Nuno’s Wolves travel to Craven Cottage later today where they face Claudio Ranieri’s Fulham. As it stands, Fulham sit bottom of the table, however, Wolves have faced sides in similar predicaments before, Cardiff and Huddersfield and ended up on the losing side. Wolves, who have won three out of their last four, will be slight favourites for the encounter.
Fulham, who finally picked up their maiden clean sheet against Newcastle, could do with a positive result as they’ve got Huddersfield next. If they get a win and a draw from the next two, Fulham will be looking at the table in a better light.
Before we begin, I just want to chuck a slight disclaimer in. This preview won’t be as detailed as the ones that have come prior to it for one reason and one reason only. It’s a hectic time of year and the time of day simply doesn’t allow it. If you’re after a streamlined preview, look no further!
The Whites concede on average 2.25 goals per game at Craven Cottage, although they do supplement that with 1.25 goals scored. So, looking at the averages, there is going to be 3.5 goals later today. Their last three home games have all been games that you could draw comparisons from.
They beat Southampton 3-2, drew 1-1 with Leicester and lost 2-0 to West Ham. Ranieri’s side missed four big chances spread over those three games and if they want to stay in the Premier League, they need to improve in front of goal.
Against the flow
Ranieri’s first game in charge of Fulham was the aforementioned five-goal thriller against Southampton. To this day, that remains his only win in charge. In a rather strange turn of events, Ranieri’s side have performed better in each home game at Craven Cottage, yet the results have got worse. What we’ll do now is look at the attack momentum graphs from SofaScore and see what, if any, patterns emerge. Starting with Southampton…
First things first, you have to really wonder how Southampton found themselves on the losing side. Fulham seemingly started well and had sporadic spells in the first half before being placed on the back foot in the second. Admittedly, Fulham were defending a narrow lead for the final 27 minutes, so maybe that should be taken into consideration as well. Onto Leicester at home…
Interestingly, Fulham were defending a lead in this game as well, yet they’ve got more momentum at the start of the second half. After a small burst of pressure from Leicester, Fulham turn it on again. When Leicester eventually equalise, see the longest part of the blue graph in the second half, only one team really looks like they are going to win it from there. What does this tell us? Fulham are maybe more reactive than proactive as although they were pressurising Leicester’s defence, their best spell in the second half didn’t come until after Leicester equalised.
Reactive once more
Fulham completed over 100 passes more than West Ham in this match. Yet, their most sustained, quality pressure came once West Ham had already scored twice. So, while Fulham have got problems defensively (they’ve conceded the most in the division), it seems they’re also slow to get going and almost need to go a goal down to get going.
For Wolves, if they can get an early goal as Southampton and West Ham did, it will open up the game beautifully for Nuno’s counter-attacking style of play.
Speaking of Wolves, they’ve got somewhat of a score to settle at Craven Cottage after Fulham beat Wolves 2-0 last February. Mitrovic bullied Conor Coady on that day and it’ll be an intriguing match-up again. Will Coady have learnt his lesson? Will Mitrovic score? All questions that will be answered at the end of the game.
Both Wolves and Fulham aren’t where they should be in the league table, according to xG. Infogol’s graphic shows the expected place for each side in the division alongside their current and forecast position. Take a look.
Fulham are only one place below their expected place thus far, but Wolves are five places below, which is the worst in the league. That’s right, Wolves should be fifth according to the wonder of xG. What you’ll also be able to notice is that Wolves’ forecast position is seventh, whereas today’s hosts are currently forecast to finish one spot above the relegation zone in 17th. Insightful.
Nothing new for Wolves. The only question mark is around the fitness of Diogo Jota. If he’s fit and starts, he’ll score. There, I’ve said it.
Fulham should be able to welcome back Ryan Sessegnon to the fold after missing a couple of games with an injury. Away from Sessegnon, it’s business as usual for Ranieri’s side.
Although memories of the recent Cardiff game ring true, if Wolves score first, they should win. They threw away a goal lead in South Wales, but I’m not sure Fulham will be able to turn the game on its head in such a way that Cardiff did.
As we’ve seen, there has been an average of 3.5 goals in Fulham’s home games this season but with Wolves’ away games yielding 1.875 goals per game, something will have to give. 2-0 to Wolves? Go on then.
Until the next time.
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