Premier League Preview: Fulham v Southampton

Things seem to be slowly looking up for Scott Parker in recent weeks with three successive draws heading into this one.

Parker also seems to be finally nailing down his best starting XI but he will have a few enforced changes to make for this one.

Joachim Andersen serves a one-game ban with Dennis Odoi set to slot in for him at the back.

But injuries to Tom Cairney and Ivan Cavaleiro present a bigger problem for Parker with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Bobby Reid the most likely replacements.

Southampton’s own form has dipped a bit in December with a draw at Arsenal and defeat to Manchester City.

And Ralph Hasenhuttl’s concerns will be deepened further by the absences of Oriol Romeu and Danny Ings for the trip to the capital.

Romeu has hit his five bookings limit for the campaign with Ings out for a month with a hamstring strain.

The Austrian does have options to shake things up at the Cottage, with Stuart Armstrong, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond amongst the possible returning faces.

Kick Off in this one is 3pm on Boxing Day at Craven Cottage

Premier League Preview: Leicester City v Fulham

The Foxes are still in a strong position in the opening weeks of the campaign, but that defeat will have dented some confidence in their side.

However, Rodgers could stick by his players, and name an unchanged side this weekend, with Ricardo Pereira, Timothy Castagne and Wilf Ndidi all still sidelined.

Turkish international Cengiz Under impressed off the bench at Liverpool and he could be one potential change, if Rodgers opts to rest Marc Albrighton.

For Fulham, things don’t get any easier for under fire boss Scott Parker, with no away wins so far this season ahead of the trip to Leicester.

But with his options limited by a struggling squad, he is also set for minor changes with Aleksandr Mitrovic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both set to start.

And it’ll be a 5.15pm kick on Monday night at the King Power Stadium

Fulham boss Scott Parker backing on-loan midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek

The on-loan Chelsea ace fired home in the 70th minute at Craven Cottage but the hosts were unable to find an equaliser.

Loftus-Cheek’s performance served as one major positive for his manager to take from the encounter, with the 24-year-old also able to win a penalty in his 32-minute cameo.

An Achilles injury in May last year halted the development of the England international and he has been used sparingly by Parker in November, but his boss hinted he is ready to unleash the Chelsea academy graduate.

“I thought he was brilliant,” the Fulham manager said of Loftus-Cheek.

“We have worked really hard with Ruben in terms of the information I am trying to give him and him as a player and how he can have a big impact this year.

“Sometimes I feel like Ruben has a tendency for games to drift him by but today was everything we have spoke about with him.

“He came on, made a difference and looked every bit of a top, top player. He got on the ball, was brave, scored a goal and was dynamic and if you get him in between the lines, with confidence, he has that raw ability.

“He will be big for us this year. He needs to keep working and listening to what we are saying to him, but no doubt he will keep improving.”

Loftus-Cheek will hope his goal can earn him a start away to Leicester on Saturday, which is the beginning of a daunting run of fixtures for the newly-promoted side.

Fulham have lost seven out of nine games in the Premier League and after a trip to the King Power Stadium at the weekend, take on Manchester City and Liverpool in consecutive matches at the start of December.

Parker added: “We can lose football matches and I will be judged on that, I understand that, but I don’t think anyone will ever point the finger or tarnish us by saying the players won’t play for me or this football club or show that.

“Every time they step on the field they will keep learning, they will make mistakes and the gulf at times is big with the quality of players and fixtures coming up, there is no doubt.

“But with endeavour and a work ethic to keep improving as a team, we will go in the right direction.”

Dominic Calvert-Lewin brace seals 3-2 Everton win at Fulham

The Blues headed into the international break on the back of a four game winless streak, but first half goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Abdoulaye Doucoure secured a timely three points.

Ancelotti’s side have been quick starters this season, and their opener came inside just 50 seconds at Craven Cottage.

Richarlison seized on a loose ball inside the Fulham and his square ball was scrambled home by Calvert-Lewin.

But despite being an absolute disaster in defence, Fulham proved they can still carry a threat on the counter, as Bobby Reid hauled them level on 13 minutes.

Michael Keane was caught out of position by Tom Cairney clever boss and Reid’s snapshot deflected past Jordan Pickford.

