Saturday's early Championship encounter features a London derby as improving Fulham host newly-promoted Charlton at Craven Cottage. Mark O'Haire previews the contest.
"Scott Parker’s side were languishing in mid-table before back-to-back wins this week over Wigan (2-0) and Reading (4-1)"
Fulham v Charlton
Saturday October 5, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports Football
Fulham enjoy back-to-back wins
Fulham moved into the Championship's top-six following a 4-1 midweek thrashing of Reading. Aleksandar Mitrovic and Tom Cairney both struck twice against the 10-man Royals in Berkshire as Scott Parker's troops extended their unbeaten streak to five (W2-D3-L0), although a late consolation strike denied the Cottagers back-to-back clean sheets.
The Whites took control at the Madejski early on when midfielder Cairney grabbed his third goal in three games and things quickly fell apart for Reading when John Swift was sent off inside the opening 20 minutes. Mitrovic then helped himself to his sixth and seventh goals of the campaign, with two close-range finishes in three minutes well before the break.
Cairney added his second with a fine lob from 35 yards to put Fulham 4-0 up with more than 20 minutes left and Parker was delighted with his team's efforts, saying, "I'm pleased to come away with an outstanding performance. I felt we were first-class from the minute it started until the end, against a resilient side. We moved the ball and were clinical in attack."
Charlton fall short in midweek
Charlton could have few complaints as they failed to build on their impressive weekend win over Leeds when falling to a 2-1 home defeat against new Championship leaders Swansea on Wednesday night. The Addicks are formidable opponents on their own patch, and were beaten for only the second time in the league over the past 12 months.
Athletic were inside two minutes through Jonathan Leko's deflected effort, arriving from the first attack of the game. The Valley was rocking but Swansea grew into the contest and levelled 15 minutes later with their own deflected strike; the Welsh club enjoyed supremacy thereafter, keeping keeper Dillon Phillips busy before eventually grabbing the winner.
Lee Bowyer believed his team deserved more, saying, "I thought it was a good, even game - two teams that try to play. We started really well and got the early goal. Then we got a bit sloppy in possession and gave them a lift. I thought the draw would have been a fair result." Ben Purrington looks set to miss Saturday's match along with Lyle Taylor and Tomer Hemed.
Cottagers heavy favourites to succeed
Fulham and Charlton are locking horns for the first time since the 2015/16 Championship campaign and the Cottagers are protecting a formidable home record against the Addicks that dates way back to 1986. Indeed, the Whites are unbeaten in each of their last 12 Craven Cottage contests with Athletic, nine of which have ended in home victories.
Fulham [1.45] made an indifferent start to life back in the second-tier. Well-tipped for a major assault on immediate promotion, Scott Parker's side were languishing in mid-table before back-to-back wins this week over Wigan (2-0) and Reading (4-1). Even so, the Whites are comfortably perched inside the top-four teams across major performance data metrics.
Charlton [8.20] are just a point worse off than their West London rivals with Lee Bowyer's outfit impressing despite various off-field constraints at The Valley. The Addicks have competed well when facing the current top three teams (W1-D1-L1) in the division, although the visitors have fallen to three losses in their last four fixtures.
Whites can edge capital clash
Tuesday night's convincing victory at Reading was only the fourth occasion in 2019/20 that a Fulham fixture had broken the Over 2.5 Goals [1.70] barrier in Championship action. The Whites have monopolised possession in most matches but only twice plundered more than two goals, and the hosts could find Charlton awkward opponents at the Cottage on Saturday.
Charlton are a resilient bunch, shipping two goals or more just three times since promotion. With six of their most recent seven outings featuring fewer than three goals - and three producing no more than a solitary strike - the Addicks are likely to set-up in a defensive-first system, aiming to frustrate the heavy favourites in front of their home supporters.
With little value to glean from the Match Odds, Handicap or Total Goals markets, it makes sense to head towards Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi market for an alternative option. Here we can back a Fulham triumph alongside Under 4.5 Goals for a very fair price of 1.80. The Cottagers are deserved jollies but look unlikely to cut loose this weekend.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 30.00 pts
Returned: 33.09 pts
P/L: +3.09 pts