Fulham v Crystal Palace: Hodgson to haunt the Cottage on return

Crystal Palace striker - Christian Benteke
Christian Benteke has plenty to prove at Selhurst Park this season
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The first London derby of the Premier League season sees Crystal Palace make the short trip to Fulham and Paul Robinson is predicting it to prove a fruitful one.

"Bedding in new players can take some time, and that’s why I’m also leaning towards an away win here"

Back Crystal Palace at [3.1]

Fulham v Crystal Palace
Saturday August 11, 15:00

Big spending Fulham looking to make a splash

The Cottagers put a disappointing start behind them last season to finish third behind Wolves and Cardiff, before sealing their promotion in the Play-offs. Slaviša Jokanović hasn't rested on his laurels though and he's signed a number of players during the transfer window.

Aleksandar Mitrović's move from Newcastle was made permanent for a fee of around £22m. The Serb netted a dozen goals in 20 Championship appearances during his loan spell, and the manager appears to be getting more out of him than Rafael Benitez did.

Jokanović has also decided to beef up his defence with Maxime Le Marchand coming in from Nice and Alfie Mawson moving from Swansea. Another Nice player to come to Craven Cottage is Jean Michaël Seri, and he is a highly-rated central midfielder who has 18 caps for Ivory Coast.

Loan signings came in the shape of Andre Schurrle and Callum Chambers, while transfer deadline day also saw new additions to the club, with André Zambo Anguissa being the stand-out. The Marseille midfielder made the switch to London in a deal worth £22.3m.

The jewel in the crown for Fulham has to be Ryan Sessegnon though as the 18yr old English starlet started 48 of their 49 league matches last term and scored 16 goals. He began the year as a full-back before moving to a position higher-up the field - similarly to how Gareth Bale progressed.

Given all that positivity however, enthusiasm could be tempered by the fact that after winning their opening pre-season friendly - 4-2 at Crawley - they have since gone on to lose to Fenerbahce, Lyon and Sampdoria, while being held to draws by Reading and Celta Vigo.

What a difference a year makes for Palace

When Crystal Palace started last season with seven straight defeats and just one win in their first dozen games, you were able to get long odds on them staying in the Premier League. You would have been mad to back them, but those that did were rewarded, as Roy Hodgson not only led them to survival, he got them up to 11th place.

The main man for Palace is Wilfried Zaha and he was actually missing for most of that barren run at the beginning of last season. Hodgson switched the winger into a central striker and Zaha repaid his faith with a nine goal haul - and plenty of creative play to boot.

Keeping their star player will almost make up for the fact that there hasn't been much transfer activity around Selhurst Park this summer. Cheikhou Kouyaté has come in from West Ham for £9.5m, to bolster up the midfield, while Vicente Guaita and Max Meyer have arrived on free transfers - the latter being a bit more exciting than the former. Jordan Ayew of Swansea has joined the club on loan until the end of the season too.

As for on the field matters this summer, Palace have been on a roll with a draw followed by five straight wins - the highlight of which probably being 4-0 and 4-1 wins over Reading and Toulouse respectively.

Visitors the value in this close encounter

The hosts have been inserted as the [2.54] favourites for this match, with an away win at [3.1] and the draw trading at around the [3.45] mark.

That is quite a tight market for a Premier League clash and I can fully understand why, given that Fulham are new to the division and have made some big money signings.

Although I have concerns about their results over the summer, friendly matches aren't to be taken too seriously, and at home last year, they finished the campaign with nine wins and two draws - keeping eight clean sheets in the process.

Obviously that was against Championship opposition though and it's hard to not be seduced by Crystal Palace's stats in their 26 matches following their initial 'dirty dozen'.

A 39 point haul from those 26 outings gave them an average points per game of 1.5, which applied to a 38 match season equates to 57 points - three more than seventh placed, Burnley, got.

Only four of their 11 victories came on the road, but they came at Leicester, Southampton, Huddersfield and Stoke - which is relevant because I would almost group all of those teams together, at a similar kind of level as Fulham.

Bedding in new players can take some time, and that's why I'm also leaning towards an away win here. The Cottagers have a lot more new faces in their ranks than Palace do, so the [3.1] is worth chancing for the more experienced club.

Goals likely at the Cottage

The Betfair layers are finding it hard to split Over/Under 2.5 Goals as the former is available to back at [2.02], with the latter at [1.96].

I have already noted Fulham's resilience at home last season, and only four matches of that 11 game unbeaten streak saw overs backers collect.

The visitors saw their matches average 2.63 goals last term - 17 under and 21 over. It's also worth noting that they scored at least once in 10 of their final 11 away outings - netting 16 goals in total during that period.

Optimism will be high in both teams and I'm hoping that it will result in goals. I'm going to play it slightly safe however and recommend a wager on Both Teams to Score at a slightly reduced [1.8], as that will help restrict the damage on our Palace bet if it finishes 1-1.

Opta also tells us that this fixture has a history of goals as each of the last three meetings between Fulham and Crystal Palace at Craven Cottage has seen exactly four goals scored, with Fulham winning 3-1 in October 2000 and January 2005, before a 2-2 draw in May 2014.

Same Game Multi

Topping the goal charts for Crystal Palace last season wasn't Zaha or Benteke, it was actually midfielder, Luka Milivojević. He scored 10 league goals during the most prolific year of his career, and not all of them were from the spot - although penalty duties help.

He's {4.0] to score anytime on the Sportsbook, but if you combine that with a Palace win and BTTS, it becomes a very attractive [14.25].

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