins: Cairney tries the very same thing from the other side. A mirror image of 30 seconds ago – but high and wide.

45 mins: Schurrle collects the ball on the left-hand corner of the box and looks to bend one into the far post. It doesn’t quite bend enough, though, and the ball sails wide.

43 mins: The Brazilian picks up the ball in the box and promptly nutmegs his man, Odoi, who collides with his centre-back partner Mawson as he stumbles after the Brazilian. The ball runs through to Rico but Mawson is in trouble after that collision. On come the physios.

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41 mins: Anderson picks the ball up on the left and floats in a delicious cross that is a mite too high for Snodgrass at the back stick. He’s not seen much of the ball, Anderson, but has looked lively whenever he has.

39 mins: Mark Noble launches himself into Mitrovic, taking some of the ball and all of the man. Booking.

Mark Noble launches himself into a chalenge on Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Mark Noble launches himself into a chalenge on Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic. Photograph: Chris Radburn/PA

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38 mins: Cairney, who’s at the heart of every Fulham move, picks up the ball on the corner of the box and whips in an inswinging cross. At the back post, Bryan doesn’t quite gamble enough, and a tantalising ball, just out of his reach, bounces straight out for a goal kick.

35 mins: More nice stuff from Fulham as Cairney spins in midfield, ploughs forward and exchanges passes with Bryan before seeing his long-ranger blocked by a sea of shins.

32 mins: Fulham have a job on their hands now. It’s on them to take the game to a team who seem very happy indeed to sit back and counter. Fulham have been very decent so far, but West Ham absurdly clinical.

Ream forages down the right and wins a corner. It breaks to Schurrle, who twangs wildly over.

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GOAL! Fulham 0-2 West Ham (Antonio)

29 mins: West Ham counter with precision and efficiency. Anderson, wide left, drifts a cross into the box. Hernandez leaps to get a tiny but vital flick on the ball, and Antonio prods home through the legs of Rico. Two-nil West Ham, and it’s been all Fulham. Football, ruddy hell.

Michail Antonio prods home the second.
Michail Antonio prods home the second. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

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27 mins: Kamara, in space on the D, drills hard and low. Fabanski palms away.

26 mins: Another huge chance for Fulham, as a prolonged spell of attacking pressure culminates in Bryan dinking in a cross from the inside left which the entire West Ham defence elects to leave. Steaming in at the back post is Mitrovic, who plants his header wide of the near post from close range. He should have gone back across goal. Moments later another cross finds Kamara, whose header is saved. There’s goals in this for Fulham.

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22 mins: Antonio is West Ham’s out-ball. Twice in the last two minutes he has been the target of long, skyward passes into the corners. And he’s held it up well both times. His name echoes from the away end.

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21 mins: And we’re back as we were - Fulham continue to play their patient stuff in midfield, West Ham springing forward when they can. Hernandez goes down in pain but drags himself back up. He’s okay.

GOAL! Fulham 0-1 West Ham (Snodgrass)

16 mins: Schurrle slides the ball through to Mitrovic, but the striker doesn’t have the pace to get away from the defence. West Ham recover the ball and work their way down Anderson at the other end of the pitch. He drifts in from the left, dodges a challenge and lays off to Snodgrass, who bends a delicious first-time shot inside Rico’s near post from the edge of the box. Lovely goal – totally against the run of play.

West Ham’s Robert Snodgrass bends in a first-time shot past Rico.
West Ham’s Robert Snodgrass bends in a first-time shot past Rico. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters

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15 mins: Mitrovic enters his first wrestling match, hurling Balbuena to the ground with muscular contempt. Lovely. A minute later he tries to feed the onrushing Seri but West Ham crowd out the attack. The visitors could do with seeing a bit of the ball here.

12 mins: Snodgrass makes inroads into the box, and it’s West Ham’s turn to see a dangerous cutback intercepted. Fulham break and win a throw up the other end. It’s a good, zippy game so far.

9 mins: First big chance: Mitrovic hold it up, spins and feeds Kamara, who’s clean through in the inside left channel. Fabanski comes out to meet him and the striker’s take side-foot effort doesn’t get any further than the keeper’s shins. Fulham on top now – promising stuff from their front two.

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8 mins: Schurrle drifts infield from the left, nutmegs Declan Rice and belts a 25-yarder just over the bar.

7 mins: Some football breaks out. Fulham knock the ball about in midfield and after a few passes feed Chambers, who’s busting into the box down the right. His pull-back is cut out but that’s nice from Fulham.

5 mins: Masuaku puts on the burners and rifles in a low cross from the byline. It’s blocked, but goes out for a corner – which comes to nowt.

4 mins: A first glimpse of Anderson, who drives forward purposefully through midfield and lays off to Masuaku. The return pass is intercepted.

2 mins: Rico and Fabanski are the beneficiaries of a couple of minutes of hopeful hoofs, gathering the ball at either end a few times already. One such route-one move sees the ball sit up for Seri, but he belts his snapshot over.

