Saturday evening's west London derby promises plenty with Fulham on course for automatic promotion while visitors Brentford are still in the battle for a play-off place. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"Fulham’s midweek win extended their unbeaten streak to 20 (W16-D4-L0) and means the Cottagers have now averaged 2.33 points per-game since the November international break (W17-D5-L2)."
Fulham v Brentford
Saturday 14th April, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports Football
Fulham marching on
Fulham climbed into the automatic promotion places on Tuesday night thanks to a narrow 1-0 victory over relegation-threatened Reading at Craven Cottage. Stefan Johansen's strike came against the run of play in the first half but the Cottagers soon took control of proceedings to seal another home success.
With just four games to play, Slavisa Jokanovic's side moved into the top-two for the first time this season and their Tuesday evening triumph could have been more comfortable should Johansen have taken opportunities to extend the advantage after the interval.
Fulham will check on winger Floyd Ayite after limped off early last weekend and missed the midweek match. Otherwise, Jokanovic has a fully-fit squad for the Craven Cottage derby clash.
Bees remain in top-six contention
Brentford remain in the hunt for a play-off place following a narrow win at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night. Danish right-back Henrik Dalsgaard's late diving header from Josh McEachran's corner settled matters as the Bees extended their unbeaten streak to five with a third 1-0 win on the spin.
Forest enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes, forcing goalkeeper Daniel Bentley into a few smart stops. But Dean Smith's side improved with the Bees looking neat and tidy and some typically slick attacking play created a couple of openings for top scorer Neal Maupay before Dalsgaard's winner.
The victory moved Brentford to within four points of the top-six and Smith felt his team's "game management was excellent" as they bid to come to the boil at just the right time. The visitors will welcome back Ryan Woods from suspension and Dutch winger Florian Jozefzoon should also return to the fold here.
Difficult to oppose in-form hosts
Fulham's [1.79] midweek win extended their unbeaten streak to 20 (W16-D4-L0) and means the Cottagers have now averaged 2.33 points per-game since the November international break (W17-D5-L2).
Slavisa Jokanovic's troops have proven particularly strong operators at Craven Cottage, claiming 11 victories in their past 12 home outings, nine of which arrived alongside a clean sheet.
Only Wolves (13) and Fulham (11) have won more often on the road than Brentford (9) but the Bees [4.70] have tended to do their best work at the league's lesser lights. Dean Smith's side have returned W2-D2-L6 at top-half teams and been beaten in 11 of their previous 13 trips to the top-six.
Brentford have fired blanks in seven games as guests at the current top-12 this term and with Lasse Vibe no longer at the club, the visitors may lack the finishing touch to truly trouble Fulham here.
Go against the goals grain
For two teams renowned for playing attractive football, neither Fulham nor Brentford have been regular winners in the Over 2.5 Goals [1.81] column this season. Despite the pair featured in the top-six for efforts attempted, the duo have paid-out in just 16/42 (38%) of their collective home/away games.
With Under 2.5 Goals returning profit in 26/42 (62%) of those ties, a punt opposing goals appears attractive value at [2.14]. It's also banked in 12/16 (75%) collective home/away fixtures against top-10 teams this term.
Mark's 2017/18 Profit/Loss
Staked: 153.00 pts
Returned: 168.29 pts
P/L: +15.29 pts
*Prior to Friday*
Back Fulham to win @ [1.79]
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ [2.14]