Fellow strugglers Fulham and Brighton clash in important survival fixture
Fulham to win 1-0
You know that luck is against you when you battle for a hard-earned, well-deserved point against champions Liverpool, and you still end up slipping into the relegation zone as a result.
This was the situation facing Fulham at the weekend, as Burnley’s victory over Arsenal lifted them out of the bottom three at The Cottagers’ expense. Nevertheless, Fulham will have taken confidence from the way they played against Liverpool, leading the match until the 79th minute.
They also have a couple of wins to their name this season, something which they didn’t look capable of throughout the initial weeks of the season. Scott Parker will be pleased with their improvement but will be aware that more is needed.
Brighton are in a similar rut, with just two points separating the two sides. Although their performances have been somewhat better than Fulham’s, they have failed to convert these into results.
This is a huge match for both teams.
Form Guide (all comps): LLWLD
Reasons to be cheerful:
Showed real quality at times against Liverpool
Picked up four points from last three matches
Reasons to be fearful:
Must start converting performances into results
Good work will be undone in they lose
Manager Scott Parker spoke of the disappointment after the Liverpool match of not being able to hold onto victory, something which shows the improvements this Fulham side have made.
Against the odds, they have managed to claim four points from their recent run of fixtures against Leicester, Manchester City and Liverpool and face a slightly kinder schedule throughout the remainder of December.
Parker will be wary of allowing all their good work to go undone, of course – if they were to lose against Brighton, it would represent their 9th defeat in 13 matches.
Fortunately, Brighton’s form is far from special of late and Fulham should be thinking they can claim a much-needed victory here.
Star Man – Bobby De Cordova-Reid
Scored in three consecutive home matches for the first time in his career
Form Guide (all comps): DWDLL
Reasons to be cheerful
Tariq Lamptey could return to the team after hamstring problem
Have shown they possess quality at times this season
Reasons to be fearful
Were completely outclassed against Leicester at the weekend
21 goals conceded is the joint-third highest in the league
Earlier in the season, Brighton were a tough team to play against, one who had a solidity about their midfield, proving hard to beat as Manchester United and Liverpool both found out in their respective fixtures.
Of late, however, The Seagulls have developed a soft side which has seen the number of goals conceded rise to the joint-third highest in the league. They were completely outclassed by Leicester at the weekend, conceding three in the first half.
There have been positives – the introduction of Danny Welbeck has been a clever move and a win from one of their next few fixtures could lift them several places up the table.
However, they must be careful not to get dragged down in a relegation battle, with only two points separating these two sides and Burnley now looking as though they’ll be leapfrogging them sooner rather than later.
Star Man – Leandro Trossard
Is likely to come back into the side after sitting out the defeat to Leicester. His creativity can cause problems.
An important match for both sides to win
Fulham have the better form and could be slight favourites
Likely only one goal to separate them
Although only 12 matches into the season, there are already huge consequences for clashes such as this near the foot of the table.
One win can not only lift a team a place or two higher, it can provide them with a real confidence boost going into the next match.
Fulham’s draw against Liverpool may have a similar effect, but know Brighton will be tough to play against.
Fulham to win 1-0