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Palace and Fulham Square Up in Relegation Battle

| 20.10.2013

These are already pretty desperate times for Crystal Palace in their fight for Premiership survival and it’s not too clever across London at Fulham either. The two sides clash at Selhurst Park tomorrow night both badly in need of a win.

Coral go 6/4 Palace and 9/5 Fulham, but the draw at 9/4 may be the best bet, although it’s a result that won’t really suit either camp.

Everybody expected Palace to struggle after gaining promotion from the Championship via the play-offs last season and manager Ian Holloway was never under any illusions about the task facing his squad.

But he will still have been hoping for a better start than six defeats from the opening seven games, if only to give the team some badly-needed early momentum.before it really gets difficult later in the campaign.

Palace have played well at times, including in the second half at Anfield in their last game a fortnight ago when they refused to roll over after going 3-0 down to Liverpool after 38 minutes.

Dwight Gayle, a late scorer in that game, has been a good signing from Peterborough, but Palace need to string a few decent results together and they need to do it fast if they’re not to become detached with Sunderland at the foot of the table.

Glenn Murray’s return from the serious knee injury he picked up in last May’s play-offs gets ever closer and will be extremely welcome – he has been a prolific scorer in the lower leagues in recent years and has averaged close to a goal every other game for Palace – but when he finally makes it back it might already be a lost cause.

Fulham lie just two places above the Eagles, but expectations at Craven Cottage are higher than just survival, which is why Martin Jol is at a shorter price than Holloway to be the next manager to lose his job.

Again, Fulham have played some decent stuff on occasions and, to put things in perspective, a win tomorrow night would lift them into mid-table.

But the spirited resolve being shown by teams like Cardiff, Hull and Norwich does not bode well for Fulham. Palace and Sunderland may be the two hot favourites for the drop, but there is another place up for grabs, so to speak.

In Darren Bent (6/1 to score first or last, 7/4 at any time), Fulham do have the services of a proven top-level goalscorer and it will be especially galling for Holloway if the former England striker he wanted to sign in the summer hits him where it hurts.

With class acts Scott Parker and Dimitar Berbatov expected to be fit after minor injury setbacks, Fulham would appear to hold most of the cards, but Palace have home advantage and are sure to make a real scrap of it.

Coral make a 1-1 draw 5/1 favourite in their correct score market and that’s an outcome that does have a good ring to it.



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Jon Freeman