Relegation-threatened Fulham host Wolves on Friday night, with Scott Parker's side desperate for a win. Jake Osgathorpe previews the game, selecting a couple of odds against best bets.
2pts Wolves Draw no Bet at 5/4 (BetVictor)
1pt Over 2.5 Goals at 8/5 (Unibet)
After last weekend’s disappointing 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa, a game in which Fulham led 1-0 with 15 minutes to play, the Cottagers are now three points from safety having played a game more than their direct rivals Newcastle.
They are a team who have received a lot of love for their approach this season, but I personally haven’t seen what all the fuss has been about, as in my opinion, a better coach than Scott Parker would have steered this squad of players to safety already.
Fulham are team stacked with talent, but are playing in a system that doesn’t help them, and that is reflected in their underlying numbers, which have been underwhelming – especially at Craven Cottage.
The relegation strugglers have won just five of 31 games this season, which is a poor return, while they prop up the home table, having won just two of 16 games at the Cottage this season.
For more perspective, those two wins came against the current bottom two – West Brom and Sheffield United – so Scott Parker's side haven’t beaten anyone above them when playing on home turf.
They are a team who struggle to create chances when hosting, averaging just 1.09 expected goals for (xGF) per game, which is of huge concern given their predicament.
Defensively, while they have looked relatively solid at times, their expected goals against (xGA) per game figure of 1.59 at Craven Cottage highlights vulnerability.
To me, Fulham are at their best when they can sit deep and counter-attack, but with the onus on them to attack at home, they can often leave themselves exposed when trying to take the game to the opposition.
Wolves represent a team who also like to play in the same manner, with their best asset being a swift counter-attack, so this appears a really bad match-up for Fulham.
Wolves’ season has turned into a nothing one, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s side out of all competitions and nowhere near close enough to challenge for European places.
This has led to them playing looser and with more freedom, as Nuno attempts to shift Wolves from a rigid, defence-first team to a flamboyant, attack-minded side.
That was shown on Monday night, where they fielded all of Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Adama Traore and Willian Jose in their 3-2 defeat to West Ham, a game in which they won the expected goals (xG) battle 2.57 to 1.54.
In fact, while Wolves are winless in five games, and have won just three of 10, the Old Gold have won the xG battle in six of those 10 matches, suggesting that they are playing better than their results would lead you to believe.
They have the firepower to do some serious damage to this Fulham team, and if they continue to operate this more attack-minded approach, they could be a fun watch for the rest of the season.
But, based on my assessment of Fulham, they aren’t a bet at around 7/5 in this game.
I want to get Wolves on side, but with the double chance a short 4/7 generally, I’m happy to take WOLVES DRAW NO BET at 5/4.
This bet only loses if Fulham get the three points, with us getting our money back if the game ends in a draw, and a nice return if Wolves go to Craven Cottage and win – just like 10 teams have managed to do this season.
Also, going against the grain, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this being a high-scoring game.
Fulham need to get results at this stage of the campaign, so will have to go for broke at some point in this game, while Wolves have been playing with more attacking intent of late.
OVER 2.5 GOALS is priced as the 8/5 outsider here, but has landed in all of Fulham’s last three, and in two of Wolves’ last four.
In total, 44% of Fulham’s home games have gone over the 2.5 line, with 47% of Wolves away games seeing three goals or more. I think chancing goals at a big price is worth a small punt.
Score prediction: Fulham 1-2 Wolves (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
Odds correct at 1530 BST (07/04/21)
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