Cottagers to shoot down Eagles
Chris Hammer is backing Fulham to pick up three important points from their trip to Crystal Palace on Monday night.
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It's fair to say Crystal Palace have started the season as badly as we expected and as things stand Sunderland look the only danger to our hefty pre-season wager on the Eagles finishing bottom.
A measly haul of three points from the opening seven games sees them lie four adrift of safety already, with just the home victory over the Black Cats preventing them from propping up the table.
It doesn't take a genius to work out why Ian Holloway's side are struggling to cope in the top flight - their attack lacks any kind of cutting edge while they're shipping far too many goals at the back.
Along with Sunderland, Palace are one of the only two sides yet to keep a clean sheet this season and they couldn't even keep out League One outfit Bristol City during their shock Capital One Cup second-round defeat back in August.
Last time out the Eagles found themselves 3-0 down inside 38 minutes as Liverpool ran them ragged at Anfield but it really should have been a much wider margin of victory as the Reds decided to take their foot off the gas having spurned numerous chances.
At the other end of the pitch, Palace have managed only one goal in their last four games since the 3-1 victory over Sunderland and it's not as if anyone can even say they've created plenty of chances and just been unlucky inside the box.
I did mention in my outright relegation preview that Derby's lowest points record haul of 11 might even be at risk. So far I've seen little to suggest otherwise.
On Monday night they host a Fulham side who are one of the four sides on seven points but arrive at Selhurst Park on the back of a morale-boosting 1-0 victory over Stoke - their first since the opening day of the season.
Martin Jol's celebration on the touchline when Darren Bent netted what proved to be the 83rd-minute winner emphasised the pressure he must have been feeling before later branding the victory as "unbelievably important".
The Dutchman is confident about his future at Craven Cottage despite his side's precarious position but he'll certainly need a few more good results to convince everyone else considering his 'sack race' odds are currently 4/1 with Sky Bet.
However disappointing the Cottagers' results have been so far, they can at least point to a couple of hard luck stories to explain their plight unlike the Eagles.
They conceded a stoppage-time goal in their agonising 1-1 home draw with West Brom last month and suffered the same fate again two weeks later against Cardiff although this time it 'only' cost them a point rather than two.
Nevertheless, had they held on for a victory and a draw then the league table would be telling a slightly different story and perhaps one more accurate to their standing in terms of quality.
In terms of team news, Scott Parker could make a welcome return to Jol's squad having been sidelined with a calf problem while Adel Taarabt has been declared fit after the recent international matches..
All things considered, I feel Fulham are an appealing price of 17/10 to pour more misery on Palace and give their own prospects another shot in the arm.
Crystal Palace are one of only two sides yet to keep a clean sheet in the Barclays Premier League this season (alongside Sunderland)
Fulham have won four and lost just one of their last six league meetings with the Eagles.
Fulham have lost more points thanks to goals conceded in the final five minutes than any other side this term (four).
Verdict: Crystal Palace 0 Fulham 2