Fulham v Sunderland: Hard-to-beat Cottagers to frustrate Black Cats
Fulham entertain Sunderland at Craven Cottage, with the two similar sized clubs holding very different agendas for the rest of the season.
The hosts lie safely inside the top 10 and could continue their good form with an 8/11 offered win over Martin O’Neill’s North-East outfit.
Those odds are quite short for a Fulham victory, but when you assess the direction each team is taking, it becomes clear that the Londoners are streaks ahead of their northern opponents.
The Mohamed Al-Fayed owned club are pushing for a spot in Europe next season, having seen a summer of high-profile arrivals and departures fail to rock their stability this term.
Excluding defeats against title challengers Man United and Man City, Fulham have lost just one other in the league against high-flying West Ham – when Andy Carroll wreaked havoc on his Hammers debut to help inspire a 3-0 victory.
So far this campaign the West Londoners have won four and drawn four in addition to those three defeats, and are unbeaten in their last five.
Last time out Martin Jol’s team were handed a well-deserved point from their trip to the Emirates after a missed stoppage-time penalty from Mikel Arteta left the scoreline at 3-3.
Draws are becoming an unwanted habit for Fulham – with their last three matches ending that way – but with Dimitar Berbatov hitting form wins should start to flow in the months to come.
On the other hand the visitors’ manager O’Neill has spoken about ‘establishing’ the club in the Premier League this season after a rocky start to his second term in charge.
Sunderland are struggling for goals as well as wins, with only one league win achieved so far and seven goals scored from 10 games.
The Black Cats have had to thank late-August signing Steven Fletcher for repeatedly bailing them out when it comes to taking chances, as he has scored six from their seven-goal haul.
Sunderland have picked up the joint-most draws in the league with six, and given Fulham’s tendency to finish games all square, backing the draw could prove an inspired selection at 5/2.
But considering Fulham’s ability to find the net more often – with 11 goals from five matches – a home win appears forthcoming.
A win to nil for the Cottagers is tempting at 9/4, while both teams to score in a Fulham win is good value at 11/4 when you appreciate the hosts have conceded the third-most goals in the division.
Berbatov struck twice last time out and could get on the scoresheet again anytime at 11/10, while few eyebrows would be raised if Fletcher did the same at 9/4.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.