BETTING analyst Adam Wallis (@SharpSignals) shares his verdict on Saturday's early kick-off from Craven Cottage as Fulham entertain Manchester United.
Fulham v Manchester United | Saturday 9th February 2019, 12:30 | Sky Sports
Make no doubt about it, Fulham are in major trouble. Sitting seven points off safety, the Cottagers goal difference of -30 is far worse than fellow strugglers and now the capital club have to host a reborn Manchester United that are on the hunt for fourth spot.
Time running out
With just 13 fixtures left in the Premier League, Fulham still have to host Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Saturday’s visitors Manchester United. Getting enough points to survive is going to prove extremely difficult at this stage.
Fulham sit on 17 points and 15 of those have arrived at home. The closet the Cottagers have come to beating a Big Six team was against Tottenham here when losing 2-1 – all other matches against the big guns have seen the hosts lose by at least a two-goal margin. Fulham have conceded at least two goals in their last five Premier League games also, as well as 19 of 25 overall.
If you are into your head-to-head stats then Manchester United have won eight of their last nine against Fulham in all competitions – seven of which saw the Red Devils enjoy Half-Time/Full-Time supremacy.
The red side of Manchester just needed a baby-faced assassin to come and hold their hand. Since taking over from Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won nine out of 10 games in all competitions, drawing the other.
The real test lies over the next few weeks as the fixtures pile up with the Champions League returning and a Last 16 tie against PSG, sandwiched in between an FA Cup fixture with Chelsea, and then three games in seven days including when rivals Liverpool visit to Old Trafford.
The interim boss is going to want to let some of his superstars rest so they will be looking to try and put this game to bed early, in my opinion, with goals on the cards.
Untied only have two injury doubts with Marcos Rojo coming back this week to train with the first team, though he’s unlikely to be risked, elsewhere, Chris Smalling is close to returning but again appears unlikely to feature.
Fulham may have the second worst goal difference in the Premier League but they don’t have the worst Expected Goals difference (xGDiff) – that crown goes to Burnley on -0.95 per-game, with the Cottagers sitting on -0.63 – this is broken down to 1.17 xG for and 1.76 xG against per-90 minutes.
Manchester United have been sneaking up the league under the cloud left by Mourinho’s Range Rover; with the title race heating up, all eyes have been on the top. United have the league’s fourth best xG figure with an xG difference of 0.57 broken down to 1.81 for and 1.27 against.
Using the above, Solskjaer’s team enjoy a 1.17 xG advantage and expected total goals metric of 2.94, which is good enough to see Over 2.5 Goals.
I really think the bookies are being generous with the Asian Handicap line in setting it around the 1.0 mark, considering they have the goal line set at 3.0. there are therefore plenty of options to take advantage of such as my preferred three plays: