Just when you thought positive momentum was building in this Fulham side, a real stinker was on full display at the King Power Stadium. Leicester City were just too vibrant, just too fast and just too skillful for Fulham’s defense to deal with and they paid the price by game’s end. If anything, it was quite surprising the scoreline wasn’t greater with the way Fulham were constantly giving up the ball in the first half and the way Leicester were creating chances with ease.
But man, those opening 45 minutes were brutal. All you needed to know was that Leicester had 12 shots with four of them going on target during that period. Fulham? They put up absolutely nothing. Whether it is a pass to Calum Chambers, Kevin McDonald or Sergio Rico, the ball was either of the poorest quality for Leicester to capitalize or the home side were off the blocks hard putting pressure on Fulham’s defense. That was where the vast majority of where the home side’s attack came from, including their lone goal in that opening stanza.
In the 21st minute, a poor pass by Harvard Nordveit led to a turnover by Calum Chambers, who was able to spring Jamie Vardy through. While the Leicester talisman could have tried to score his 100th goal for the club, Vardy instead fed a ball to Youri Tielemens that went past Sergio Rico and the latter turned Tim Ream into the traffic cone he’s been all season and tapped it from a few feet away. Really, Leicester should have had more considering the amount of effective possession they had, but it was to no avail. Harvey Barnes and Vardy were dangerous all afternoon but they wouldn’t put their full mark on the contest until later on.
But first, Fulham made a trademark halftime substitution by subbing Ryan Sessegnon for Floyd Ayite. But this time around, Ayite had his most effective appearance in the Premier League after he won a long ball header and went past Ben Chillwell to dribble it towards the penalty area. From there, all Ayite needed to do was unleash the most tame shot imaginable and hope a Harry Maguire deflection would go past Kasper Schmeichel. Yeah, football can be that simple sometimes. All you really need is your very first shot to stupidly go in and that’s what separates an attack being so horrifyingly inept to passable.
From there, Fulham did try to make a game of it. Aleksander Mitrovic was getting livelier and Joe Bryan was moving the ball from more advanced positions. Tom Cairney was moving the ball crisply and with real endeavor. Most importantly, the defense looked organized and weren’t rushed into making poor decisions when moving the ball out the back.
But like all things good about Fulham this season, they were just blips in a historically awful season. Once Scott Parker replaced Ryan Babel with Jean Michael Seri, the shape of the team went unbalanced and the team was not the same from here on out. Fulham were playing more of a 4-2-2-2, but Ayite was so far out wide and the rest of the non-defenders played so narrowly that they any existent support in defense for the fullbacks dissapeared.
Surely enough, Leicester got back into the game with what they were doing best: taking advantage of Harvard Nordveit mistakes. This time, it was James Maddison that made the interception and fed a streaking Vardy and easily capitalized to make it 2-1. All the game needed was a cherry in Leicester’s sundae and they were able to get it with another Vardy goal. This time it came from a marauding run by Barnes that put him past Bryan and fed it towards the Leicester Captain inside the penalty area. Vardy didn’t get his 100th goal the first time asking, but he eventually got there and more.
So Fulham got back to their usual terrible selves. There defense continued to be awful and they can only play one system with almost an exact XI for all 90 minutes in order for it to work. That’s why they’ll be relegated and that’s why the rest of this month will be downright miserable. Please be nice to us, Liverpool.