EPL

Willian pleased to make the right impression with Fulham

By Sports Desk May 21, 2023

Fulham forward Willian is delighted to have proved detractors wrong in his return to the Premier League this campaign.

The 34-year-old spent seven seasons at Chelsea and joined Arsenal in 2020, where his three-year agreement was cut short by mutual consent after just one season.

Some wondered if that unhappy spell at the Emirates would mark the end of the Brazil international’s time in the English top flight before Marco Silva’s side  snapped him up on a one-year deal set to expire in June.

Willian, who picked up an assist in Fulham’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, said: “When I left Chelsea, Arsenal, it didn’t work, you know, and then I went back to Brazil. I think some people did think I was finished but I proved, not for them but for me, that I can play in the Premier League again.

“I’m proud to be doing what I have been doing this season. I think a lot of people didn’t believe that I can come back to the Premier League and do the same job that I had been doing a lot of years ago, I’m proud of it as well and I just want to keep playing with a smile on my face. ”

The assist brought Willian’s campaign tally to four, having also netted five goals across 26 appearances for the Cottagers. He would have made it six against Palace but for Sam Johnstone’s fingertip save of his skilled effort.

Fulham have one more attempt to match or break their all-time Premier League points tally, 53. That record was set in 2008-09 under Roy Hodgson, who occupied the visitors’ dugout on Saturday.

Willian’s side currently sit 10th with 52 points, and will look to make history against Manchester United on Sunday, the Brazilian vowing “we still have to believe we can break the record, so let’s do it.”

After that, he added: “I have a contract until the end of June, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Of course it’s some place that I feel good here to play (at). I have to speak to the club to see the situation. Let’s see what’s going to happen.”

Eberechi Eze has been one of the brightest sparks for Palace this season with a team-leading 10 goals and four assists, renewing calls for Gareth Southgate to consider him for an England call-up this summer.

The arrival of Hodgson back at Selhurst Park further fuelled the midfielder, who admitted he may be playing the best football of his life.

Asked how much he’s enjoying himself right now, Eze replied: “Loads, loads. I feel like I’ve got the freedom to play, to do my thing and I’m just happy to be playing and enjoying my football.

“I just feel like I’ve been given the freedom. I found it difficult at times, as a team we were going through a tough period so that’s natural, but since the gaffer has come in I feel like we have worked well together.

“I’ve obviously played with him before, so I understand what he wants and where he wants me to be, so I think that’s helped.

“I want to continue to play how I’ve been playing, I want to continue enjoying it, contributing to the game as much as I can and I feel like that is the most important thing.”

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    West Ham teenager George Earthy was taken to hospital after suffering a horror head injury just two minutes into his Premier League debut.

    The 19-year-old had just come on as a substitute when he collided with team-mate Edson Alvarez in the middle of the field.

    Earthy fell to the ground awkwardly and appeared to have been knocked out cold, sparking worrying scenes as medics and team-mates rushed to help the stricken youngster.

    After receiving treatment for eight minutes, Earthy was carried off on a stretcher. He was conscious when he was taken out of the London Stadium in an ambulance around 20 minutes after full-time.

    The Hammers said: “West Ham United can confirm George Earthy will undergo an assessment in a London hospital this evening following the incident which saw him stretchered off during today’s Premier League fixture against Fulham.

    “The midfielder – who entered the field as a second half substitute to make his Premier League debut against the Cottagers – was taken off in stoppage time.”

    Manager David Moyes said: “I am really disappointed for George. He has been doing really well in training, done really well for the Under-21s.

    “He started well with the ball, had some really nice touches. He is fine. It is a head knock. He is awake and has gone to hospital, we think he is OK at the moment. We all thought he had been knocked out but I don’t know any more.”

    The incident overshadowed a 2-0 victory for Fulham courtesy of two goals from Andreas Pereira.

    It was a second blow to West Ham’s European hopes in the space of four days, following Thursday night’s 2-0 Europa League first-leg defeat at Bayer Leverkusen, as a win would have lifted them to sixth.

    “I thought we started well and should have been one or two goals up before they scored,” added Moyes.

    “We were caught out by a long ball, we didn’t deal with it well. And we missed some opportunities to score as well. I think we dominated possession, kept the ball and passed it quite well. But we got done on the counter-attack.

    “I’m gutted, today was a great chance to go sixth with five games to go, what a great position to be in.”

    For Fulham it was a first win in four matches, and a first at West Ham since 2001.

    Boss Marco Silva said: “Great win for us, well played from ourselves and to be honest we deserved the three points.

    “West Ham had a good chance to score but after that, we scored the first goal and started to control the game. Overall we scored twice but created more chances to score as well.

    “I think we were solid, compact and kept our concentration. We should have scored more goals to be even more comfortable.”

  • Andreas Pereira at the double as Fulham dent West Ham’s hopes of European return Andreas Pereira at the double as Fulham dent West Ham’s hopes of European return

    West Ham’s European hopes suffered a second blow in the space of four days after a meek 2-0 home defeat by Fulham.

