Manchester United vs Fulham | Tuesday 18th May 2021, 18:00 | Sky Sports
Manchester United welcome relegated Fulham to Old Trafford looking to cement a 2nd place finish.
What’s strange is that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have only won 50% of their home games this season, losing 6 and drawing 3. It is their away form that has got them such a high finish.
Fulham travel to Manchester after falling to yet another defeat at the weekend to Southampton, and they will be counting down the days until the season finishes before. You’d imagine, there are wholesale changes in the summer.
Given United’s patchy home form and the fact they don’t even need to win I will swerve the outright and it is the referee appointment I am most interested in.
Referee Lee Mason has been appointed his first Premier League match since 27 February after a shocking error to disallow a legitimate Brighton goal at West Brom.
He has barely officiated in any league since, but we can surmise that his appointment here is down to hopes of a dead rubber feel to the match.
With Fulham relegated and United barely playing for anything, the guys at the top of PGMOL clearly aren’t worried about this being an incident-heavy affair.
And with him in charge there is the propensity for a low card count, with the error-laden official averaging just 1.5 cards-per-game in the Premier League.
He is one of the country’s most lenient officials, giving zero or one card in a PL game in 7/13 games (54%). In all competitions, this total sits at 10/21 (48%) games where no more than one card has been brandished.
Mason has failed to even get his book out in 5/21 games this term, which is just under 25%. All this sets us up for a low card count on paper and the odds on Bet365’s Asian Line is set at 2.5. Under 2.5 Asian total cards can be backed at 19/20 and all things considered is too big.
Fulham have seen this land in 16/36 games, and there only game since relegation was confirmed was against Southampton where only one card was given, which was officiated by the card-happy Craig Pawson.
The 5/2 offering on under 2 cards, meaning there is no booking or just one, also takes strong appeal. As aforementioned, in 7/13 (54%) of Mason’s games this has landed. To get 5/2 is huge value.
Over the season, Fulham have only drawn 2+ cards from their opponents in only 10/36 games, with their opponents picking up 0 cards in 11/36, a total only breached by Burnley, West Brom and Sheffield United.
United opponents have seen exactly 0, 1 or 2 cards in 27/36 games, suggesting Fulham are unlikely to collect 3+ cards.
The league-wide trends lately support a low card count too. In Matchweek 36, 8/20 teams didn’t even pick up a single booking. This epitomises the final stages of this strange PL season, with all three teams already relegated, the title wrapped up and the top four spots unlikely to throw a surprise. I’d be shocked to see a flurry of cards here and couldn’t put anyone off the 9/1 for No Card to be shown.