Can Fulham continue their recent resurgence in the Premier League and move closer to potential survival when they make the short trip south to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace (12pm Sunday; TV: Live on BBC1)? Read on for our CPFC vs FFC preview with betting tips to find out.
Just a couple of weeks back, Fulham were eight points shy of safety and beginning to look dead and buried. Some statistical models gave them a 70% or more chance of being relegated, and the bookmakers weren’t much more favourable.
Seven points from their last three fixtures, combined with a pair of defeats for Newcastle, on whom Fulham also made up their game in hand, means they are now just three points from survival. They are still third favourites to go down alongside Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion, but they are inching ever closer to evens and now have a fighting chance.
Scott Parker’s side were 1-0 winners over Sheffield United last weekend. They had piled on 11 shots without reply before finally going ahead with their 12th effort of the match just past the hour mark as Ademola Lookman cut inside a defender and fired home from inside the area. They survived a couple of scares thereafter, including a point-blank save from goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to deny the visitors an equaliser, to come away with all three points.
Fulham made an awful start to the season on their return to the top flight following a one-year absence, losing five and drawing one of their opening six fixtures. Two wins in four thereafter was then followed by a 12-match winless streak between early December and early February, finally broken by their 2-0 win away at Everton two weekends back.
There have been signs of improvement in their performance levels as the campaign has gone on. The problem is that they generally haven’t been able to convert that into victories. Only Brighton have drawn more matches than Fulham’s total of 10, which is 40% of their matches. If just a couple of those had been victories, they would be clear of the bottom three right now.
As it is, survival is now in sight and Fulham could even move out of the bottom three with victory on Sunday if Newcastle are unable to take a point at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers the day before.
Crystal Palace are the side that stand in their way. They have some of the worst underlying numbers in the league and a worse goal difference than four of the seven teams below them in the table, including Fulham. Nevertheless, they find themselves safely ensconced in mid-table, 10 points clear of the bottom three and just three points from the top 10.
Palace have finished 11th, 12th and 14th since Roy Hodgson took charge in September 2017 and seem on course for another similar placing this time around.
Monday night’s 2-1 win away to rivals Brighton was the perfect encapsulation of Palace’s season. They were thoroughly outshot, 24 to three, but came away with maximum points. Jean-Philippe Mateta put them ahead just before the half hour and, after their hosts had equalised early second half, Christian Benteke popped up with an injury time winner. That was his first goal since mid-December.
Hodgson’s side achieved a similar balancing act between performances and results last season, finishing 14th with the league’s fourth worst metrics. While another year of Premier League football now almost certainly awaits them, it is unlikely to be one they can continue to perform season-upon-season. An old squad is still in need of serious refreshing, even if players like Eberechi Eze and, if signed permanently, Mateta do point towards the future.
Palace were 2-1 winners when these sides met at Craven Cottage back in October, with Jairo Riedewald and Wilfried Zaha getting their goals. They have won three of their last five matches and therefore certainly cannot be discounted, but this feels like the sort of match that Fulham can and need to win if they are to avoid the drop. Backing them to do so seems a solid way to go.
So our betting tip for this Crystal Palace vs Fulham preview is:
- Back Fulham to win @ best odds of 5/4 with William Hill and a couple of others (see odds table below).
Compare CPFC vs FFC Betting Odds for Outright Match Winner from the Bookies