Fulham have improved but remain in bottom three and face tricky Newcastle test
Newcastle to win 1-0
Newcastle were handed a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of promoted side Leeds in the midweek round of fixtures, continuing their mixed run of form which has prevented them from mounting a top half challenge.
Despite possessing a squad with sprinklings of real quality, the Magpies find it difficult to put in the same levels of performances from game to game, often from half to half in truth.
They have a game in hand due to their fixture against Aston Villa being postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus at their training camp, though in reality are still feeling the effects with up to five players missing from it this weekend.
Fulham’s form has improved for sure, but still find themselves in the relegation zone, largely due to the even better form of Burnley, who have leapfrogged them in recent weeks.
They are a tougher side to play against, but are likely to struggle for the remainder of the season.
Form Guide (all comps): LLWWL
Reasons to be cheerful:
Often look great when in form
Scored six goals in last three matches
Reasons to be fearful:
Always seems one step forward, one back for Newcastle
Up to five players still missing with coronavirus
With the likes of Callum Wilson, Saint-Maximum and Dwight Gayle in their side, Newcastle can often look a real threat when they are in form and play with positivity.
Their recent wins against the likes of West Brom and Crystal Palace show that they should be comfortably safe this season, though will struggle to break into the top half of the league.
Leeds have shown dangerous attacking qualities since joining the Premier League, but for Newcastle to lose 5-2 shows a real weakness when teams are prepared to get at them.
They won’t face that this week against Fulham, but must still show more solidarity in their defending. The positive is that they are scoring plenty of goals – six in their last three matches and should be licking their lips at Fulham’s defensive record too.
Star Man – Callum Wilson
Has been involved in 10 goals in 11 league matches this season, more than in 35 appearances for Bournemouth last season.
Form Guide (all comps): LWLDD
Reasons to be cheerful
Five points from five matches has seen them flirt with 17th place
Results against Leicester and Liverpool will give them confidence
Reasons to be fearful
De Cordova-Reid could miss out with injury
Lost 22 out of last 27 away league matches
Since winning for the first time this season, against West Brom six weeks ago, Fulham have spent more time out of the relegation zone than in, though now find themselves back in trouble after Burnley’s improved form.
That should not discourage Scott Parker and his players, however. They have substantially improved their performance levels of late, as was plain to see in their win over Leicester and draw against champions Liverpool.
The Cottagers have also secured two draws from their last two matches, proving that they have solidified somewhat since those early games of the season.
They will likely be without Bobby De Cordova-Reid, who had scored in three consecutive matches., as he nurses a muscle injury.
Fulham will find it difficult against Newcastle’s pace and power, but on form could stand a chance.
Star Man – Ademola Lookman
Continues to grow in a Fulham shirt and must step up with more goals to help his side rise up the table.
Newcastle will be slight favourites
Fulham must keep the game tight for as long as possible
Should be a tight match
Newcastle will be favourites to win here, of course due to their superior league position, but also the fact that they possess the better attackers.
Callum Wilson is a top striker who could play for many clubs in the league and score goals, whereas Fulham are lacking a forward of the same class – Mitrovic is going through a dry patch of late.
That being said, the longer Fulham can keep the game level, the more Newcastle may start to doubt themselves.
Newcastle to win 1-0