    The Hammers were beaten 2-0 by Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday, leaving them with a mountain to climb in the return match.

    They then blew the chance to climb up to sixth place in the Premier League, and right back into the European shake-up, after two Andreas Pereira goals secured a first win in four for Fulham.

    It was the first time the Cottagers had won away to West Ham since 2001 and having dominated the reverse fixture 5-0 in December, they completed a league double over their London rivals for the first time since 1966.

    Leverkusen will not be quaking in their boots on the evidence of this timid display.

    Yet West Ham should have gone ahead in the opening moments when Lucas Paqueta’s ball over the top saw right-back Vladimir Coufal burst into the area.

    His initial effort was repelled by Bernd Leno and when the ball rebounded to the feet of Michail Antonio, the striker blazed over from eight yards.

    Mohammed Kudus then curled wide narrowly wide before the lively Paqueta, who is suspended against Leverkusen on Thursday night, hit the side-netting.

    But despite their bright start, West Ham conceded to Fulham’s first attack after nine minutes, a goal which would have had manager David Moyes tearing his hair out.

    Konstantinos Mavropanos tried to bring down a deep cross from Alex Iwobi but succeeded only in gifting the ball to Pereira, who had been given a free run by Nayef Aguerd.

    The Brazilian had the simple task of knocking the ball past Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski and finishing into an empty net.

    Pereira almost had a second moments later when he slid in to meet Willian’s inviting cross, but he guided it wide.

    Coufal has yet to score for West Ham since joining three and a half years ago, and he illustrated why when he crashed a good opportunity wide from Paqueta’s cross.

    After the break Fabianski made a big save to tip Iwobi’s shot wide, but he was powerless to prevent Pereira doubling the lead after 72 minutes.

    Paqueta was robbed in midfield by Joao Palhinha and Pereira laid the ball off to Rodrigo Muniz. He played in Iwobi, who burst forward before crossing for Pereira to apply another simple finish.

    A damaging defeat for the Hammers had a sad postscript when teenage substitute George Earthy had to be carried off on a stretcher after suffering a serious head injury in a collision with team-mate Edson Alvarez, just two minutes into his Premier League debut.

  • Liverpool’s title chances suffer huge blow as Crystal Palace win at Anfield Liverpool’s title chances suffer huge blow as Crystal Palace win at Anfield

    Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes were dealt a serious blow as Eberechi Eze scored the only goal in Crystal Palace’s shock 1-0 win at Anfield.

    Jurgen Klopp’s side were punished for a poor start by Eze after 14 minutes and then failed to take a host of chances in a frustrating second half on Sunday.

    After last week’s draw at Manchester United and the midweek Europa League implosion against Atalanta, Klopp’s hopes of a glorious send-off are rapidly fading.

    Palace were the latest side to throw a spanner in the works as they claimed just their second win under Oliver Glasner and eased fears of getting sucked into a relegation battle.

    Eze’s goal marked the 21st time they have fallen behind in 32 league games this season and, unlike on many previous occasions, this time there was no coming back.

    They pressed hard but could not find a way through Palace’s stubborn rearguard, succumbing to their first home league defeat in 29 games.

    Liverpool had welcomed back first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker after 10 weeks and also brought back Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz, Andy Robertson and Conor Bradley following the Atalanta humbling.

    Yet it appeared to do little good as the hosts made a sluggish start and Palace made the early running.

    The Eagles were rewarded as they pieced together a patient passing move, ending with Tyrick Mitchell cutting the ball back for Eze to casually side-foot home.

    Things almost immediately got worse for Liverpool as a Virgil van Dijk slip allowed Jean-Philippe Mateta to race clean through on goal.

    The Frenchman calmly lifted over the advancing Alisson but Andy Robertson did superbly to race back and clear off the line.

    Liverpool belatedly began to stir and were unlucky in a goalmouth scramble as Wataru Endo scooped a shot against the bar.

    Diaz then forced a save from Dean Henderson as he met a Robertson cross with a flying volley and Ibrahima Konate headed over from the resulting corner.

    Alexis Mac Allister had a free-kick blocked and Salah tested Henderson after racing onto a long ball and cutting inside.

    Despite the more positive play, Liverpool remained vulnerable and Michael Olise shot at Alisson before Mateta headed over.

    Liverpool suffered a serious blow in the opening moments of the second half when Bradley was forced off with an ankle injury. His removal led to the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold after 13 games on the sidelines.

    Liverpool pressed on and forced a corner from which Darwin Nunez looked certain to equalise but Henderson blocked his powerful strike at point-blank range.

    Klopp tried to freshen up his front line by sending on Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo and the former spurned a good chance when he was teed up by Dominik Szoboszlai but shot against a defender.

    Curtis Jones was also wasteful when put through as he skewed a shot wide with only the keeper to beat.

    Yet Palace also suffered frustration as Mateta was remarkably denied at close range by Alisson.

    Liverpool looked laboured as time ran out but Salah was denied a leveller in stoppage time when Mitchell blocked him two yards out.

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