A philosophical question: What happens when the extremely stoppable force meets the incredibly movable object? We’ll know the answer shortly before 10pm on Bonfire Night as Huddersfield’s powder-puff attack comes up against Fulham’s “conceding four goals to Cardiff” defence. These sides seem, even at this early stage of the season, to be such obvious candidates for relegation that it would make sense to not play this game and just award them both no points.
The form book indicates that the teams have each taken a single point from their last five games – the Terriers snatching a point in a 1-1 draw at Burnley while the Cottagers managed the same result at home to Watford in September. In a league that also contains Cardiff and Newcastle, and with only three teams getting relegated, at least one dismal side will survive the season – so three points here could make all the difference to either side.
Huddersfield vs Fulham Prediction: Huddersfield 1-1 Fulham
It won’t surprise anyone to learn that Fulham have yet to keep a single clean sheet this season. A defence that seems at times to have been cobbled together from any four living human beings Slavisa Jokanovic could find, they’ve conceded three to Everton and to Bournemouth, five to Arsenal, and as we’ve noted, four to Cardiff. Yes, Cardiff.
Huddersfield, for their part, do not have a single player who has scored more than once this season. We think they’ll get one here, when they decide whose turn it is to score it, but that will be about it for the night. Fulham have Alexander Mitrovic, who is a talented striker, and may well be their saving grace here.
Our recommended tip: Under 2.5 goals
Rarely have two sides less equipped for the division come together for a Premier League match, but at least Huddersfield have the excuse of the lowest wage bill in the division. Fulham spent over £100million on new signings in the summer, and we hope they kept the receipts. The Cottagers do their best work going forward – which is not the compliment it may sound like, as they’ve scored just three in their last five games. Betfred have ⅘ (1.80) that this game will feature two goals or fewer, which seems a safe bet.
Most recently, these sides’ head-to-head in the 2016/17 season went heavily in Fulham’s favour, which won’t have comforted them greatly as it was the Terriers who would eventually be promoted that season. The Cottagers won 4-1 in their away game, after Huddersfield had taken a fourth-minute lead. At Craven Cottage, the win was even more emphatic, a 5-0 thrashing inspired by Scotland striker Chris Martin, who scored twice. Both sides have refreshed their squads since then, although names like Aaron Mooy and Chris Lowe remain for the hosts, and Ryan Sessegnon and Stefan Johansen still play a big part for the visitors.
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Players to watch: Aaron Mooy & Alfie Mawson
If Huddersfield are to stay in the Premier League this season, the goals that keep them there will be scored by, or pass through, Mooy. The Australian international was a huge part of the Terriers’ excellent opening to last season – the last sustained period of good form the side had, in all truth – and his ability on the ball sets him apart among a side whose battling qualities and teamwork have been almost all the Terriers have had to offer.
Mawson is a conundrum. A lone shining star among the Swansea side that dropped from the Premiership like a stone last season, he made his England debut and was earmarked as a star of the future. He then moved to Fulham, and has been unable to prevent them conceding goals at a rate of nearly three per game this season. However, if they are to start defending like a side who belongs at the top level, it will start with this composed, ball-playing centre back.