There were four winless teams in the Premier League heading into the weekend, now there are just three. Friendly neighbors Fulham finally recorded their first (league) win of the season, beating also awful West Brom, 2-0, and lifting themselves out of the early-season relegation zone.
Unfortunately for our interests, they did so without Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was only named to the bench, and went unused. RLC had started Fulham’s last two games, a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United and a 2-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace, but on Monday night, manager Scott Parker decided to hand Bobby Decordova-Reid a start on the right wing instead.
The former Bristol City star repaid that decision with the opening goal, while former Chelsea prospect Ola Aina made sure of the points with a fantastic strike and his first goal for the club. (Congrats, Ola!) Speaking of Chelsea boys, Conor Gallagher and the legend that is Branislav Ivanović both started for the Baggies. Gallagher has played the full 90 in West Brom’s last three Premier League matches (2 draws, 1 loss).
As far as Ruben’s concerned, we can only hope this isn’t a sign of things to come. Expecting him to start or play in every games is probably unrealistic (even if Fulham’s schedule is relatively sparse with just the one game each weekend), but the point of his move was to play as much as possible. Parker reassured afterwards that the Chelsea loanee will have a big role to play, though obviously the proof will be in the pudding.
“Ruben had been out for a long time, came into the club late and has played two games. I just felt Bobby was the one and we went with him.
“Ruben will have a lot of game time this year and he’ll bring his quality and will have a lot to offer. He’ll help us moving forward, no doubt. He didn’t start this one but he’ll have a big part to play.”
-Scott Parker; source: West London Sport
Fulham midfielder Mario Lemina (also on loan) suffered a hamstring injury in this game, which could perhaps provide a chance for Loftus-Cheek to play bit deeper than this wing business we’ve seen recently from both Lampard (during Project Restart) and now Parker.