ALEX JONES (@AlexJ0nes9) analyses the odds as pre-season favourites Fulham take on Middlesbrough in the Championship on Sunday.
Fulham vs Middlesbrough | Sunday 8th August 2021, 13:30 | Sky Sports
Championship pre-season jollies Fulham kick off their campaign with a tough test against Neil Warnock’s Middlesbrough on Sunday afternoon.
The Cottagers have a new man in the dugout as Marco Silva has been tasked with getting the club an immediate promotion to the topflight.
His chances are vastly improved with the inclusion of Alexsandar Mitrovic in his squad, who netted 26 goals in the second tier in 2019/20. The 26-year-old is a formidable force in the Championship against weaker opposition and started incredibly quickly two seasons ago, scoring five goals in six August matches that campaign.
With the talent stacking up and a manager ready to fully prove himself in the English game, the stars are aligned for Fulham to go well this season.
As for Middlesbrough, they have quietly gone about their summer signings and added quality in crucial positions. Astute customer Sammy Ameobi has returned to the Northeast to play alongside Uche Ikpeazu in attack, whilst Matt Crooks and Joe Lumley are sensible additions.
Sheffield-born Warnock is unlikely to alter his playing style too much this campaign, with the 3-4-1-2 formation again looking likely. Due to this, there is value to be had in the corners market for the away side on what is a tight Craven Cottage pitch.
Boro ranked top of the corners taken chart last season with 276 corners in 46 games, an average of exactly 6 per game. This is, in parts, due to their full backs bombing on and supporting attacks, delivering balls into the box, increasing the propensity for corners.
Another reason for such high flag kick tallies is the long-ball style which they adopt when necessary. Despite losing striker Britt Assombalonga in the summer, the impressive Ikpeazu is also capable of dealing with long punts forward, increasing the likelihood of corner kicks occurring.
The bookies look to be too worried about Boro’s opposition on Sunday for me, and as such there is scope for value bets to be had. Middlesbrough Over 3 Corners and Under 4 Goals in the match comes out the Bet365 Bet Builder at 20/21.
This number of corners is a feat they achieved on 39/46 (85%) occasions last term, a quite remarkable statistic. Adding in under 4 goals is a sensible option, given many opening weekend games are cagey.
We could see three goals in the match here and the bet still win, and as such a price of just under even money is appealing. 39/46 Boro games last term saw Under 4 goals cop, including their first 13 games of the 20/21 campaign.
Another angle of attack comes from the Corner handicap market, where Boro have been handed a +1 start. On paper this looks a phenomenal bet given that it landed in 85% of their games last season. Only 7/46 Boro games saw this wager lose.
Whilst ranking top of the corners for chart, their corners against was also impressive. They finished second (3.93 against per game) in terms of not allowing opposition corner kicks, only behind promoted Brentford.