Football Features

Fulham are better than Man Utd: 10 things learned from Saturday’s Premier League action

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:25, 27 April 2019

The penultimate Saturday of the 2018/19 Premier League season saw five games take place across the afternoon.

Cardiff City’s hopes of survival took a hit as they were beaten 1-0 by already-relegated Fulham, a result made worse by Brighton’s draw with Newcastle.

Wolves saw off Watford 2-1 in a key game in the race for seventh, while Everton and Crystal Palace played out a goalless draw.

And in possibly the game of the day, Southampton and Bournemouth drew 3-3 in a south-coast derby result which confirmed the Saints’ safety.

But what did we learn from the afternoon’s action?

1. Fulham are better than Man Utd

Another win, another clean sheet for Fulham in what has been a remarkable run at the end of the season.

The Cottagers may already be relegated but, unlike Huddersfield Town, they are looking to end their season on a high – fighting for Scott Parker to get the job on a permanent basis.

And they are going the right way about it. It wasn’t pretty, but Fulham’s 1-0 win over Cardiff brought their third home clean sheet of the season.

Still not a great number, and indicative of their wider problems this season, Fulham have in fact kept more home clean sheets than Manchester United – who have managed just two, the worse record in the Premier League.

2. Shane Long is football’s latest Jekyll and Hyde

What a month Shane Long is having.

Only recently, Long was the butt of jokes due to his less-than-prolific nature in front of goal, with some defenders scoring at a better rate than the Irishman.

But Long has been the latest Southampton star to find a new lease of life under Ralph Hasenhuttl and it showed once again on Saturday.

Just days after scoring the fastest goal in Premier League history, Long opened the scoring at home to Bournemouth – at the slow time of 12 minutes.

It was the first time Long had ever scored in three consecutive Premier League home games and brought up four goals for the month.

Remarkably, no player has scored more Premier League goals in April than Long – with the Irishman also scoring more than four teams, including Manchester United.

But it wasn’t all peachy for Long, who still had time show exactly why he has been somewhat of a target for jokes over the past few years.

After Bournemouth equalised through Dan Gosling, the Irishman had the chance to give Southampton the lead once more. His initial effort was saved by Artur Boruc but the ball bounced back out to Long.

Surely a man of Long’s prolificacy would be getting his second goal of the game? No. The Long of old decided to rear his head, with the Irishman striking the post from just four yards out.

Normal service resumed, or just a rare blip for the deadly Irishman?

3. Raul Jimenez eclipses Steven Fletcher

What a season Raul Jimenez has had.

Overcoming a relatively slow start to his loan move, the Mexican has quickly endeared himself to the Wolves faithful with his goals propelling Nuno Espirito Santo’s side up the league and into the FA Cup semi-finals.

Possibly looking to get his own back for the FA Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Watford, in which his luchador mask was mocked by Troy Deeney, Jimenez opened the scoring at Vicarage Road.

A vital match in deciding who will be the best of the rest, with Wolves in the driving seat, Jimenez scored his 13th Premier League goal of the season.

It makes the Mexican the most prolific goalscorer in a single Premier League season for Wolves, moving one ahead of Steven Fletcher’s record set in the 2011/12 season.

4. Callum Wilson once again proves he can do both

Back to the game between Southampton and Bournemouth, as Callum Wilson showed just how important he is to Eddie Howe.

With Bournemouth trailing, Wilson was on hand to set up Dan Gosling for the equalising goal and, soon after, put his side ahead with his 13th goal of the season.

It was the sixth time Wilson had scored and assisted in a Premier League game this season, more than any other player and the most by an Englishman since Alan Shearer managed the feat seven times in 1994/95.

And Wilson was not done there, scoring a late equaliser to take his total goal involvement for the Premier League season to 23 (14 goals, nine assists) – more than any other player outside the top six clubs.

