Palace, Fulham and Sunderland desperate for home points
A change of manager appears to have provided fresh momentum to first Crystal Palace, then Sunderland and now Fulham, but fans of all three struggling clubs must be worried what will happen when the novelty value wears off.
Coral still rate these three as the most likely to drop out of the Premier League next May – 1/3 Palace, 8/13 Sunderland, 11/10 Fulham.
Under Tony Pulis, Palace have gone on a run that has taken them off bottom spot and within a point moving out of the relegation zone, while Gus Poyet’s appointment at Sunderland has brought about some improved performances. It’s too soon to talk about Rene Meulensteen’s impact at Craven Cottage, but early signs are encouraging.
The fact remains, however, that they still occupy the bottom three places in the Premiership and unless the improved spirit translates into points, the threat of demotion from the lucrative big league will continue to give everybody involved nightmares.
Good home form is always considered paramount in a relegation battle and all three teams are in front of their own fans this Saturday with wildly varying prospects of success.
Sunderland (evens), fresh from their shock win over Chelsea in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, entertain Norwich (14/5) at the Stadium of Light. The Black Cats will be high on confidence, but perhaps low on energy after a gruelling two-hour battle and the draw (23/10) might be the most likely outcome.
Palace (2/1) play Newcastle (7/5) at Selhurst Park and, solid though they have been in recent weeks, this looks a difficult assignment against a side playing their best football for two seasons.
Fulham (7/1) face the toughest task of all as they attempt to stem the flow of goals from hot title favourites Manchester City (4/11). Even without Sergio Aguero, City surely won’t endure another slip-up on the road against such ordinary opposition so soon after putting a combined total of nine goals past Bayern Munich and Arsenal.
West Ham (8/1) added to Spurs woe when knocking them out of the League Cup in midweek, but a back-to-form Manchester United (1/3) will be a different proposition.
United have begun a sequence of very winnable games and will be looking to climb back toward the top four over the next month, although successive home defeats to Everton and Newcastle are too fresh in the memory to take anything for granted.
West Ham could find themselves in the bottom three this weekend if results go against them and so conceivably could managerless West Brom (12/5), who take on a Hull (16/5) side commendably punching well above their weight in mid-table.
Stoke (6/5) will leapfrog Aston Villa (12/5) if they can beat them at the Brittania Stadium, but this is a game with draw (11/5) written all over it.