Feature

Battle for safety: Fulham

17 Feb 2019
Ryan Babel, Fulham

A look at the fixtures, form and key man in the Cottagers' fight to avoid an immediate return to the Championship

The battle to avoid relegation is intensifying as the season enters its final third, so we have taken a look at the prospects of the eight teams with the biggest fight to remain in the Premier League.

How they stand

Pos Team Pl GD Pts
1 MCI 38 +72 98
2 LIV 38 +67 97
3 CHE 38 +24 72
4 TOT 38 +28 71
5 ARS 38 +22 70
6 MUN 38 +11 66
Fulham

After earning promotion via the playoffs and an end to a five-year absence from the Premier League, the Cottagers have been struggling to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

They lie 19th, eight points from safety, with 12 matches remaining.

Only once have a team kept their Premier League status from such a position. 

West Ham United were 10 points from safety with nine matches remaining in 2006/07 but claimed seven victories to stay up on the final weekend.

Fulham fans can also take heart from their own great escape the following season.

Trailing Manchester City 2-0 at half-time, Roy Hodgson’s side would have been relegated in 2007/08 if the result had stood.

But they fought back in the final 20 minutes to triumph 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium before wins over Birmingham City and Portsmouth secured safety on goal difference.

Form

Fulham stemmed a three-match losing run from the start of the year, including against relegation rivals Burnley, with a comeback win at home to Brighton & Hove Albion, battling from 2-0 down at half-time to win 4-2.

But Claudio Ranieri has not been able to build on a fourth victory of the season, instead suffering back-to-back defeats against Crystal Palace and Manchester United.

Next fixtures

After their derby across London at West Ham on Friday, Fulham face a crucial showdown with Southampton on Wednesday, 27 February.

A repeat of the victory in the reverse fixture in November would close the gap on the team immediately above them to four points.

Thereafter, Ranieri's task becomes more of a challenge with two top-six sides on the horizon.

Fulham will host Chelsea and Liverpool in March, either side of a trip to Leicester City.

Key man

Fulham need someone to ease the burden on striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has 10 goals this season, including important strikes against Burnley, Brighton, Southampton and Huddersfield Town.

January signing Ryan Babel could be that man, having set up two of last month's four goals against Brighton.

Cottagers fans will hope the Dutchman can continue to provide creativity and attacking threat, while adding goals of his own.

Also in this series

Part 1: Battle for safety: Crystal Palace
Part 2: Battle for safety: Brighton
Part 3: Battle for safety: Burnley
Part 4: Battle for safety: Newcastle
Part 5: Battle for safety: Cardiff
Part 6: Battle for safety: Southampton
Part 8: Battle for safety: Huddersfield Town

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