Fulham's inability to keep a clean sheet is massively hindering their potential in the Premier League

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THE COTTAGERS ARE LEAKING GOALS AT AN ALARMING RATE

Premier League new boys Fulham have struggled since being reinstated into the top flight this season. The Cottagers, now managed by former Chelsea and Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri after the sacking of Slavisa Jokanovic in November, have conceded an astonishing 53 goals in 24 games this term - seven more than anyone else in the division.

The Lilywhites have also kept just two clean sheets all season, with their last coming against fellow strugglers Huddersfield at the end of 2018. Currently 19th in the Premier League, Fulham are in real danger of relegation back to the Championship if they don't sort out their defensive frailties.

One thing that the West London club can do however is find the net at the opposing end of the pitch, with leading striker Aleksandar Mitrovic netting 10 goals so far, dwarfing the amount obtained by any other front man in the bottom six. Southampton's Danny Ings is the next highest scorer with seven to his name, while Newcastle's Salomon Rondon has six after his timely strike against Manchester City on Tuesday evening.

SCHURRLE'S CONTRIBUTION FROM MIDFIELD COULD BE THE DIFFERENCE

Mitrovic is the main supply of goals at Craven Cottage, that much is clear, however midfielder Andre Schurrle - formerly of Chelsea - has also chipped in with six goals this term, with his world class strike against Burnley earlier this month a contender for goal of the season as things stand.

Having a midfielder who can not only create chances but also help with goals is rare at the foot of the table, with Fulham the only team possessing such qualities in the bottom six.

With 25 goals scored in total this season, Fulham have averaged just over a goal a game and should they start to sort out their defensive incapabilities for the remaining four months of the campaign, Ranieri's side should have enough about them to avoid the drop this season.

Schurrle Fulham
Few teams in the bottom half of the division have a midfielder and striker who can guarantee them goals

VITAL MONTH AHEAD FOR RANIERI'S MEN

With games against Crystal Palace, Manchester United, West Ham and Southampton approaching, February is a pivotal month for Fulham.

The Cottagers desperately need to take a minimum of four points from those four fixtures if they're to start clawing themselves out of danger, but will take some huge momentum from last night's win over Brighton at Craven Cottage.

After finding themselves 2-0 down within the opening 17 minutes thanks to a brace from Seagulls front man Glenn Murray, the West Londoners put in a spirited second half performance to win the tie 4-2, with a rare strike from defensive midfielder Calum Chambers partnering goals from leading man Aleksandar Mitrovic (2) and Luciano Vietto.

This result again sums up Fulham's season - free scoring at one end of the field but unbelievably shaky at the other. It's been the same situation all year: four defeats in 2019 against Tottenham, Burnley, Oldham and Arsenal have all come with a consolation goal, but consolation goals don't earn you points and something needs to change before it's too late.

FULHAM HAVE A SQUAD CAPABLE OF SUCCESS IN THE TOP FLIGHT

With players like Mitrovic, Schurrle, Ryan Sessegnon and John Serri all available to them, led by a manager who pulled off one of the biggest miracles in footballing history just three years ago, Fulham shouldn't find themselves in such a precarious position at this stage of the season.

The Cottagers find little problems in scoring, which at the bottom of the table is key. All they have to do is tighten things up defensively and the future could look bright for last season's Championship playoff winners.

One thing is for certain however, if they fail to neglect their issues at the back then sides like Southampton, Cardiff, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Newcastle - all of which have the ability to keep occasional clean sheets - will soon decide their fate for them, returning the club to the second tier after just one season back in the Premier League.

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