However, that spark of positivity was short lived for the hosts, as Calvert-Lewin netted his 10th league of goal of the season.

Alex Iwobi’s mazy run beat three Fulham defenders out wide and Calvert-Lewin arrived on cue to bury his cross.

And with their tails up, Everton stretched their lead to 3-1 just before the break as Doucoure powered home Lucas Digne’s fine cross.

Fulham continued their plan to abandon defending after the break, as Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin could and should have made it four.

But with the Toffees unable to see the game out, Fulham were handed an unexpected way back in, as Ben Godfrey fouled Ruben Loftus-Cheek inside the box.

However, Fulham’s poor luck from the spot continued as Ivan Cavaleiro slipped and ballooned his effort over the bar.

Fulham did manage to edge themselves back into as Loftus-Cheek scuffed home with 20 to go.

The hosts worked hard to force an equaliser in the closing minutes, but Everton clung on as Fulham’s misery continues.

Full Time at a goal filled Craven Cottage it’s Fulham 2 Everton 3

Loftus-Cheek loaned to Fulham

The 24-year-old had recently struggled to find consistent playing time at Stamford Bridge after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the England international’s return from an Achilles tendon injury.

Loftus-Cheek was previously linked with Aston Villa and Southampton, but he said he was excited to try and get back to his “best football” with Fulham.

He said: “I’m really happy to come ‘next door,’ if you will!

“I watched Fulham at the start of the season and they looked like they’re playing decent football.

“With this manager, I think I can get back to my best football. That’s the main thing for me, to find my form and help this team win games.”

Fulham owner Tony Khan added: “I’m thrilled to announce the arrival of Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Fulham Football Club on loan from Chelsea FC.

“Ruben is a world-class player in the prime of his career, he has earned great experience in the Premier League, and we believe he will be so valuable to our club in our fight ahead of us. Come on Fulham!”

Ruben Loftus-Cheek likely to be amongst a host of Chelsea outgoings

Perhaps unsurprisingly for Blues fans, outgoings are expected to dominate the day, with the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Victor Moses and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all linked with loan moves away from Stamford Bridge.

The most likely of which is a switch to neighbouring Fulham for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The 24-year-old midfielder is expected to move to Craven Cottage on loan for the rest of the season after struggling to break in to Frank Lampard’s squad following his comeback from injury.

Fulham could do with the resources, too, with the Cottagers currently pointless from their opening 3 Premier League games and rooted to the bottom of the table.

Full-back Victor Moses is another who is expected to spend the rest of the campaign out on loan, with Inter Milan said to be keen.

The Nigeria international spent the first half of last season on loan at Turkish side Fenerbahce, before heading to Serie A with Inter from January.

The Serie A side are managed by former Blues boss Antonio Conte, who is keen to once again bring Moses back to the San Siro.

If the move goes through it would be the 29-year-old’s 5th spell on loan since joining Chelsea in 2012.

Callum Hudson-Odoi is perhaps the move that most Blues fans have their eyes on though, with Bayern Munich publicly stating their interest in the England winger.

Chelsea gaffer Frank Lampard has admitted he is keen to retain Hudson-Odoi, though, who was the subject of significant speculation regarding a switch to Bayern last summer.

With upwards of £200m spent on new recruits this transfer window, it seems unlikely that Frank Lampard will move for any more fresh faces on Deadline Day.

However, the requirement for an additional centre back may encourage the Blues to make a loan move of their own before Monday’s deadline.

Lampard open to Loftus-Cheek departure

Loftus-Cheek is back to full fitness after another injury plagued year, which seen him play just 288 minutes of football in 16 months after a troublesome Achilles injury.

The 24-year-old has made one appearance for the Blues this season, in the opening day win over Brighton, and Lampard has confirmed he is fit enough to play week in, week out, and is eager to do so.

The Chelsea boss also stressed that Loftus-Cheek is held in high regard at the club, suggesting the 10-cap England man’s long-term future remains at Stamford Bridge.

The arrivals of Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz are set to limit Loftus-Cheek’s game time in the coming season, and Ziyech has this week resumed full training, after picking up a knee injury in a pre-season game earlier this summer.

Edouard Mendy has also trained this week and could be in line to make his Chelsea debut in the Carabao Cup 5th round clash against Tottenham.