More defensive woe for Fulham as West Ham win again
Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio were on target for the Hammers.
Fulham’s chaotic defending cost them again as in-form West Ham roared to a fourth straight victory.
The Cottagers remain the only team in England without a clean sheet this season after goals from Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio gave the visitors a 2-0 win and lifted them to ninth in the Premier League.
New Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri knows he needs to plug the leaks but on this evidence he has a lots of work still to do with his side still rooted to the foot of the table.
West Ham’s goals were beautifully worked, but when not one of the seven defenders in attendance thought to close down Snodgrass on edge the area, and when Javier Hernandez – a player also known as ‘Little Pea’ – won a header in the box to set up Antonio’s second, Ranieri’s problems were laid bare.
They still look dangerous going forward, and once again they started brightly on a wet and windy night in west London.
Andre Schurrle fizzed an early shot just over before Aboubakar Kamara was sent clean through by Aleksandar Mitrovic only to fire too close to Lukasz Fabianski.
But it was West Ham who took the lead in the 17th minute, Felipe Anderson expertly spinning away from Denis Odoi’s sliding tackle out on the left.
The Brazilian surged forward before laying the ball back for Snodgrass to guide in his second goal in as many games.
Back came Fulham and Mitrovic headed into the sidenetting before Kamara forced two more saves from Fabianski, a header from which he should have scored and a powerful drive from the edge of the area.
5 - Robert Snodgrass has been directly involved in five goals in his last four Premier League games (2 goals, 3 assists), after going 16 games without a goal or assist in the competition. Upsurge. #FULWHU— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 15, 2018
West Ham soaked up those blows and then struck again with another swift counter-punch.
Anderson was again the creator, Hernandez flicking on his cross and the totally unmarked Antonio, recalled in attack in place of the injured Lucas Perez, pouncing at the far post.
Fulham attempted to hit back before half-time but Schurrle curled his shot wide.
Tim Ream was substituted at half-time, although in truth any of the Fulham back four could have been sacrificed, with Cyrus Christie sent on in his place.
West Ham were by now content to sit back, although they almost added a late third when Anderson’s curler was kept out by Sergio Rico.
These are heady days for Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers, who lost their first four matches of the season.
They have now won four on the trot for the first time since February 2014 and lie just two points behind sixth-placed Manchester United with a kind-looking festive fixture list still to come.