Brighton v Fulham: Cottagers can boost survival bid

Scott Parker
Scott Parker's men will look to close the five-point gap to Brighton

Brighton are winless at home in the Premier League this season and Fulham can add to their woe in Wednesday's relegation battle, says Andy Schooler...

"The Chelsea loanee has been pushed forward in recent games and has subsequently got into some dangerous areas."

Back Ruben Loftus-Cheek to score @ 5/1 (Sportsbook)

Brighton v Fulham
Wednesday 27 January, 19:30
Live on BT Sport 3

Relegation six-pointer

This is a big game, make no mistake.

Five points separate Fulham, inside the relegation zone, and Brighton, just outside it, in the table.

A win for the visitors will give them real hope in their fight against the drop; defeat would leave them with a big gap to close heading into the second half of the season.

Both have struggled for victories so far.

Seagulls winless at home

Brighton recently ended a 10-game run without a win by beating Leeds and they followed that up by edging past Blackpool 2-1 at the Amex Stadium on Saturday, courtesy of a deflected goal.

However, they remain winless in the league on home turf having already failed to beat basement-dwellers Sheffield United, plus drop rivals West Brom and Burnley at their Falmer base.

Click here for Alex Keble's Premier League Tactical Preview

Goalscoring has again been a problem, hence the recent chances for both Percy Tau and Andi Zeqiri. Aaron Connolly is also fit again for this one.

Solidity at the back has also been lacking with boss Graham Potter overloaded with centre-backs.

He's currently shoe-horning Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Dan Burn, Joel Veltman and Ben White into the same XI. It's far from ideal and they have looked vulnerable to pace at times, particularly in wide areas.

Lookman a key man for visitors

The visitors will surely look to the in-form Ademola Lookman to exploit such deficiencies in this game, while Scott Parker may also be tempted to start Aleksandar Mitrovic given Brighton have often been found wanting on aerial balls into the box.

Parker's men have also found goals hard to come by but at least they've tightened up since a ropey start to the season.

Their only win in their last 10 came after extra time at QPR but they've certainly been competitive, keeping a clean sheet in reverse fixture and against Southampton, while restricting Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea to just one goal in each game.

Away from home, the Cottagers are unbeaten in their last three, drawing at Spurs and Newcastle and winning that FA Cup tie at Loftus Road.

Their goal tally may be low but they can't be accused of digging in - they were happy to have a go at Spurs and Manchester United in recent games, and they certainly troubled champions Liverpool.

Fulham look best value

With a result needed here, I'd expect Fulham to try to get on the front foot as much as possible and they look the more tempting of the sides in terms of the match result.

They are 3.8514/5 to win the game with their hosts at 2.166/5 but I prefer the safety of the draw-no-bet market where Fulham cans till be backed at 2.8415/8.

Brighton will need to do something they've done just once in the past 12 months - win a home league game - for a loss to be made and Fulham's recent efforts suggest they can get something here.

I'm not going to put off by Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Burnley - Parker made nine changes for that game but will have his top men back here. All bar Antonee Robinson that is, he remains suspended.

Stats suggest few goals

The stats point towards a low-scoring game.

Eight of Fulham's last 10 games have rewarded backers of under 2.5 goals, while 10 of Brighton's last 17 have also delivered.

That will be more than enough for some to pile into the 1.758/11 on offer, especially after the pair's goalless draw in west London last month.

However, it should also be remembered that Brighton's last home league game was an open affair against Wolves which ended 3-3 and that prices about the unders is a short enough for me.

Loftus-Cheek well positioned to find net

I'm actually tempted by some goalscorer bets to round things off.

With their plethora of tall centre-backs, Brighton are often a threat at set-pieces and Alexis Mac Allister's delivery from such positions is very good.

That brings both Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster into play in the anytime scorer market - the pair are at 9.89/1 and 9.28/1 respectively.

Dunk already has two goals this season. Webster is yet to get off the mark but netted three times last term and has better stats both in terms of shots and shots on target in the current campaign.

However, Fulham haven't conceded with any regularity from set pieces so I'm instead going to turn to Fulham's Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The Chelsea loanee (pictured) has been pushed forward in recent games and has subsequently got into some dangerous areas.

1280 Ruben Loftus Cheek.jpg

He really should have earned his side a point against Man Utd and seems likely to get further chances here.

The prices suggest the one-time England man is still playing in a deep-lying role with the Sportsbook's 5/1 about him scoring at anytime simply too big to ignore.

Opta fact

Both teams have scored in 12 of Brighton's Premier League matches so far this season - no side has had more games with both teams finding the net so far this term.

Click here for more midweek Premier League previews and tips

Andy Schooler's P/L 2020/21

Staked: 52pts
Returned: 39.14pts
P/L: -12.86pts

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