West Brom v Fulham | Tuesday 14th July 2020, 17:00 | Sky Sports
If there is anything on this Earth to define ‘a big game of football’ then West Brom versus Fulham certainly fits into that category! This will be game 44 out of 46 in the regular Championship season for both promotion hopefuls, and there is certainly plenty on the line.
An away point at Ewood Park is never necessarily a bad result, but gaining that outcome meant that West Brom saw their gap in second spot reduced to only three points, and the Baggies certainly can’t rely on relentless Brentford dropping points any time soon. Slaven Bilic’s side are unbeaten in four, including three wins, so they’re still in decent shape and hold the advantage in this mini-race at a crucial time of the season.
Fulham are going great guns themselves, and whilst they’re very much the outsiders in the top two hunt, Scott Parker’s men are playing as good as anyone at the moment, and a run of four straight wins, including the last three without conceding, highlights that.
The Cottagers returned from lockdown with back-to-back defeats to Brentford and Leeds, and you just wonder what might have been if they gained more positive outcomes. Still, they’re in the mix and they simply have to win this to stand a chance of finishing above WBA.
If Brentford weren’t involved in the mix, then West Brom would feasible be happy to take a point from this game. The reality is that Brentford are likely to win all of their last three matches, it would be fair to say this is West Brom’s hardest fixture in their remaining three, so Bilic will look for one massive effort from his troops to really go one step closer to a return to the big time.
The game plan for Parker is likely to be a case whereby they don’t take any huge risks in the early stages. They will have to be wary of falling behind as West Brom remain unbeaten in Championship action all season when scoring first (W16-D7-L0). Only three times haven’t lost in the league when scoring first. Leeds are one, and Fulham are the other, so the Craven Cottage club can manage games themselves, as they’re clearly a threat when netting the opener (W20, D3).
Therefore, the first goal couldn’t be any more important in a match of this nature. Some could argue it is a bit of a coin toss to see who indeed can score first. WBA average 1.72 goals per-game, whilst for Fulham that drops to 1.35. In all relevant statistics it would seem that West Brom do just have the overall general edge, and that is understandable given they’re five points better off.
I do think it is fair that we judge the top four a little bit separately to the rest of the league considering these are essentially playing in a league of their own right now. Therefore, the overall season form in these battles does hold some significance, especially when they meet again on Tuesday.
West Brom are actually winless against Leeds, Brentford and Fulham this season; drawing three and losing twice, whilst all finished Under 2.5 Goals. Now let’s look at Fulham, a home win against Leeds, but then a draw at home to West Brom and losing the other three without scoring in reply. Three of these ended Under 2.5 Goals.
Ten of Fulham’s last 13 matches failed to surpass two goals, and the same applies in seven of West Brom’s past 10. Given this is such a huge game and with plenty on the line, I don’t necessarily think it’ll be the goal fest we assume it will be given these are two talented teams, especially offensively. Both are also in the top five for fewest goals conceded, so they know how to keep the ball out.
Under 2.5 Goals is priced 10/11 (Betfred).
West Brom v Fulham – Under 2.5 Goals (10/11 Betfred)