Fulham vs. West Ham
Venue: Craven Cottage
Kick off: 6:30PM
Fulham will be looking to end the Premier League’s longest current winless streak when they welcome London rivals West Ham United to Craven Cottage this afternoon.
Scott Parker’s men have gone 11 top-flight games without a win, whereas their visitors have won seven of their eight games across all competitions since the turn of the year.
Parker bristled at the suggestion that time is running out for his side in the Premier League relegation battle following their 2-0 loss to high-flying Leicester City on Wednesday night, but the stats look increasingly bleak for the Cottagers.
That defeat to the Foxes, coupled with Brighton & Hove Albion’s shock win at Liverpool, means that the gap to safety is now eight points with 17 games remaining – a steep mountain to climb for a team that has amassed just 14 points from their opening 21 outings.
Fulham’s ongoing 11-match winless run does include seven draws, so points are coming on a fairly regular basis, but they need to start turning some of those draws into wins if they are to close the gap to those above them.
The Cottagers have won a joint league-low two games so far this campaign and 13 of the 15 previous Premier League teams to have had two wins or fewer to their name at this stage of a season have gone on to be relegated – although Fulham themselves were one of the exceptions in 2007-08.
If they are to repeat that rare achievement this season then an improvement is needed sooner rather than later, but given that four of their next six games come against teams currently in the top six, they will need to pull off a few shocks along the way.
Parker’s side have not been completely averse to doing that already this season, with draws against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur and a win away at Leicester, but that will need to happen much more regularly from now on.
Another aspect of their form which will need to significantly improve if they are to escape the drop is their home record, with no team having picked up fewer points or scored fewer goals on their own patch this season.
Wednesday’s defeat to Leicester means that Fulham have now lost their opening four home games of a calendar year for the first time ever as a Football League club, while they have won just one of their last 12 top-flight home games, picking up three points from a possible 36 in that time.
It is therefore not the best time to be welcoming a West Ham side that has won all four of their away outings since the turn of the year, including three Premier League away games on the bounce for the first time since December 2018.
Another triumph at Craven Cottage would make it four in a row for the first time since September 2007 and, given that only four teams have picked up more points on the road throughout the whole season, they will be favourites to do just that.
The Hammers were once again impressive en route to a 3-1 win at Aston Villa on Wednesday night, a result which leaves David Moyes’s side fifth in the Premier League table and only two points off champions Liverpool in fourth.
Indeed, their tally of 38 points from 22 games is their highest at this stage of a top-flight season since 1985-86, when they went on to finish in third place.
The prospect of a European spot is still very much a realistic one, then, and they can strengthen their case with two of the bottom three to come in their next two league games.
West Ham’s record in away London derbies is not particularly good, with last month’s win at Crystal Palace ending a run of six such games without a win, including five defeats, but it still outstrips Fulham’s record in capital battles.
The Cottagers are winless in their last 19 top-flight London derbies, taking two points from a possible 57 in that time including three successive defeats to West Ham, while they have conceded in each of their last 28 such matches.
Fulham possible XI: Areola, Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Tete, Loftus-Cheek, Reed, Anguissa, Robinson, Maja, Lookman.
West Ham possible XI: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen, Lingard, Fornals, Antonio.