High-flying Coventry entertain recently-relegated Fulham in Saturday afternoon's televised Championship clash. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"Marco Silva’s men haven’t always gotten their just deserts but their midweek victory snapped an indifferent run of results and the Cottagers’ supreme firepower commands maximum respect"
Coventry embarrassed in midweek
Coventry manager Mark Robins described the Sky Blues 5-0 capitulation at the hands of Luton on Wednesday night as an "embarrassment" as City's climb up the Championship standings was abruptly halted at Kenilworth Road. The visitors were behind inside the first three minutes and were 4-0 down at half-time with the Hatters in rampant form.
The 5-0 thrashing was Coventry's biggest league defeat since December 2006 and Robins admitted the result brought the high-flyers back to earth with a bump. Pulling no punches, the Sky Blues supremo said, "I'm glad it's all over, to be honest. When you lose like that it's embarrassing. There's no getting away from it, it's an embarrassment."
City's forgettable midweek match also saw key midfielder Gustavo Hamer collect a needless caution, ruling him out of Saturday's showdown with Fulham. Right wing-back Fankaty Dabo returns from a ban this weekend and could displace Todd Kane, whilst skipper Liam Kelly could make his return as he continues his recovery from long-term injury.
Mitro fires Fulham back to winning ways
Aleksandar Mitrovic's first-half hat-trick helped Fulham return to winning ways on Wednesday night as the Cottagers picked up a welcome 3-1 success over Swansea at Craven Cottage. The Whites had won just once in their previous four outings, although the Serb's treble has pushed Marco Silva's men up to third and only two points off the summit.
Mitrovic, who missed a hatful of chances at Bristol City on Saturday, was in potent mood in midweek, making it 10 goals in just nine club appearances now this season as Fulham ruthlessly exposed Swansea's deficiencies. Despite enjoying just 38% of the ball, the hosts won the shots on-target count 7-1 and Expected Goals (xG) battle 1.71 to 0.89.
Silva was particularly pleased with his team's first-half efforts, saying "In the first hlaf we did so well. We had some fantastic moments. Our offensive organisation and our offensive transition - we had two fantastic moments on the counter-attack." However, an injury to Joe Bryan is a concern with first-choice left-back Antonee Robinson already missing.
Coventry and Fulham are locking horns in head-to-head league action on Saturday for the first time since 1968 when the pair were playing in the top-flight. The two teams have met just twice in 38 years since - a pair of second round League Cup ties that both ended all-square and were settled on the away goals rule in Coventry's favour.
Coventry 3.6013/5 are the early surprise package in the Championship, operating inside the top-six after 10 matches with underlying performance metrics suggesting Mark Robins' men are good value for their strong form. The Sky Blues boast a 100% record from five fixtures at their CBS Arena base, although Saturday's showdown will be City's first major test.
Pre-season favourites Fulham 2.0811/10 have produced a series of largely dominant displays. Marco Silva's men haven't always gotten their just deserts (W6-D2-L2) but their midweek victory snapped an indifferent run of results since the international break and the Cottagers' supreme firepower commands maximum respect. The guests remain the team to beat.
Coventry have conceded just once in five home fixtures, however, following their forgettable trip to Luton, confidence in the hosts' defence is bound to have been shaken. Meanwhile, Fulham have collected only two league shutouts under Marco Silva, neither of which has been achieved on the Cottagers' travels, suggesting goals could be on the menu.
Surprisingly, Over 2.5 Goals is trading at 1.9420/21 this weekend, although the 4.2016/5 for Fulham to win and Both Teams To Score looks worth the significant boost in price. Seven of the Whites' 10 games have delivered BTTS winners, including four of their six triumphs this term, whilst Coventry rank fourth for non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) output.
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