Fulham have turned a corner of late, drawing their last five league games to move two points behind Brighton with two games in hand as they look to move out of the relegation zone.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are in desperate need of a victory having won just one of their last six league games, dropping to ninth in the table as a result.
The Blues are odds-on 1/2 favourites to win the match, with the draw 10/3 and a Fulham upset 11/2.
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As usual, I think Frank Lampard’s side are too short here, and certainly won’t be backing them to win at those odds given that they’ve lost their last three on the road.
Chelsea do have a good record against their west London rivals, though, having remained unbeaten in the last 18 league meetings between the two teams (W11, D7 since a 1-0 loss in March 2006).
However, Scott Parker’s side are comfortably the best of the last four Fulham teams to have competed in the Premier League in recent seasons (not that that’s saying much), putting in impressive performances on the way to draws against Liverpool and Tottenham, for example.
Personally, then, I’m more inclined to look towards cards for this one. Peter Bankes is the referee at Craven Cottage, with the 33-year-old showing both sides he has officiated at least one card each in all six of his Premier League matches this season, at an average of four cards per game.
Fulham, meanwhile, have received two or more cards in 13 of their 16 league games, with nine of Chelsea’s 17 opponents picking up two or more cards this season.
Chelsea have been more cynical in recent weeks, too, picking up at least one card in six of their last eight league matches, at an average of two cards per game in that timespan.
I’m happy to back Parker’s side to receive 2+ cards once again then, while also backing Chelsea to pick up one or more given their increase in cards of late (and Bankes’ faultless 1+ each record):
This bet landed in Fulham’s aforementioned draws with Spurs and Liverpool, so hopefully it does once again!
In terms of player bets, N’Golo Kante is suspended for the short trip having amassed his fifth yellow card in the defeat to Manchester City, so Jorginho is likely to anchor Chelsea’s midfield.
If this is the case, the Italian midfielder is surely due a domestic card having somehow avoided one in his seven league starts so far this season after receiving 10 in 27 starts last season.
One man who was certainly lucky to avoid a caution of his own was Harrison Reed against Spurs on Wednesday, with the Fulham midfielder making six fouls as he struggled to deal with Tanguy Ndombele’s powerful runs through the middle.
Reed and Jorginho are two players who love to get stuck in despite their lack of physical ability, so 20/1 (Betfair) for the pair of holding midfielders to be booked is a price I’ll be jumping all over providing Jorginho starts.
Reece James is rumoured to be fit again, meanwhile, with 5/1 (Sky Bet) too big for the right-back to be carded given he has received three in 12 league starts this season and is likely to be up against Fulham’s most fouled player in Ademola Lookman. If James doesn’t make it, Cesar Azpilicueta is 6/1 with Bet Victor, with the Spaniard booked twice in his six league starts this season.
You could make another double with Chelsea’s starting right-back and one of Zambo Anguissa, Joachim Anderson, Timothee Robinson or Bobby Reid, who have each been carded three or more times for Fulham this season.
Lookman is one of many players on show who have regularly tested the opposition goalkeeper this season, meanwhile:
(1+ Shot on Target / Starts)
Lookman 9 / 11
Abraham 8 / 9
Cavaleiro 6 / 12 (10 shots on target in last seven starts since moving into a central role)
Pulisic 5 / 8
Werner 9 / 15
Take your pick depending on which of these players start and the odds available with various bookmakers! Personally I’ve got my eyes on Pulisic at 1/2 (Sky Bet) and Cavaleiro at 4/6 (Betfair).
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