Fulham v Brentford | Friday 13th March 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
We have a big Championship game on our hands on Friday night for a number of reasons. This a top-four battle, and both will still hold hopes of possibly gate-crashing the top-two party, making three points vital at Craven Cottage. Furthermore, Fulham versus Brentford is a West London derby, and bragging rights are also at stake.
The Cottagers have been a little up-and down in recent times, but a win here would see them move just three points behind West Brom, before they play again on Saturday at home to rivals Birmingham. Brentford were in a bit of a slump but soon bounced back in emphatic style when despatching Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 at Griffin Park.
Fulham strong at home
Something Scott Parker will be quite pleased with this season is their record at Craven Cottage. Sure, they’ve thrown the odd wobbly result, such as defeats to Reading and Barnsley in 2020 alone, but it is still the best home record in the division. No Championship team has more home wins to their name.
One slight worry however is that Fulham have dropped points at home to West Brom, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City, who, like Brentford, are also involved in the promotion picture. Even away from home, Fulham haven’t won away at Preston, Millwall, Bristol City and Cardiff, whilst also losing away to Brentford in the earlier season meeting. That does offer some concern, knowing they aren’t so strong against the better teams.
Nevertheless, the reality is that this is a must-win encounter for both teams. With a four-point head-start over Brentford, it could be argued this is a more important match for Fulham in the sense of trying to overturn that gap to second spot at least. They will therefore go all-out to win, something they tried to do at Bristol City last Saturday, and were close to completing the late turnaround.
Bees buzzing again
Sheffield Wednesday were probably the perfect opposition for Brentford to have faced last Saturday, and so it proved to be the case. That 5-0 success was not the first team they’ve faced opponents to the sword this season. They’ve netted three or more goals in wins over Bristol City, Millwall, Swansea (twice), Derby, QPR (twice), Middlesbrough, Wigan, Hull, Luton and Barnsley.
So, when they win, it is generally quite convincing. It is however worth noting their record against the top teams in the league, considering we’ve seen how Fulham get on. It is also not great reading for the Bees, especially away from home. Sure, a win at Bristol City and a draw at West Brom, but defeats at Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Preston, Millwall and Blackburn, and all without scoring, is a worry.
Considering the mass offensive talents they have at their disposal, it is no coincidence that they’ve all failed to score in these high-profile clashes. Teams clearly do their homework on them and there is generally a vulnerability about them on the road compared to at Griffin Park, where they so often dictate the game and make the most of the opponent sitting back and inviting pressure. Fulham won’t necessarily do that on Friday.
The betting angles
There are a few different approaches that I quite like in the build-up to this one. Whilst it is a must-win clash for both teams, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a ‘you attack, we attack’ type of match. There has to be a degree of respect shown considering both are ultimately strong Championship teams, especially in attack.
Brentford’s away record and lack of a goals against the top teams is hard to ignore, and Fulham are generally strong at home. Fulham Double Chance and Under 4 Goals at 20/23 (Bet365) on the bet-builder is of consideration.
Another punt comes in the form of the half-time draw. I just really see this as being a slow-burner type of match. It is must-win for both, but this is a 90-minute game, not 45. This match could easily be lost before the break if they were to open up and take big risks. If there are goals to be scored, then it’ll probably come late on. At 13/11 (VBet) it offers decent value.
Another value approach comes in the form of Bobby Reid First Goalscorer at 13/2 (888Sport). He did everything but score against former club Bristol City last time out, and it could be that his time is soon to come again. He is seven without a goal, but he is only second to star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic in terms of shots on goal for Fulham this season, so he is certainly having a go in the final third.