Fulham midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek says the Cottagers “don’t feel like losing at all” after producing another dominant, yet profligate, display in Saturday’s goalless draw at Crystal Palace.
Scott Parker’s side created by far the better opportunities at Selhurst Park but failed to earn a win which would have closed the gap on fellow Premier League strugglers Newcastle and Brighton to one point.
“It’s kind of the story of our season,” said Loftus-Cheek. “We’re playing well and dominating games but can’t see it off.”
The visitors came to life after a poor first half, Josh Maja curling narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area before forcing Vicente Guaita into a one-handed save with a header from Ivan Cavaleiro’s delivery.
Joachim Andersen had a header blocked and Loftus-Cheek also went close, drilling a powerful effort wide of Guaita’s left-hand post.
“We said before the game they are a team who sit deep and defend well,” added the Chelsea loanee. “We said we needed to take our chances but we couldn’t.
“We are diligent in our defensive work and hard to break down. We don’t fear conceding goals, it’s just outscoring teams that we want to improve.”
Palace were virtually non-existent as an attacking force, registering just three attempts and failing to test Alphonse Areola in the Fulham goal.
The draw lifts the Cottagers to 23 points – three behind 17th-placed Newcastle – while the Eagles are 10 points above the relegation zone in 13th.
Missed opportunity for Fulham
Fulham arrived at Selhurst Park with the wind firmly in their sails, having reduced the gap on Newcastle from 10 points to just three going into this weekend’s round of fixtures.
The Magpies’ 1-1 draw with Wolves, coupled with Brighton’s 1-0 reverse at West Brom, opened the door for Fulham to pile even more pressure on the two teams directly above them but, not for the first time this season, they failed to make the most of several promising opportunities.
Parker’s team pressed their opponents relentlessly and enjoyed the majority of possession in the early stages, but the closest they came to a first-half opener was when Andersen headed Ademola Lookman’s free-kick over the crossbar.
The visitors mustered 14 efforts in the second half alone as they laid siege to the Palace goal, but a combination of wayward finishing, last-ditch defending and good goalkeeping from Guaita kept the Cottagers at bay.
Maja signalled Fulham’s intent after half-time with a speculative long-range effort that flew straight into Guaita’s arms, but the 22-year-old will be disappointed not to have converted one of two golden opportunities later in the half.
The Bordeaux loanee failed to hit the target after cutting on to his left foot on the edge of the area before being denied by a strong left-handed save by the Palace goalkeeper.
Andersen, Loftus-Cheek and Cavaleiro all went close for Fulham, but there was no way through for Parker’s side.
“There were some big chances today,” said the Fulham boss, whose side face Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City in their next three games. “It was probably always going to be a 1-0 game and we did everything in our power to win it.
“We will win games if we play like that. Today we fell a little bit short but performance-wise we were there.
“I personally believe we can give anyone a game in this division. There’s still a long way to go.”
Toothless Palace lack spark
Palace were accused of committing “a robbery” against rivals Brighton last Monday, when Christian Benteke sealed a late smash-and-grab victory with only their second effort on target.
The Eagles almost enjoyed another slice of luck here when Andros Townsend’s teasing cross was flicked towards his own goal by Andersen, but Areola was alert to the danger.
That was the closest Roy Hodgson’s side went to getting on the scoresheet.
Benteke – restored to the starting line-up after scoring that late winner at Amex Stadium – cut an isolated figure in attack, despite the support of Eberechi Eze in a central role behind the Belgium striker.
Hodgson will be desperate to have Wilfried Zaha back to face former club Manchester United on Wednesday. The Ivory Coast forward has missed the past three games with a muscle injury but recently returned to first-team training.
“We have a lot of players to come back into the team,” said Hodgson, who was also without James McArthur, Mamadou Sakho, Jeffrey Schlupp, James Tomkins and Nathaniel Clyne against the Cottagers.
“I know we have a lot more strings to our bow than we have perhaps been able to show in the last few games. We have our own stars that will be back in the team and can ask a lot of questions.”
Cottagers extend unbeaten away run – the stats
- Crystal Palace have picked up four points from their past two Premier League games (W1 D1) despite having just six shots and facing 41.
- Fulham are unbeaten in their past seven Premier League games on the road (W1 D6), their longest such run without defeat away from home in the competition.
- Fulham are now winless in their past 21 London derby matches in the Premier League (D4 L17), with only Crystal Palace between 1969 and 1973 suffering a longer such winless run in top-flight history.
- After only one of Fulham’s first 21 Premier League games under Scott Parker ended level, they have since drawn 10 of their past 15 league matches (W2 L3).
- Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson remains unbeaten during his managerial career against Fulham (W3 D4).
- During February, Crystal Palace managed just 33 attempts in their five matches – this is the lowest number of shots recorded by a team in a single Premier League month of at least five games since the start of the 2003-04 campaign.
‘I can’t praise the players enough’ – what they said
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: “I’m very satisfied. Fulham are playing very well and are a good team. We knew we would be under pressure for large parts of the game.
“We are realists. I still think we can do more with the ball sometimes but that’s dependent on the opposition as well. They don’t give you a lot of time on the ball but the way we dug in is very commendable.
“I can’t praise the players enough for the work-rate.”
Fulham manager Scott Parker: “In the first half we didn’t really assert ourselves and lacked a threat. We changed that at half-time.
“Positionally we changed it in attack a little bit. We cut through the lines and put people in positions in the second half. Of course we wanted three points, but we got one.
“I was very pleased defensively. We saw in their last game against Brighton that Palace are always in games. We nullified that very well. The missing part was of course the goal.”
Crystal Palace host Manchester United on Wednesday, 3 March (20:15 GMT), before Fulham welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Craven Cottage the following evening (18:00).
- 3van Aanholt
- 4MilivojevicBooked at 55mins
- 25EzeSubstituted forMcCarthyat 79′minutes
- 9J Ayew
- 34AinaSubstituted forRobinsonat 45′minutesBooked at 83mins
- 29Zambo AnguissaSubstituted forMitrovicat 73′minutes
- 14De Cordova-ReidSubstituted forCavaleiroat 66′minutes
- Anthony Taylor
Match ends, Crystal Palace 0, Fulham 0.
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 0, Fulham 0.
Attempt missed. Josh Maja (Fulham) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ivan Cavaleiro with a cross.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. Tosin Adarabioyo (Fulham) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ademola Lookman with a cross following a set piece situation.
Antonee Robinson (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. Ademola Lookman (Fulham) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Harrison Reed.
Foul by Harrison Reed (Fulham).
Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Antonee Robinson (Fulham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Antonee Robinson (Fulham).
Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Andros Townsend with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Antonee Robinson.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. James McCarthy replaces Eberechi Eze.
Foul by Kenny Tete (Fulham).
Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Ivan Cavaleiro (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Kenny Tete.