Fulham vs. Crystal Palace
Venue: Craven Cottage
Kick off: 3PM
Fulham welcome Crystal Palace and former manager Roy Hodgson back to Craven Cottage this afternoon in a Premier League London derby.
Hodgson returns with his Palace side having picked up seven points from their five games so far, whereas Scott Parker – more than 33 years his opposite number’s junior – is looking to lift Fulham off the foot of the table.
Hodgson’s return to Craven Cottage will no doubt evoke memories of some golden times during his spell as Fulham boss, when European football rather than relegation battles graced the West Londoners.
The Premier League’s oldest ever manager is now aiming to perform similar heroics with another London club, although both teams come into this match in growing need of a victory.
There is no doubt that the need is more urgent for Fulham; they picked up their first point of the season at Sheffield United last time out, taking the lead for the first time since their promotion back to the big time before being pegged back by Billy Sharp’s late penalty.
It was a day to forget for Aleksandar Mitrovic, who missed a penalty of his own, conceded Sheffield United’s and squandered a very good late chance for all three points, and he has reason to dread Saturday’s match too having lost all 11 previous London derbies in which he has played.
Indeed, Fulham as a club have lost a record 11 top-flight London derbies on the bounce heading into this match, with that poor run extending further to 20 defeats in their last 23 meetings with fellow capital sides.
Two of those three games in which they avoided defeat have been against Palace, but if they are to get something from the Eagles again this time around then various improvements will be needed – not least their home form.
Back-to-back 3-0 Premier League defeats at Craven Cottage, coupled with the final home game of their last spell in the division, mean that they have lost their last three top-flight outings on their own turf by an aggregate score of 10-0, and they could become the first team in top-flight history to lose four consecutive home games by three or more goals.
That makes for an intriguing battle against a misfiring Crystal Palace attack which has failed to score in six of their last seven away games in all competitions.
For Fulham it may be their best chance of keeping a home clean sheet, whereas for Palace they could not wish for a better opportunity to improve upon their away drought.
The exception in that away run bizarrely came at Old Trafford as Palace ran out 3-1 winners over Manchester United last month, but those are their only points on the road from the last 18 available.
Home or away, Hodgson’s side are winless since that memorable Old Trafford triumph, losing to Everton and Chelsea before eking out a draw in the derby against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend.
Wilfried Zaha’s penalty in that match was their sixth goal from only 10 shots on target this season, and appeared to be enough to have earned all three points until Alexis Mac Allister struck a deserved late equaliser for the Seagulls.
Palace had a notoriously miserly attacking record last season and, while their conversion rate is impressive so far this term, Hodgson will know that his side need to start having more shots on target and recent evidence suggests that Fulham should gift them plenty of opportunities for that.
A first Premier League clean sheet since the opening day of the campaign would also be welcome for the visitors, who have only prevented their opposition from scoring twice in their last 28 top-flight London derbies.
As it happens, both of those clean sheets came against Fulham in the 2018-19 campaign as Palace won 2-0 home and away.
Another victory on Saturday would make it three successive league wins for Palace over Fulham for the first time in 90 years, and more importantly would edge Hodgson’s former club deeper into trouble at the bottom of the table.
Fulham possible XI: Areola, Aina, Adarabioyo, Ream, Cavaleiro, Cairney, Anguissa, Robinson, Loftus-Cheek, Mitrovic, Lookman.
Crystal Palace possible XI: Guaita, Ward, Kouyate, Sakho, Mitchell, Townsend, Riedewald, McArthur, Eze, Batshuayi, Zaha.