Felix Magath miracle is on for Fulham against cagey Canaries
Norwich City, 5/4 to be relegated, have failed to win all of their last 15 against Fulham (odds-on for the drop at 2/5) in all competitions. It’s fair to say the west London outfit are the Canaries’ bogey team then.
The clichés continue as this really is the mother of six-pointers. Hosts Fulham have the second-worst home Premier League record this term, while Norwich not only have to cope with knowing their last win at Craven Cottage came back in 1986, but just Cardiff have picked up fewer points away than them.
Managerial newcomers in England, Felix Magath and Neil Adams, meet here, with Fulham’s German gaffer favourite to mastermind victory at 23/20. It’s 5/2 on a draw, and the Canaries are 9/4 outsiders – rightly so on history alone.
Sacking Chris Hughton with just five games to go smacks of trying to close the stable door after perpetual strugglers Norwich have bolted. The Canaries had multiple opportunities prior to this late juncture when it would have been equally permissible to axe him.
Hughton’s replacement Adams has no experience of being a senior coach, and is pitting his wits against a multiple Bundesliga winning boss, and a man who played in a World Cup final, in Magath. The coaching gulf could not be any wider.
What have Norwich got to lose though? Victory looks so unlikely, and Fulham could close to two points behind them ahead of a nightmare run-in for the East Anglia outfit. Steve Sidwell, top scorer for the hosts, has four goals against the Canaries – all in wins – on his CV. Back him to break forward from midfield here and find the target at 5/1.
Striker Darren Bent is eligible once again for Fulham, and has netted five in nine – again all in four victories – when he previously faced Norwich. Odds of 7/4 say he will score, despite being used sparingly by Magath, as a run-out looks likely because Kostas Mitroglou continues to lack fitness.
Adams has some good news ahead of this one, though. Defender Michael Turner and midfielder Leroy Fer have both recovered from hamstring problems, so could return to the XI. Fulham may include defender Dan Burn and veteran anchors Giorgos Karagounis and Scott Parker in the engine room.
Two more teams that meet next to one another in the table are Crystal Palace and Aston Villa. Neither side looks in real danger, but they are locked together on 34 points.
Villa last won at Selhurst Park in 1980 and do battle with an Eagles team that has the second-best home record in the bottom half. Only Hull have picked up more points on their own turf than Tony Pulis’ Palace, who start as 21/20 favourites after back-to-back victories to go within one more win of assuring safety.
Paul Lambert, meanwhile, is in charge of a Jekyll and Hyde side, so punters can seldom be sure of what to expect from them. Odds of 14/5 say Villa will turn up, following three straight defeats, and take three points. It’s 11/5 for a draw.
Grant Holt and Gabriel Agbonlahor have got goals against the Eagles in their very different career. Villa stalwart Agbonlahor is 2/1 to net anytime from a likely wide berth. Battering ram journeyman Holt, meanwhile, scored in his last outing and is 7/4 to do so again here.
Marouane Chamakh may be the man to sink Villa for hosts Palace. Dwight Gayle, who hit the winner in the reverse fixture, has bafflingly been deemed unready to return, despite a five-goal haul for the Under-21s in midweek.
Sinewy Moroccan Chamakh looks a better bet than Cameron Jerome here, because he has scored against this opposition before. Odds of 6/4 say either Eagles frontman will get a goal.
Barry Bannan could feature against his former club, and he is a tempting price at 11/2 to net against Villa. Punters must be prepared to be positive when betting on the Premier League’s bottom half. Wins for London pair Fulham and Palace look nailed on.