Fulham take on Leeds United in the Premier League on Friday in a 8pm kick-off at Craven Cottage.
Fulham can move outside of the relegation zone with a victory, while Leeds can move one place up to 11th by avoiding defeat.
Scott Parker’s side are marginal 11/8 favourites, with the draw 12/5 and a Leeds win 2/1.
Given that Fulham have lost five of their last seven league games at home, I’m surprised to see them marked as favourites.
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However, Marcelo Bielsa’s side appear to have run out of steam in the last six weeks, winning only two of their last eight league games.
It’s tough to see many goals here, to be honest. The reverse fixture ended 4-3 to Leeds in September, but both sides have changed quite a bit since then.
Leeds have still regularly been involved in goal-fests, of course, particularly against the stronger sides in the division, but they showed a growing ability to grind out results in the 0-0 draw against Chelsea last weekend, with Bielsa clearly instructing his players to sit back.
Fulham, meanwhile, have really tightened up at both ends of the pitch since that defeat. Their 3-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend ended a run of eight consecutive games with fewer than three goals scored at either end; five of those eight actually saw fewer than two, too.
Indeed, in their 27 league games since that defeat to Leeds, over 3.5 goals has only landed twice in Fulham’s matches. This goal line has not been surpassed in any of Leeds’ last five games, either, with both teams to score failing to land in six of their last seven games.
Both teams to score has actually failed to land in eight of Fulham’s last nine league games, too, so I’m very surprised this is priced at 11/10 (Sky Bet) so this will be my main play.
Another odds-against bet which I quite like is 4+ corners each team and 2+ cards overall at 11/10 (bet365).
Fulham have earned 4+ corners in eight of their last nine league games, including in their last three against Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham, while Leeds have hit this line in 17 of their last 18 league games.
David Coote officiates and while I find him frustratingly inconsistent with regards to when he chooses to go to his pocket, he has shown 30+ booking points in 10 of his 14 PL games this season, while only Sheffield United receiving more cards than Fulham’s tally of 52 yellows and three reds this season. This represents a massive game in the battle to survive for them, too, so they won’t be shy of taking a tactical foul if necessary.
Adding the two bets together (BTTS – No, Over 1 Card, 4+ corners each team) provides a tasty 3/1 shot (bet365).
There’s not too much with regards to player props in this game which interests me to be honest, but I do like Raphinha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both to have a shot on target from outside of the area each at 10/1 (Sky Bet) providing both players start.
Raphinha has had at least one shot on target in 16 of his last 19 league games, while Loftus-Cheek has had at least one in seven of his last 14 starts. Crucially, both players posses a fierce shot from distance, making this bet decent value in my eyes.
If Antonee Robinson starts at left-back for Fulham I’d be quite keen on him to be carded at 4/1 (Sky Bet) against Raphinha, with the full-back more comfortable attacking than defending. He’s always got a nasty tackle in his locker having received four cards in 19 starts this season, but Ola Aina could be preferred by Parker on that flank.
Luke Ayling (also 4/1, Sky Bet & bet365) would make a lovely 25/1 double with Robinson given that he will be up against Ademola Lookman, Fulham’s most talented dribbler and most fouled player, and has been carded five times in the league already this season. Harrison Reed (10/3, Sky Bet & bet365) is always a favourite of mine when it comes to backing bookings so could always be doubled up with Ayling should Robinson miss out.