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If I’m honest, Fulham’s escape attempt is the angle that excites me most about the run-in in the Premier League. Whether that speaks more to the fact that Man City seemed to have won the league over a six-week period, Liverpool’s starting XI doesn’t combine to have the talent Virgil van Dijk possesses in his weak foot or that Man United are half-decent again, I don’t know.
But, fair play to Scott Parker for somehow making Fulham – the most mundane club in the league by any distance – the focus of my attention again. I’m not sure that’s factored in when they consider offering him an extension or not, but it should be.
Friday 20:00 – Fulham v Wolves
BT Sport 1
Wolves have suffered from second-season syndrome, too – albeit in their third season. The funny thing about them is that their entire campaign can be positively defined through two particular spells. There was that win over Chelsea earlier in the year in isolation, and then their three-wins-in-four span in February where they drew with Leicester and beat Arsenal, Leeds and Southampton.
That’s just been enough to see them through, but they’re every bit as mediocre as the sides below them, and now they’re demotivated. Is this a blessing for Fulham? Here’s a Bet Builder to explain.
I think you can certainly make the case that Fulham have been unlucky over the last while. Spurs beating them one-nil was ill-deserved. They fell victim to the Jekyll and Hyde Leeds United, before playing exceptionally well in defeat to Man City, and they were ahead against Villa with 12 minutes to go.
And they’re not a Bournemouth case, either. Eddie Howe syndrome I call it – where they perennially get plaudits for good football, but end up being rubbish when you look at the league table at season’s end.
This Fulham team have their core beliefs, but Aleksandar Mitrovic – who definitely hasn’t scored any international goals lately, don’t even look it up – is their go-to when they need to force games. I believe that adaptability can see them land the spoils at home on a tight pitch.
What do you get when an under-motivated side have to travel half the country on a Friday night in a dull fixture against a team who know they have to win the game in question?
You get a scoreless draw at half-time – like clockwork. Wolves won’t force the issue and Fulham will be encouraged to reset and keep the ball for long spells. This is the blueprint, and I can’t stay I’m enthused to switch on the first 45.
The price for this probably reflects how likely it is, but despite their recent trends, both sides are fairly happy for games to pass them by and only really switch on in key moments.
It’s not worked for either of them because they both lack a clinical striker to bag them points by himself, but they very much accept what they deserve in games. To be honest, in a season that’s produced so many goals, you can see why that’s hurt them.
In times of turmoil, turn to the angry Serbian to save the day. While Wolves are compact in central areas, they really only get caught out when the play is spread. And early doors, Fulham will try and play through the thirds to no avail.
Eventually, they’ll cause centre halves to mark space rather than men – and that’s where the lethal striker is best.
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