Verdict: Fulham so much better defensively – but will go down without a striker

Fulham gave it a go but they came up short against a dominant Manchester United.

The visitors looked every inch title contenders, and hit back after Ademola Lookman’s early goal with strikes from Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba.

Fair play to Andre Frank-Anguissa for the defence-splitting pass that set up Lookman to open the scoring. It couldn’t have been more inch-perfect.

Fulham were shedding goals in the first five minutes of early games like it was part of the game’s laws, but this time they took advantage of a slow-starting United.

The tiniest of gripes, but the last person Fulham player to touch the ball before it ended up in their net was Alphonse Areola.

His palm back into danger set up Mason Mount for the Chelsea winner on Saturday.

In this one, he stuttered into the cross to all but drop it at the feet of Cavani for the equaliser.

The keeper’s been top drawer so far, and was soon making amends with a decent save from Bruno Fernandes backed up by even better parries, but if you gift the best sides with presents, they say thanks very much and see you back in the centre circle.

It’s not his fault, he’s doing his best, but step forward Ivan Cavaleiro for a weekly reminder that stumbling over your feet is what they do in League Two.

He did it on Saturday in front of goal against Chelsea – even Scott Parker commented on the gaff – and he did it in the first half when through on the left.

“Shocking touch,” said TV co-commentator Jermaine Jenas. Some might call his description generous.

In the second half, a good through ball down the left hit Cavaleiro’s heel. Bad luck? OK, but it would have to be Cav.

His defensive kick in the air before watching Harrison Reed trying to tackle Pogba just before he took lethal aim, summed it up for the Portuguese and his boss.

Shortly after, that was enough for Parker. “It’s not been one of his better games,” offered Mr Jenas.

You can say that again.

On that subject, Fulham will go down unless they can find a forward in some type of form during this month’s transfer window.

Cavaleiro? As above. Alexander Mitrovic? Not at the moment. Abou Kamara? Not a chance.

The fact that Kamara was favoured ahead of Mitro off the bench says much about the paucity of Fulham’s threat.

Parker has to hope those behind the scenes find him someone, anyone, that gets better luck in front of goal.

On the plus side, Tosin Adarabioyo and Joachim Andersen are becoming as good as any central defenders in the Premier League.

They barely put a foot wrong against the table-toppers, and not many can to say that this term.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek had one of his better games.

The final pull on the trigger was missing, but he loaded up with meaningful, determined runs, and actually looked as if he was running faster. In this division, that makes a big difference.

Joe Bryan?

Back for the first time as a starter since October 4, it was another solid performance for the left-back hoping to cash in Antonee Robinson’s suspension.

Bryan is that sort of player: solid. Tidy, if you prefer; nothing spectacular, but very competent.

But he’s going to have come up with the spectacular over the next two games, ie a goal or telling crosses that produce goals if he is to usurp the fleet-footed Robinson on a longer basis.