Relegation-threatened Fulham face Wolves in Friday night's live Premier League action from Craven Cottage. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"The hosts can boast a W2-D7-L1 return against fellow bottom-eight outfits, making the draw a runner"
Fulham v Wolves
Friday April 9, 20:00
Parker critical of Fulham loss
Fulham boss Scott Parker accused his players of not being "streetwise enough" as their relegation fears intensified after a 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa last Sunday. The Cottagers were on course to leapfrog Newcastle when Aleksandar Mitrovic pounced on an error by Tyrone Mings to fire the visitors ahead at Villa Park with the Whites good value for their lead.
However, substitute Trezeguet scored twice as Villa hit three goals in the final 12 minutes to leave Fulham three points from safety having played a game more. Parker said, "At certain moments in the game, you have to understand where you are and what you need and we didn't manage that. It's a young team but we were naive and made silly mistakes."
Only Southampton (18) and Brighton (17) have dropped more points from winning positions in the Premier League this season than Parker's side. And with just seven matches to play, Fulham's schedule still includes encounters with Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, piling the pressure on the Cottagers ahead of Friday night's home fixture.
Wolves fall short on Monday
Since returning to the top-flight, Wolves have often found themselves in the battle for the European places, but a disappointing and inconsistent campaign this time round means that the Old Gold's campaign is spluttering towards a mid-table finish at best. However, Nuno Espirito Santo's side were a touch unfortunate in their 3-2 reverse to West Ham on Monday.
Wolves comfortably won the Expected Goals (xG) count 2.15-1.27 and out-shot the Hammers 20-9 with 15 of the Old Gold's attempts arriving from inside the penalty box. The absence of long-term injury absentee and top goalscorer Raul Jimenez again proved particularly telling in a profligate performance from Wanderers' forwards in the first-half.
Even so, there were some positives for Wolves in the second half, none more so than performance of Fabio Silva. The 18-year-old has only scored three goals this term but his latest off the bench was a reminder of the exciting talent he possesses as he produced a great first touch to control an excellent Pedro Neto pass before finishing clinically.
Fulham have struggled in head-to-head showdowns with Wolves over the past two decades. The Cottagers have managed a measly tally of just three triumphs in 19 league meetings going back to the beginning of 2000/01, and more recently the Whites have managed only W2-D2-L9 against the Old Gold. However, at Craven Cottage the hosts have W3-D3-L3.
Fulham 2.526/4 forced their way back into the survival scrap with a fine upturn in form from December, although four defeats in five has plunged the Cottagers back into the mire. Scott Parker's side have picked up maximum points on only five occasions but the hosts can boast a W2-D7-L1 return against fellow bottom-eight outfits, making the draw 3.002/1 a runner.
Wolves 3.4012/5 were sixth when Raul Jimenez was injured, having earned an average of 1.70 points per-game from their opening 10 outings, scoring in 8/10. Only three clubs have collected fewer points than the Old Gold since with Nuno Espirito Santo's troops posting W4-D6-L9, an average of 0.95 points per-game, firing blanks in 8/19 of those contests.
Fulham have scored a league-low nine home goals in the Premier League this season from 16 outings at Craven Cottage. That, coupled with Wolves' clear and obvious downturn in the offensive third in recent months, has ensured a low goals line ahead of Friday night's fixture with Under 2.5 Goals trading at just 1.574/7. The reverse match-up featured a solitary strike.
Fulham's aforementioned poor home goals return is matched by the Cottagers' reasonable defensive efforts, making Craven Cottage the second-lowest scoring ground in the Premier League (2.00 goals per-game). Only five of Scott Parker's side's last 21 league fixtures have featured three or more goals again putting weight behind a potential drab encounter.
Indeed, six of Wolves' past eight road trips have fallen below the standard goals line and so it may pay to support a low-scoring stalemate with the Draw and Under 2.5 Goals paying 3.309/4 on the Sportsbook. It's already paid out in half of Fulham's 14 clashes with bottom-half sides, as well as three of Wolves' most recent six away days.
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