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5. Diogo Jota saves all his love for Raul Jimenez

Like team-mate Jimenez, Diogo Jota is having a very good season at Wolves, scoring nine goals and recording five assists to help his side to seventh in the Premier League.

While his direct goal involvement on its own is impressive for the 22-year-old, there is something remarkable about Jota’s assists.

All five of Jota’s Premier League assists this season have been for Raul Jimenez goals – a Premier League record of a unique kind. While some assist combinations are more prolific, no other player across the division’s history has had as many assists exclusively for one team-mate than Jota.

In setting up Jimenez against Watford, Jota moved clear of Aki Riihilahti whose four Premier League assists were all for Andrew Johnson, and Geoff Cameron who reserved his four for Peter Crouch.

6. Wan-Bissaka continues his run as duel master

After being surprisingly snubbed for the PFA Young Player of the Year shortlist, Aaron Wan-Bissaka showed his fellow professionals that they might just need to watch more football.

The 21-year-old was the highlight of his side’s goalless draw with Everton, playing a big part in keeping the clean sheet against a side looking to push for a Europa League place.

Naturally, Wan-Bissaka won 100% of his six take-ons against the Toffees and made four interceptions, taking him to 82 for the season – only Etienne Capoue has made more in the Premier League this season.

Crystal Palace will certainly struggle to keep him in the summer.

7. Matt Targett nets Premier League’s 1,000th goal

It’s taken some time but the Premier League has finally seen its 1,000th goal of the season.

That honour fell to Southampton’s Matt Targett who scored his side’s third in their 3-3 draw with Bournemouth at St Mary’s, a result which confirmed their safety.

The goal came through a good back-post header from Targett to get on the end of Yann Valery’s cross and was the 23-year-old’s first ever Premier League strike.

8. Josh Murphy is on Cardiff’s naughty step

With Cardiff needing a result to keep their hopes of Premier League safety alive, fans were calling for a positive change from Neil Warnock.

But much to their annoyance, Rhys Healey was brought on with 20 minutes to and Bobby Reid was only given a late cameo as the game looked past them.

And there was no room on the pitch for Josh Murphy, who has been one of Cardiff’s better attacking options this season.

So, was the 24-year-old nursing an injury? Not according to Warnock…

“Josh Murphy wasn’t in the squad because he’s not been training well enough,” he told reporters post-match.

“I could say he’d got something wrong with his back or something but the truth is he’s not been good enough and hopefully this will be the kick up the backside that he needs.”

9. Perez & Rondon = Shearer and Solano

At the start of the season, it was looking to be another washout campaign for Newcastle with a potential relegation battle on the cards.

But since the arrival of Miguel Almiron in January, the Magpies have turned their tides around and even with the Paraguayan out for the remainder of the season, his impact continues.

Against Brighton on Saturday evening, Rondon and Perez combined to open the scoring with the latter powering in following his partner’s knock down.

It was the seventh time the pair have combined for a Premier League goal this season, the most by a Newcastle duo since Alan Shearer and Nolberto Solano shared eight in the 1999/00 season.

And, unfortunately for Newcastle fans, the pair may not get another chance to add to that this season with Perez going off injured in the first half.

10. Brighton remember how to score

Some Brighton fans might have thought they would never see their side score again. Prior to their game with Newcastle on Saturday evening, the Seagull’s last goal came in injury time of a 2-2 FA Cup quarter-final draw with Millwall on March 17.

Since then Brighton had gone seven games without scoring across all competitions: six defeats and one goalless draw.

And on Saturday it was looking to be more of the same after Newcastle took the lead. But then something extraordinary happened.

Pushing for a point which would be valuable for their Premier League status, Pascal Groß reacted quickly to Glenn Murray’s header inside the Newcastle area, to send a header of his own past Martin Dubravka, ending Brighton’s drought of 12 hours and 15 minutes.

The point-winning goal sees Brighton move four points clear of Cardiff with just two games of the season left and a vastly superior goal difference. Job done?