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Nic Ladds 3rd Jan 2011 - 17:35

Fulham could still be Craven a win at the Cottage

Fulham sit in the drop zone ahead of this clash and Mark Hughes' side need a massive win over their relegation rivals West Brom in this match as three points would actually take them above the fourteenth-placed Baggies on goal difference.

Fulham (6/5) are in a real bad way and their form coming into this match shows just one win in their last ten matches in all competitions. When a side has just two wins from their ten league matches on home turf, you know something is seriously wrong.

They have failed to win five straight matches at Craven Cottage in a run dating back to October. The 1-3 loss there to then bottom club West Ham really showed Fulham for the weak side they are and something has to change, soon.

To compound the misery for Fulham fans, they also lose arguably one of their best players for the next few matches as Mark Schwarzer goes off to the Asian Cup.

They have really struggled for goals with only Clint Dempsey bagging more than two goals all season in the league. Andy Johnson has struggled to get back amongst the goals since his return to action so Dempsey has been the only viable option when looking at first goalscorers; the American is 11/2 here.

Things could be looking up though as Moussa Dembele is expected to make his long-awaited return from an ankle injury that has kept him out for seven weeks. As the striker bagged a couple of goals before the lay-off, fans will be keen to see him back playing.  He can be backed at 6/1 to score first although in case he comes off the bench I would prefer the same price on him to score last.

West Brom (12/5) started the season very impressively and after they beat Fulham 2-1 in October (12/1 for the same scoreline here), they shot up to fourth place. Since then though, they have lost eight out of the next eleven matches and they are dangerously close to the dreaded bottom three at the moment.

They should come into this match with confidence though after their performance against top-of-the-table Manchester United on New Year's Day. They should at least have come away with a point, if not three after Peter Odemwingie missed a penalty when the score was 1-1.

They eventually fell to an inevitable late United winner but there were signs of the West Brom side that started the season so well. They have been leaky at the back on their travels though, conceding one of the highest amount of goals on their travels.

If they can quell a pretty impotent Fulham side for the full 90 minutes and stop them scoring, there is no reason why they can't either come away with a point (the draw is 11/5) or even win the game to nil (4/1).

What is massively important for West Brom is to not lose this match. Not only would that send them further down the table and send their rivals home with a confidence boosting three points, it would be the Baggies' fifth straight defeat and they really have to stop the rot as soon as possible.

On paper, perhaps Fulham do have the better squad but with morale low around Craven Cottage - I really fancy Roberto di Matteo's men to perform a smash and grab win, 1-0 looks good to me at 8/1.

 

 
 
 

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