Fulham must beat Burnley to keep their slim survival hopes alive while the Clarets need a win to secure their Premier League safety. Mike Norman previews the Monday Night Football...
"The reality is I think the Clarets are a better team than Fulham, much more organised, less likely to concede goals, and more likely to score goals. That's never a bad combination."
Fulham v Burnley
Monday 10 May, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Survival hopes fading fast
Fulham's return season in the Premier League has almost been played out in three parts; a very poor start where they lost eight of their opening 11 games and conceded goals for fun; a decent mid-season, losing just four of 17 games that included a memorable win at Anfield; and now the terrible finish to the campaign that is very likely to end in relegation.
You can argue that the Cottagers' downfall was not getting more out of their good run in the middle of the season. Scott Parker's men drew a remarkable 10 games in that 17-match sequence I mention above; they'd be almost on the same points as Burnley if they'd have turned just three or four of those draws into wins.
Another huge downfall has been Fulham's lack of goals. Only Sheffield United (18) have scored fewer league goals than the Cottagers (25) this term, and it's now six months since they scored more than one in a game at Craven Cottage.
Going into Monday night's must-win game against Burnley Parker's men have taken just one point from the last 18 available. They are nine points from safety, yet take three points against the Clarets and they'll be just six points behind with three games to play, so all hope not quite yet lost.
Friday night's surprise win for Newcastle at Leicester however was a big blow to Fulham's slim survival chances.
Poor recent results but performing well
Burnley's league season so far is not too dissimilar to that of Fulham's in that it can be broken down in three parts; a poor start (no wins in seven), then seven wins and four draws in 16 games, and now a relatively poor finish (four defeats in last five games).
The big difference to Fulham of course is the Clarets emerging from a poor start to the campaign a bit quicker, winning more games during their decent spell, and chipping in with a win here and there in recent weeks, like the excellent victories at Everton and Wolves.
It all means that Sean Dyche's men require just one win from their last four games to be almost certain of retaining their Premier League status - win at Fulham on Monday night and they'll definitely be safe, avoid defeat and that is likely to be good enough also.
The one concern going into the game at Craven Cottage perhaps is those four recent defeats, but we could argue that Burnley have performed quite well in those games.
They were 2-0 up at Southampton for example, lost very late in the game at Old Trafford, and they should have snatched a draw against West Ham on Monday night. Before those losses they'd drew with Arsenal and Leicester and beat Everton away from home. And in their last away game Dyche's men were superb in thrashing Wolves 4-0.
Away win looks a cracking bet
Having been on Monday Night Football previewing duties for most of the season I can't really repeat what I said to myself when I saw Fulham v Burnley on the fixture list. It's fair to say I was initially struggling to muster up any enthusiasm.
But I have to admit that was largely because of ignorance on my part. I wrongly assumed that Burnley were already safe, and I had it in my head that Fulham were all but relegated. In other words, I thought I might have to ramble on about a dead rubber game - I avoid those games at all costs - but it's far from that.
Both teams will be going all out for the win here, and I think for that reason Burnley are a cracking bet at 3.55/2 to take the three points.
The reality is I think the Clarets are a better team than Fulham, much more organised, less likely to concede goals, and more likely to score goals. That's never a bad combination.
Their recent results probably don't reflect how well they've been playing, and when you consider that they've scored 12 goals in their last six away games - an average of exactly two per game - and that Fulham haven't scored twice at Craven Cottage for six months now, then I think backing the away win has an outstanding chance of landing.
I'd understand Fulham being favourites at 2.285/4 if they had to beat a team who has nothing to play for, but that's not the case here. The Draw can be backed at 3.55/2.
Back Dwight to have a good night
It's an easy trap to fall into to think that any game featuring Burnley will be a dull, low-scoring affair, and let's be honest, Dyche's men are pretty good at killing a game and winning to nil if they grab the first goal.
But you have to think that this will be a very open game with Fulham simply needing to take all three points, while the Clarets can retain their Premier League status with a win. We should see plenty of shots, and hopefully quite a few goals for the neutral.
If it's a 'Match Shots' bet you're after then Bunley's last five games have witnessed an average of 29.6 shots per match (30, 26, 27, 34 and 31), so it's hard to put anyone off backing 29 Or More Match Shots at 13/5 on the Betfair Sportsbook, but it's a player I'm more interested in, and that man is Dwight McNeil.
The 21-year-old left-sided midfielder has been really impressive of late, scoring in a man of the match performance at Everton and assisting twice in the victory at Wolves. His stats suggest he only averages around one shot per game over the season, but that average increases to around 1.5 shots per game if just considering the second half of the campaign.
McNeil loves to shoot from outside the box too, so in a game that I expect to be quite open, odds of 5/2 about him having two or more shots (that's on or off target) make plenty of appeal.
*You can follow me on Twitter: @MikkyMo73
Mike's 2020/21 Profit & Loss
Staked: 41.00 pts
Returned: 40.31 pts
P/L: -0.69 pts
*Based on 2pts main bet (first listed or only bet), 1pt all other bets
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