Skip to main content

Can Fulham stay up and what has changed at Craven Cottage?

Liverpool v Fulham – Premier League – Anfield
(Image credit: Clive Brunskill)

Fulham’s 1-0 win at Liverpool on Sunday moved them level on points with Brighton and only one off fellow relegation rivals Newcastle.

Scott Parker’s side remain in the Premier League’s bottom three but have momentum on their side and are firmly on the march to safety.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what has changed at Craven Cottage.

Late arrivals boost squad

A photo posted by on

After winning promotion via the Sky Bet Championship play-offs in August, Fulham were given a rude awakening on their top-flight return a month later. Ten goals were shipped in their first three league matches and it saw the west London club dip back into the transfer market. Ademola Lookman joined at the end of September before Ruben Loftus-Cheek and defenders Tosin Adarabioyo and Joachim Andersen all arrived on deadline day. The latter in particular has made a huge difference and took the captain’s armband after just four games, with Aleksandar Mitrovic in and out of the starting XI.

Tactical switch brings consistency

A formation change for Fulham helped secure a much-needed win at Leicester in November

A formation change for Fulham helped secure a much-needed win at Leicester in November (Michael Regan/PA)

While performances improved after the first month of the season, rookie manager Parker reacted after seven defeats from their opening nine fixtures and switched from a back four to a system with wing-backs and three centre-backs. The tactical adjustment first occurred at Leicester on November 30 and instantly brought a fine 2-0 away win. Victories stayed elusive over the ensuing months, but Fulham were now hard to break down and crucially difficult to beat. Seven draws during December and January highlighted their new-found consistency.

Brave Parker gambles for victories

See more

Leicester once again proved a turning point. Defeat at home to the Foxes at the beginning of February left Fulham eight points from safety and with only 17 games left to play. Draws were no longer enough. With Andersen and Adarabioyo in fine form, along with Paris St Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, Parker trusted his defence to be good enough to play in a back four. The formation change coincided with winter signing Josh Maja entering the team and his brace at Everton clinched a first win in 12 weeks. With more players now able to get in the box and the full-backs still pushing forward, goals from Lookman and Mario Lemina in vital triumphs over Sheffield United and Liverpool vindicated the bravery of the former midfielder and blew the relegation battle wide open.

Can they pull off another great escape?

A photo posted by on

Fulham have been here before. Back in the 2007-08 season they had only 14 points at the halfway point of the campaign and this time around they had 13. Roy Hodgson masterminded four wins from the final month to secure Premier League survival back then and Parker will believe they can follow in their footsteps. Six-pointers with Burnley and Newcastle in May will go a long way to deciding who stays up, but Fulham are currently on 26 points and 35 has been enough to maintain top-flight status in the last four seasons. That figure could be slightly higher this year and yet with momentum behind them after three wins in six, the Craven Cottage outfit will believe they can avoid an instant return to the Championship.