Bet of the Day: Fulham to win at Huddersfield in Championship showdownPublished on: August 16, 2019Author: Antonia Kelly
Tonight’s Championship fixture is a game between two sides who last season were in the Premier League – albeit that both looked for the duration of the campaign to be on borrowed time. As Huddersfield and Fulham embark on the third week of their new season, both clubs are targeting a speedy return to the top flight, but will both be acutely aware that it’s something that won’t happen automatically. The promotion race is likely to be every bit as crowded this season as it was last time out, when this season’s favourites Leeds were top of the table for much of the season, but ended up not even making the play-off final.
If either side was under any illusions about the task that lies in front of them, then those were probably shaken out of them by the first weekend of the season – the Terriers were on the wrong end of a home defeat by Derby, while Scott Parker’s first full season as Fulham manager began with a loss at Barnsley. Both sides recovered somewhat to put their first points on the board last weekend – Huddersfield drawing at QPR while the Cottagers registered a first win by downing Blackburn Rovers 2-0.
Due to Huddersfield’s attacking travails, and Fulham’s paper-thin defence, this match last season may have been referred to as “the stoppable force meeting the movable object”, but tonight’s meeting is a chance for both to move beyond the sense of doom that pervaded last season, and start to build a bid for promotion.
Mitrovic to continue fine record for Fulham?
All of last season, while the side leaked goals under each of the three managers to occupy the Craven Cottage dugout, Fulham had a couple of bright spots to place their hopes in. Serbian striker Alexsandar Mitrovic was a constant goal threat, alongside the pace and trickery of winger Ryan Sessegnon. Now, they have Mitrovic and the £25million that Spurs forked over for Sessegnon, but that kitty will at least allow them a mid-season fund for any needed improvements to the squad. In Mitrovic, moreover, they continue to have one of the division’s most reliable goalscorers.
Though the Serbia international drew a blank on the opening day, he was back among the goals against Blackburn. Having spent a frustrating spell at Newcastle, a side that was always set up to defend, he thrives in a team going forward who will get the ball to him regularly, and he will be the biggest danger to the Terriers here. William Hill are offering odds of 9/2 on him to nab the opening goal at the John Smith’s Stadium, and his consistency in the opposition penalty area makes him good value at that price.
Siewert facing renewed questions over his future
After fellow Dortmund graduate David Wagner called an end to his stint at Huddersfield last season, Jan Siewert was swiftly chosen to be the man who replaced him. Siewert’s goal was, and remains, to evolve the way the Terriers play from a tight, defensive setup to a more flowing style. Two games into the season, and his team has two goals in the “For” column – but both have been Karlan Grant penalties. With just one point accumulated, the whispers of discontent within the club over Siewert’s performance have not dampened down – and they’ll at least become murmurs if the team doesn’t get additional points on the board this evening.
The sense of discontent is somewhat multiplied by the condition of the squad at the close of this season’s transfer window. Although it’s common for a relegated side to see some players leave, the departures of club captain Tommy Smith, key midfielder Philip Billing, and defender Mathias Jorgensen haven’t been matched with headline signings. The deadline day loaning away of Aaron Mooy, probably the star player of last season, has not made things better. Absent a couple of spot-kicks, they’ve struggled to find goals – which makes Coral’s odds of 19/20 for “No” on Both Teams To Score seem very tempting.
Cottagers best equipped to get back among the challengers
Seeing Ryan Sessegnon depart was a blow for Fulham fans, but one they had been expecting for some time, while youngster Harvey Elliott’s departure for Liverpool must be softened by the fact that he never really had time to become a fixture at the club. Moreover, Parker has made decent use of the loan market, bringing in Anthony Knockaert, Harry Arter, Ivan Cavaleiro and Bobby Reid, all of whom are proven performers at this level. The side they will field tonight is one custom-designed to win promotion (the fact that it may not be the best approach to stay promoted is another matter).
More importantly for now, Fulham are in shape to compete with any side in the division. Huddersfield’s model has never been to spend wildly, and it may serve them better in the long run than the way the Cottagers have gone about things. For tonight, however, the visitors are the better-equipped of the two to pick up three points. At 5/4 with Unibet, they’re certainly the more inviting bet of the two sides. As long as they can avoid conceding a penalty, they should be well in contention to win this one.
Bets of the Day
Fulham to win (5/4,Unibet); Both Teams To Score “No” (19/20, Coral); Mitrovic to score first (9/2, William Hill)