Time is beginning to run out for Fulham if they are to haul themselves up out of the Premier League’s bottom three and they could really do with taking maximum points when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Craven Cottage on Friday (8pm; TV: Live on BT Sport).
It feels like Fulham have been on the verge of overtaking Newcastle in 17th for a while now, but with every week that passes their chances of actually doing so lessen. They remain odds-on favourites to be relegated alongside Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion.
A little flurry of three wins in six between mid-February and early March moved Fulham within touching distance of safety. Three straight defeats since, combined with the fact that Newcastle have started to cobble together some draws, means that three points still separate them from safety. Newcastle have also played a game less than Fulham.
The latest loss for Scott Parker’s side came away to Aston Villa on Sunday. They edged the first hour and then went ahead after Aleksandar Mitrovic pounced on a wayward back-pass to round the goalkeeper and finish. Villa came back strongly, with three goals, all of them from crosses, in the final quarter-hour reversing the score and consigning Fulham to a 1-3 defeat.
Parker afterwards bemoaned his side’s inability to see the game out, as another opportunity for points slipped away. With just seven matches now left to play, they need to get some additional points on the board sooner rather than later if they are to stay within touching distance of Newcastle ahead of their potentially decisive final day encounter at Craven Cottage.
Fulham have a mixed fixture list before that, with matches away to top-five sides Chelsea and Manchester City and top-half Arsenal mixed in with three fixtures against teams currently in the bottom eight. That latter group includes Friday’s visitors Wolverhampton Wanderers, who have endured a disappointing season by the standards they have set since their return to the top flight in 2018.
After consecutive seventh-place finishes, it is highly unlikely Wolves will even finish in the top half this time around, an assertion backed up by the fact that they can be found at as long as 20/1 to do so. They are 14th, comfortably clear of the drop zone, but seven points away from Arsenal in 10th. Realistically, 12th is probably the highest they can now finish.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have been worse at both ends of the pitch this season. They averaged just a single goal per match while conceding 1.37 per match. In fact, with eight matches still to play, they have already conceded one more goal than they did in the entirety of last season. This drop off in their top line numbers has been more or less mirrored in the underlying numbers.
Any hopes Wolves may have of mounting a late push for a higher placing should probably be tempered by the fact that they have only twice won consecutive matches this season. They also travel south on the back of a five-match winless streak of two draws and three defeats.
The last of those losses came at home to West Ham on Monday. Wolves made things incredibly hard for themselves by going three down inside 40 minutes. Despite a strong rally thereafter in which they created a good number of chances and scored twice through Leander Dendoncker and then Fabio Silva, they were unable to force an equaliser.
Will they have better luck on Friday? Wolves were 1-0 winners when the sides met at Molineux earlier this season, with Pedro Neto scoring the only goal of the game. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if the return encounter produced a similar result.
For all that Wolves do seem to be struggling at the moment, particularly in front of goal, Fulham are in bad form themselves and seem to be running low on ideas at a crucial juncture of the campaign. A fifth defeat in six may just be on the cards. So this is our betting tip for this FFC vs WWFC preview:
- Bet on Wolverhampton Wanderers to win @ best odds of 9/4 with BetVictor.
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