Bet of the Day: Fulham to beat Cardiff in the ChampionshipPublished on: August 30, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
The recent histories of Cardiff City and Fulham have been fairly neatly intertwined, with the sides both winning promotion to the Premier League in 2017/18 and both following that by dropping right back to the Championship last season. Tonight, they face off in each side’s sixth match of the campaign, with two points separating the Welsh side in 14th place from Scott Parker’s Cottagers, who currently sit fifth in the table. The Bluebirds have home advantage, and won the corresponding tie last season, but Fulham start this game as favourites, for reasons we will see shortly.
If the Bluebirds do win, they will jump at least temporarily into the top six – the playoff spots, if we can really call them that while there are forty games left in the season. A victory for Fulham will keep them on the heels of Leeds and Swansea, who have both started the campaign excellently. Parker is, at least, doing a pretty decent job so far at delivering stability to a club that looked overwhelmed by the Premier League at all points last season. Below, we’ll analyse the match that awaits us and see what some of the best bets might be.
Chances to come at both ends
Fulham looked marked for relegation from a very early stage in the 2018/19 campaign because they simply could not stop conceding goals. On target at one point to end up with 100 in the Goals Against column, they tightened up slightly, but still ended up with 81, the league’s worst defensive record, and just eight short of Derby County’s hellish 2007/08 season. That has clearly been a focus for Parker, who has tightened things up and, after five games of this campaign, the Cottagers are on 0.8 goals against per game.
Their opponents, meanwhile, have conceded twice as many – those eight goals against including three each at Wigan and Reading, two teams not particularly noted for their firepower. With that said, Cardiff have been better at home, and they’ve won both matches at the Cardiff City Stadium so far – 2-1 victories over Luton and Huddersfield. They’ll have it tougher against Fulham, but should still play a full part in this match, and backing Both Teams To Score at ⅗ with Unibet is a punt worth taking.
Most of the firepower is with Fulham
There were few bright spots for either of these sides as they fell from the top flight last season, but each of them at least had a player or two who looked more than capable at Premier League level. For Cardiff, the standout was Victor Camarasa, a skilful midfielder who created and scored goals in important matches. He’s moved to Crystal Palace, however, and they do look a blunter unit without him. Parker’s side, meanwhile, have kept hold of striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, and he’s demonstrated the wisdom of that move with goals in each of the Cottagers’ last four games. Smart use of the loan system has seen them add Ivan Cavaleiro from Wolves and Anthony Knockaert of Brighton, offering a reliable supply line for the Serbian striker.
Much was made of Mitrovic’s time with Newcastle United, and his lack of goals during his spell in the North-East, but it should be remembered that he played in a Magpies side that focused on defence to the exclusion of front-foot play. With Fulham, Mitrovic gets more chances, puts more away and keeps his confidence high; as such it would be no surprise at all to see him extend his scoring streak to five consecutive matches this evening. As you can get 5/4 with Ladbrokes on him to score in this match, you’d be well-advised to take those odds, given his consistent performance in big games.
Cardiff’s home record to come to an end
Looking at the bare figures, you could be excused for thinking that Cardiff’s 100% home record was a reason to back them this evening. However, the sides that they have faced here aren’t the division’s best. In fact, both Wigan and Luton sit in the bottom third of the table going into this weekend, with a single win between them. Tonight’s match will be a different prospect for the Bluebirds; there are attacking threats throughout the Fulham line-up, and if you stop one, you’re just leaving space for another.
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock has already clarified that this will be his last season as a manager – always a risky gambit, as we saw when Alex Ferguson announced his retirement ahead of time in 2001 and his side immediately started looking shiftless and unmotivated. By the end of this match, we’ll know more about how “up for it” this Cardiff side are, but it’s hard not to predict a win here for Fulham. At 7/5 with Paddy Power, the Cottagers are definitely favourites with the bookmakers, and with good reason.
Bets of the Day
Fulham to win (Paddy Power, 7/5); Aleksandar Mitrovic to score (Ladbrokes, 5/4); Both teams to score (Unibet, ⅗)