The fat lady has been waiting for her cue for some time now and tonight could be the time when she finally lets loose.
Fulham have been staring down the barrel for months and it is very much do-or-die in Monday’s clash with Burnley at Craven Cottage with Scott Parker’s men nine points from safety with just four games to go.
Burnley are of course the side closest to the Cottagers in the table so the equation is simple for the hosts – win and survival is still possible.
A draw wouldn’t be the mathematical end to Fulham’s relegation battle but it would leave them nine points behind three teams with just three games to go, and needing a hefty run of results to go in their favour.
No Home Comforts for Fulham
It is difficult to see this race lasting much longer because, despite a perceived upturn in performances and form, results have not been forthcoming, particularly at home.
Parker’s men are the second lowest scorers in the Premier League with just 25 goals from 34 games, but only nine of those have been scored at the Cottage, where Fulham have won just twice all season, only beating the two sides already relegated – Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion.
Since picking up a point in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool, Fulham have failed to score in nine of 12 home matches, scoring just three goals in that run, with their better form having come on the road.
Burnley’s form has been somewhat erratic and they are hardly in the best nick going into this clash, having won just one of their last five games.
However, that does offer something of a formline as that victory was a 4-0 success at Wolves, who recently won 1-0 at Fulham.
The Clarets have been picking up some crucial victories on the road since the turn of the year, having also won at Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Everton, while they enjoyed a 3-0 romp at the Cottage in the FA Cup back in January.
Another road win for Sean Dyche’s men certainly offers value at
9/4, but there are temptations for a higher return with Burnley to win and under 2.5 goals available at
11/2, while an away victory to zero is
Foxes Can Get Top-Four Bid Back on Track
There is no getting away from the fact that the fixture list rescheduling has not been kind to Manchester United, although where blame can be attributed is open to question.
The Red Devils travelled to Italy last Thursday and to Aston Villa only on Sunday before they host the Foxes on Tuesday night, while they have the small matter of facing arch rivals Liverpool just two days later.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men are enjoying a 14-match unbeaten streak in the Premier League but that will be put to the test against Brendan Rodgers’ side, who are unlikely to be distracted by the impending FA Cup final as they are desperate for points to secure a top-four finish.
The Foxes have hit a slump at just the wrong time, failing to beat 10-man Southampton before suffering a surprise 4-2 home defeat to Newcastle on Friday.
However, they have had more time to prepare for this clash, have the confidence from a 3-1 win over United in the FA Cup and are sure to be facing a much-changed line-up.
On another day, the price may well have been bigger but in these circumstances, a Leicester win at
39/20 should still not be sniffed at.
Eagles Can Land a Gamble
Southampton have been creeping towards the finish line and still haven’t quite guaranteed their top-flight status yet, but it is only a matter of time as it will take just one Fulham slip.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have been in alarming form since a 1-0 win over Liverpool at the start of the year, losing 13 of 17 games in the Premier League while winning and drawing two.
It is not hard to see why they are flirting above the relegation zone but even though there has been a semblance of recovery of late – holding Leicester to a 1-1 draw despite having a man sent off after 10 minutes – the price looks too short given their wretched run.
Crystal Palace are hardly in a rich vein but they do at least go into this on the back of a win, their 2-0 success at Sheffield United last time out guaranteeing their place in the Premier League.
That was a first victory in five games but there is more value in backing the
49/20 about an away win, than the
11/10 on a Saints victory, particularly as the Eagles have already won six times on the road and took the reverse fixture 1-0.
*All odds correct at time of writing