x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

High number of draws is costing Fulham dear

Prior to Sunday, Fulham had lost only five league matches all season – as many defeats as championship-challenging Arsenal. It is the draws that are counting against them.

Mark Hughes was a man under fire on Sunday as Fulham supporters booed him following his side's 3-1 defeat to West Ham United at Craven Cottage.

The loss put the London side in the relegation zone and led to speculation over Hughes's future, despite him having only taken over the job in the summer.

The 2-0 win at Stoke on Tuesday alleviated some of that pressure, but going into 2011 there is no doubt that they are embroiled in a fight to beat the drop and are enduring their worst season for three years.

So what has gone wrong? Well, not too much, on the face of it. Prior to Sunday, Fulham had lost only five league matches all season - as many defeats as championship-challenging Arsenal.

Their problem has been draws. Too many of them to be precise. They have had 10 in 19 games, and have won only three times.

Four of those drawn games were goalless, but on five other occasions they came from behind to earn parity, so it could be argued that a point was better than none. But in the era of three points for a victory, earning only a point in a lot of games will not be enough.

Fulham have been hurt on the scoring front by the loss of Bobby Zamora to a broken leg, and it is the lack of goals that are holding back the team.

Since Zamora was sidelined Fulham have scored 13 goals in 15 games, averaging 0.86 goals a game.

In that period they have scored two or more goals only once, against Wigan in October.

It is the same story for Fulham's fellow strugglers Birmingham, who have drawn 10 out of 18 games and sit outside the relegation places only on goal difference.

They also have lost only five games, but three wins is not enough to be in the top half of the table.

They are averaging a goal a game and Alex McLeish, the Birmingham manager, is sure to be looking at ways to improve his frontline options in next month's transfer window.

gcaygill@thenational.ae