Fulham are firmly in the middle of what is likely to be a season defining five-game stretch. After a draw with West Ham United, Scott Parker’s team finally addressed their shyness in front of goal at hoodoo ground Goodison Park, with a 2-0 win over Everton that in no way flattered the visitors.
The Cottagers dominated proceedings from start to finish and now have the opportunity to end another jinx when they arrive at Turf Moor for this midweek fixture. Fulham’s misery in the Lancashire town dates back to April 1951. Since then Fulham have managed five draws and succumbed to 25 defeats. But all records are there to be broken.
Burnley for their part are on a run of positive form themselves. Since a humbling 5-0 defeat to Pep Guardiola’s champions elect at the end of November they have taken half of the 42 points available to them. For context, since that date, The Whites have amassed 13 points from the same possible total. Burnley’s run has allowed them build an eight point cushion above Fulham and the relegation zone. Most recently they triumphed over our old friend Roy Hodgson at Selhurst Park with a convincing 3-0 score line. So, in spite of the deserved win at Everton, Parker knows his side face a tough task.
The manner of Sunday’s performance will fill the squad with belief and the fans with hope. On the form demonstrated on Merseyside, The Cottagers will feel they can beat anyone. There are three games left in this current run, before another trip to Liverpool, this time to face the current Champions, followed their likely successors visit Craven Cottage. A win would obviously be the ideal result, but a draw is not the end of the world, providing it is followed up with positive results against Sheffield United and the aforementioned Hodgson’s Palace. Sean Dyche will be wary of allowing Fulham to close the gap on his own team, and a resolute performance is the least that should be expected. Equally, they may see this as the perfect opportunity to kill off any fear of their own relegation by increasing their breathing space to a fairly comfortable eleven points.
A win for Fulham means the great escape is very much on, but I foresee a cagey affair where neither side is willing to lose. A draw doesn’t harm either side irreparably, while a loss could swing the pendulum of momentum heavily, and that could be the biggest influence on both managers’ approaches.
PREDICTION: BURNLEY 0-0 FULHAM
PREFERRED LINE-UP: 4-4-2
HEAD TO HEAD
LEAGUE RECORD (OVERALL)
- GAMES PLAYED – 86
- FULHAM WINS – 30
- DRAWS – 16
- BURNLEY WINS – 40
- GOALS SCORED – 122
- GOALS CONCEDED – 145
LEAGUE RECORD (AWAY)
- GAMES PLAYED – 43
- FULHAM WINS – 5
- DRAWS – 7
- BURNLEY WINS – 31
- GOALS SCORED – 36
- GOALS CONCEDED – 93
BIGGEST WINS AT BURNLEY
- BURNLEY 5-0 FULHAM (1912/13 & 1960/61)
- BURNLEY 5-1 FULHAM (1911/12)
- BURNLEY 4-0 FULHAM (1962/63 & 1964/65)
LAST 5 GAMES
FULHAM 0-3 BURNLEY (FA CUP)
BURNLEY 2-1 FULHAM
FULHAM 4-2 BURNLEY
FULHAM 2-3 BURNLEY
BURNLEY 3-1 FULHAM
- BURNLEY – WDLLW
- FULHAM – WDLDD
COLLINS JOHN’S VIEW
Wow! What a performance from the lads! We broke the Goodison curse in style and were dominant from start to finish. A shoutout to Harrison Reed who gave one of the best individual performances I have seen for a long time watching Fulham, it was the perfect team performance but Reed was everywhere. Josh Maja had the dream start and did exactly what we’ve needed for a long, long time. In the right place to score goals and finish off our excellent build-up play.
The key now is that Parker keeps the lads focused and their feet on the ground. Of course they should feel confident going into the Burnley game, but we don’t want to be arrogant and think the hard work is done. Burnley will provide a different kind of test and certainly won’t allow us as much time on the ball. I’m sure it will be a much better display than our defeat to them in the FA Cup recently and it’s an opportunity to close the gap to just 5 points.
It’s a big game but the Everton performance was so convincing, that I can’t see anything but a Fulham win and another dominant performance. Burnley are well drilled but I can see this turning into attack vs defence with them camped in their own box for 90 minutes. We’ve just got to break them down and if we score first, we will win.
PREDICTION: BURNLEY 0-1 FULHAM
BATTLE TO WATCH
ASHLEY WESTWOOD VS HARRISON REED
Harrison Reed claimed the turf at Goodison Park, almost single-handedly dictating proceedings as Fulham picked up their third win of the season. Burnley will certainly be aware of this, and will almost certainly instruct their own central midfielders to do everything in their power to quell impressive red-heads influence. Ashley Westwood has been ever present in Burnley’s starting XI since matchday 2, only missing nine minutes of Premier League football in that time. He is Burnley’s Mr. Reliable and may be the man tasked with preventing Reed from finding the space to set Fulham on their way to another historic victory.
Reed for his part has shown that simply shutting down his space is not enough, boasting very impressive passing stats. He has a completion rate of 88% across the season when attempting passes under pressure, a figure that ranks him in the top ten in the league and above notable names such as Jordan Henderson. He can expect more attention than usual following his man of the match performance, but all evidence suggests he has the ability to deal with it. If he is able to have the same influence despite the efforts of Westwood and Jack Cork, Fulham could be ending another 70-year hoodoo.
LAST TIME OUT
FULHAM 0-3 BURNLEY (FA CUP – 24/01/21)
Heading into this rearranged fixture as a result of the Covid outbreak at Motspur Park six weeks ago, the only time these two sides have met this season was a fourth round FA Cup tie at Craven Cottage. However, that result will likely hold little relevance to this far more important league match. Both managers opted to use the cup-tie to exercise some squad rotation, Scott Parker more so, and while the likes of Tosin Adarabioyo will be reunited with Jay Rodriguez, he will be partnered by the very capable Joachim Andersen, rather than the somewhat suspect Tim Ream and Michael Hector. Fulham have also added Josh Maja to the ranks since that game, and he will pose James Tarkowski and Kevin Long with a different set of questions than the temporarily departed Aboubakar Kamara.
Burnley ran out 3-0 winners on that day, but it will be a different Fulham side at Turf Moor to the one that failed to compete at Craven Cottage, both in personnel, but also in confidence. The likes of Maja, Alphonse Areola, Kenny Tete, Ola Aina, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Harrison Reed will line up against the Clarets for the first time this season, and with them they will bring the good feeling of a win from their last outing.
PLAYERS IN COMMON
Chris Baird, Kevin Ball, Andy Cole, Mike Conroy, Mark Crossley, Jon Harley, Jimmy Hogan, Alexander Kacaniklic, Gabor Kiraly, Kevin McDonald, Peter Mellor, Gerry Peyton.