It really has been boom or bust for Fulham to this point.
Their possession stats have suggested they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with once Scott Parker managed to finalise his plans going forward and players grow accustomed to the plan, but two defeats have left fans wondering how slow this process could be.
It’s been more of a struggle for Cardiff City – who have shipped eight times in five games, and yet find themselves only two points off their visitors today.
But, we’re approaching a part of the league season now where results should become consistent with your performances, and the ad hoc restraints like fitness become non-issues.
This one could be a belter on Friday night.
Fulham to win – 6/4
Far be it from me to go against a Neil Warnock side at home, but this team just doesn’t feel like a Warnock side of old – and the Cardiff City Stadium is a far cry from any second-tier fortress he’s had in the past.
For so long Warnock teams would bully, but this team doesn’t have that in their DNA. That’s the problem with relegated sides. So often, they have the technical prowess, but not the mettle required to see out a 46-game slog.
They require different components. But, should a very good and inventive footballing coach take over a relegated side, they can play around teams that try to kick you or fire it down on top of your shorter centre half.
This is definitely not the case with Cardiff, and more players will want to leave this Draconian attempt at association football than embrace the tried-and-tired training sessions he’s been running for the past two decades.
Fulham win this one and questions start being asked.
Both Teams to Score – 6/10
This year, Fulham have an xG of 1.71 while their opponents are in or around the 1.13 mark. This alone is enough to suggest this market selection, but even without the expected goals there’s plenty of goals in this team. Despite dominating 63% of the ball to date, Fulham also look even more effective on the break.
Meanwhile, Cardiff’s Josh Murphy is one of the best players in the Championship and the second-balls that are a constant in any Warnock-led game-plan suit his talents – especially as Fulham’s work-rate off the ball leaves something to be desired.
One thing that the Bluebirds are doing well this year is pressing the ball and that’s something that will get Fulham’s footballing centre-halves in trouble. There’s goals written all over this game.
Aleksandar Mitrovic to score anytime – 7/5
Fulham put an average of 25 crosses into the box per game, which is considerably over the league average. They win 7.2 corners per game, too. Mitrovic is the best header of the ball in the Championship, and is a threat under Parker’s fast-tempo build-up too.
Given Cardiff’s struggles at the back, including a less-than-physically-ideal centre half pairing, this seems set up for the Serb to do serious damage in all areas of general play.
Sit in? Fulham pass the ball well enough to stretch you.
Open up? Mitrovic can run in behind, drop short to link-up play. Man-mark him? Good luck.
* All odds correct at time of posting.