And we’re away. Mike Dean blows his whistle, Valbuena pumps it towards Antonio and after a couple of aimless long balls apiece the ball settles amid the West Ham back four.

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The teams are out, and braving the bitter conditions. Gloves galore among both teams, and not even the most Proper of Football Men can have any arguments. Claudio Ranieri appears in the form of a pair of eyes peering out of a heavyweight hooded waterproof. Some pre-kickoff high-fives now.

Obligatory fan-in-a-Santa-hat photo:

fulham fan

And here’s Pablo Zabaleta: “We’ve been in good form recently – it’s all about working hard, having trust and belief in what we’ve been doing with the new manager. You can see at the moment that everyone is performing really well, individually and collectively. Of course, now we need to continue that. We cannot drop our intensity.”

Pellegrini speaks! “We need to be a balanced team today. Fulham has good attacking players. We need to play with personality, to go for three points in every game, and I hope we can repeat the last performance [against Palace].”

The one bona fide match-winner between the two XIs, though, is Felipe Anderson. He took a while to feel his way into Premier League life but the recent signs are that it was worth the wait – his silky dismantling of Crystal Palace last weekend was the high-point of a resplendent run of form in which he has scored five goals in his last six. Nominally it’ll be Tim Ream up against him today, but in practice it might be more the job of Calum Chambers, at the base of Fulham’s midfield, to deal with Anderson’s drifts goalwards.

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Up front for Fulham, then, not just one handful but two: Aleksandar Mitrovic + Aboubakar Kamara is a centre-forward pairing not lacking in heft or endeavour. You sense Fabián Balbuena and Issa Diop have a gruelling evening ahead.

At the other end, West Ham have gone for the more traditional bruiser/poacher combo. Michail Antonio has been one of the division’s most underrated players over the last few years, while Javier Hernandez, back in scoring form of late, offers a pleasingly old-fashioned type of threat. Fulham will need to watch out for the full-backs, too: neither Pablo Zabaleta nor Arthur Masuaku are shy of an intrepid surge into enemy territory.

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So no Ryan Sessegnon for Fulham – he has a groin injury – and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa is suspended after his red card at Old Traffrd. Calum Chambers and Aboubakar Kamara, who has scored in his last two games, come into the side. Pellegrini shuffles his pack too, with Michail Antonio coming in for Lucas Perez.

A turret at Craven Cottage is silhouetted against the heavy rain.
A turret at Craven Cottage is silhouetted against the heavy rain. Photograph: Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images

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The teams

Fulham: Rico, Odoi, Ream, Mawson, Bryan, Cairney, Chambers, Seri, Schurrle, Kamara, Mitrovic. Subs: Bettinelli, Christie, Johansen, Cisse, Vietto, Kebano, Ayite.

West Ham: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku, Rice, Noble, Snodgrass, Anderson, Antonio, Hernandez. Subs: Adrian, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Obiang, Diangana, Carroll, Silva.

Preamble

After a snazzy start, the Ranieri Revolution has hit the rocks. His first game in charge of Fulham, which brought an end to a bleak seven-match run of losses, was a 3-2 thriller against Southampton in which the attack ran riot, Ryan Sessegnon showed us what he’s got and Aleksandar Mitrovic played like the love-child of Johnny Haynes and Brian McBride. Since then, though, a defeat at Stamford Bridge and a low-key draw at home to Leicester put the brakes on the revival – and last week they even managed to make Man United look good, taking a tonking at Old Trafford.

But it’s still early doors, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. That said, this particular Roman can’t afford to waste much time in laying his foundations: Fulham are rock bottom, and their defence has been in seasonally generous spirits since the summer. This is a big day in their season, you sense: it kicks off a run of four invitingly winnable end-of-year fixtures – the other three being Newcastle Wolves and Huddersfield – three of which are at home. It’s not inconceivable that they could come out the other end of that looking up toward mid-table. It’s equally possible that they go into the New Year having fluffed a golden chance to pick up some season-salvaging momentum.

Over on the other side of town, a quieter, more compelling revolution: Manuel Pellegrini’s press conferences may be decidedly yawn-inducing affairs but, time and again, his football teams are anything but. After returning to English football to a groundswell of indifference and starting his reign at West Ham with a run of dismal defeats, his side have smartened up their act of late – they’ve won four of their last six, each time scoring three goals or more, the majestic Felipe Anderson orchestrating things with Payet-like pizzazz.

Three points today would take them to within two of Manchester United in sixth, and more importantly bring further reason for appeasement to a fanbase who have been understandably combustible in the couple of years since the Big Move.

In other news, west London is bitterly cold, flagrantly wet and generally immersed in the sort of wildcard conditions that could bring great entertainment to those of us nestled warmly on our sofas. Two attacking sides trading blows in the bucketing rain? Yes please. Kickoff 5.30pm.

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