Fulham v Newcastle: Cottagers to take advantage of depleted Toon
Newcastle have been the surprise package of the Premier League season so far, sitting pretty in sixth place and astonishing pundits and fans alike in their pursuit of a European slot.
January and February will be a true test of their resolve however, with top scorer Demba Ba away at the African Nations Cup, and new £10m signing Papiss Demba Cisse unable to make his debut under the same circumstances.
Bearing this in mind, the 13/5 Magpies could struggle to overcome their next test at Craven Cottage.
They boast one of the league’s finest away records this campaign, but face a Fulham side that has achieved respectable Premier League finishes almost solely on home form in recent seasons, and Martin Jol’s men look good to capitalise on Newcastle’s weakened line up at 21/20.
Only Aston Villa have drawn more games than the Londoners this season though, and that statistic may encourage punters to back the draw this weekend at 23/10 in the Premier League odds.
What has perhaps been most impressive about Newcastle’s surge up the table has been that they have managed to achieve it by playing attractive, grounded football, channelled through impressive signing Yohan Cabaye.
The Frenchman is set to miss out through injury though, and with Steven Taylor ruled out until the end of the season also, the Toon Army could collapse against a robust and physical Fulham side.
Fulham can squeeze past the travellers, with a 2-1 home win looking a likely scoreline at a generous 7/1.
Their powerful and aggressive strikers Bobby Zamora and Clint Dempsey will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a weakened defence, and both are priced at 5/1 to hit the first or final goal of the game.
American Dempsey has four goals in his last five, and as a shoe-in to complete the 90 minutes bar injury, it could be wise to back Zamora to score first and Dempsey to strike last in the game.