Why we’re tipping Fulham for promotion to the Prem this season
While Wolverhampton Wanderers are all-but-certain of promotion from the Championship, the other two places in the top-flight are up for grabs.
Only nine points separate Derby County in second from seventh-placed Preston North End.
A quick glance suggests it’s something of a lottery as to who joins Wolves in the Premier League next term. But a closer look suggests Fulham are the value bet. Here’s why….
Play-off experience and promotion pedigree
Of the nine sides beaten in the Championship play-offs from 2013-16, four have since made their way into the Premier League. That’s a sure sign that even the experience of losing out can offer valuable experience for the following attempt.
They also have the added boost of a manager who knows how to win promotion from this level. Boss Slavisa Jokanovic secured automatic promotion as Watford boss in 2014-15.
And having also won two top-flight titles as a manager in Serbia, he’s no stranger to delivering success at the business end of the season.
They’re hitting form while rivals struggle
No side can match the Cottagers for form in the post-Christmas period. Jokanovic’s side have really clicked into gear, winning six and drawing one of their seven league games.
And they’re not just beating sides, they’re demolishing them.
Their recent 6-0 defeat of Burton Albion was the Brewers’ joint-heaviest defeat of their Football League era. Meanwhile, Fulham’s 4-1 victory over Ipswich Town was the first time the Tractor Boys had shipped four or more goals in a game since 2015.
That run is in stark contrast to many of the sides around them. Derby are faltering, having won just three of their last seven.
Meanwhile, Bristol City have collapsed – with just one victory in nine across all competitions.
They’ve got a system that’s clicking
The West London club’s recent success has been due in part to finding a tactical set-up which suits them ideally. And that suggests they can continue the current winning streak.
Jovanovic has hit on a 4-3-2-1 system which perfectly balances the solid midfield pairing of Oliver Norwood and Kevin McDonald with the creativity and pace of guys like Lucas Piazon and Stefan Johansen.
Add the fact that Tomas Kalas and Tim Ream are building one of the league’s strongest centre-back pairings, and this looks set to be the Cottagers’ year.
Fulham are 3/1 for promotion this season, and they can take another step towards that goal on Saturday.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing