Fulham start 2013 with a bang

Kacaniklic slams winner as Jols side stun high-flying West Brom 2-1

Fulham winger Alex Kacaniklic sealed a 2-1 Premier League win at high-flying West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday to end a sorry run of results for the Londoners.

Martin Jol's side had won only one of their last 12 games but began 2013 with a bang against the club he graced as a player with Dimitar Berbatov giving the dominant visitors a 39th-minute lead when his shot evaded goalkeeper Ben Foster.

West Brom, riding high in seventh spot, improved markedly after the break and Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku increased speculation about a possible recall by parent club Chelsea this month by capping a superb display with a 49th-minute tap-in.

The hosts then hit the post twice but 12th-placed Fulham would not be denied and Swedish winger Kacaniklic expertly spun on the edge of the area before stroking the ball home 13 minutes into the second half.

Van Persie, the difference

Robin van Persie's decision to join Manchester United instead of Manchester City is proving the difference in the race to the Premier League title, according to City manager Roberto Mancini.

The Dutch striker joined United from Arsenal for a reported 24 million pounds ($39 million) last August and his 14 goals in 20 league games have helped Alex Ferguson's team open a seven-point Premier League lead over defending champions City.
“At the moment, he is the difference between us,” Mancini told local media. “He has scored 14 Premier League goals and it is clear he has changed their situation.

“We were very close three or four months before he joined United. We were sure he was for us but it didn't happen.

“We wanted Van Persie because we knew he was totally different from our other strikers. We wanted to improve our team, particularly for the Champions League. We were very close to signing him, I know what the reason was (why he opted for United) but I won't say. It was not about money.”

When Van Persie, 29, joined United in the close season he said he had “listened to the little boy inside me.”

“In these situations, when you have to make a hard decision in your life, I always listen to that little boy inside me. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Manchester United,” he said.

With Van Persie forming a deadly partnership with Wayne Rooney, United have scored 50 goals in their first 20 games -- 12 more than City, who are the league's top scorers last season having racked up 56 goals in their first 20 games.

Sergio Aguero has been in superb form for most of the season but Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have been off-beam and Edin Dzeko has been forced to operated much of the time from the bench.

“I am happy with my strikers because last season they scored more than anyone else in the Premier League,” Mancini said. “But when you can improve your team with other top players it is important to do it. With Van Persie you can sometimes play three strikers.”

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