Fellow strugglers Sheffield United and Fulham meet in battle at the bottom
Sheffield United to win 2-0
The positive thing for these sides is that at least one of them will come away having earned their first points of the season, in what have been disappointing starts so far.
Fulham, promoted last season, were thought of as relegation favourites right from the start, whereas Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United impressed last season and finished mid-table.
Regardless, both have been poor and find themselves in 19th and 20th positions respectively, with major improvements required even at this early stage of the campaign.
In terms of the managers, they’re at the opposite ends of the experience spectrum – 19 years for Wilder vs. barely 18 months for Fulham’s Scott Parker. One is battling to show he still has the skills required, with the other desperate to prove he’s ready for this level.
At home, Sheffield United will be favourites, especially with Wilder’s experience, but Fulham will be desperate to stamp their mark on the Premier League.
Form Guide (all comps): LLLLL
Reasons to be cheerful:
Showed signs of improvement against Arsenal
Won their previous three matches against Fulham
Reasons to be fearful:
Have looked a shadow of themselves vs. last season
Just one goal scored in the league so far
United managed to add one or two decent signings to their squad at the end of the transfer window, and these fresh faces in the dressing room may provide the added motivation they need to kickstart their season.
Rhian Brewster arrives from Liverpool and the youngster is some quality to add upfront where they are badly lacking goals. David McGoldrick, who scored their one and only goal of the season against Arsenal, picked up a knock during International duty so could miss out.
Young players can often add a spark to a team, particularly in attacking areas, and Chris Wilder will be hoping this is the case by bringing in Brewster. Fulham have the second-worst defence in the league, after all.
United have been reasonably solid at the back so far, and if they can spring to life in Fulham’s penalty area, they could leave with three points
Star Man – Rhian Brewster
Could go straight into the starting XI – the 20 year old’s energy could be a big boost for United this weekend.
Form Guide (all comps): LWLLL
Reasons to be cheerful
Deadline day signings will boost squad
Have been better in front of goal than their opponents
Reasons to be fearful
Performances so far have been awful
11 goals conceded is second-worst in the league
Fulham know that they are in an almighty battle to avoid relegation this season, even after only four matches of it have been played.
Currently, they do not look capable of stringing together enough good performances, let alone points, to climb above the relegation spaces into safety. There is a long way to go this season, but if they next four games go the same way as the first, the writing could be on the wall for manager Scott Parker.
Unlike their opponents, they have actually managed to win games this season, albeit in the Carabao Cup against lesser sides Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday.
Main striker Mitrovic has a taste of goal and he will need to be at his sharpest to help Fulham out of a sticky situation.
New arrival on loan, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, will create much needed energy in midfield.
Star Man – Ruben Loftus-Cheek
A good player to bring in on loan from Chelsea, he should add drive and quality from midfield
A closely fought game with few chances
Sheffield United will be eager to test Fulham’s shaky defence
20 year-old Rhian Brewster could get on the scoresheet
Chris Wilder will have welcomed the International break, giving his side extra time to prepare for this one.
They showed signs of improvement in the 2-1 defeat against Arsenal and they will find a defence in Fulham’s no where need as solid as The Gunners’.
That being said, Sheffield United must improve their chance creation if they are to walk away with three points here. Fulham can cause them problems and are desperate to avoid yet another defeat this season.
Sheffield United are favourites and could just edge this one.
Sheffield United to win 2-0