Craven Cottage - Premier League
Two teams who are very much looking ahead to next season come together on the final day of the season, as Fulham host Newcastle at Craven Cottage. Whites caretaker Scott Parker is trying to make his time at the helm permanent, while visiting boss Benitez has a major decision to make on his future.
The teams drew 0-0 at St James’ Park earlier this season, with Fulham winning three in a row before that. Newcastle haven’t tasted victory at the Cottage since 2007, with this fixture producing 10 home wins in 14 meetings since.
Denis Odoi is doubtful for this game due to a head injury, while the hosts will definitely be without three players on Sunday. On-loan Timothy Fosu-Mensah has returned to Manchester United following knee surgery, while Lazar Markovic and Marcus Bettinelli are both injured.
DeAndre Yedlin has also had surgery and misses out for the visitors, while Sean Longstaff and Florian Lejeune both suffered season-ending knee injuries earlier in the campaign. Fabian Schar is a doubt after he picked up a muscle problem late on in Newcastle’s loss to Liverpool on Saturday.
Fulham v Newcastle United Preview and Predictions
Apparently all it took for Fulham to start playing the football we thought they would be capable of this season was for them to have their relegation confirmed. The Cottagers are down and out of the top flight, while Newcastle preserved their Premier League status for another year ahead of an interesting summer.
Fulham won three in a row without conceding a single goal before their narrow defeat at Wolves last weekend. Parker spoke of fine margins after the game compared to their troubles earlier in the season, but there’s clearly a huge difference between playing when the pressure’s off.
That could help the home team once again on Sunday, as the Whites look for their third straight home victory, and fourth win in five. They beat Everton, Bournemouth and Cardiff City before losing 1-0 in Wolverhampton, with the Cottagers the slight favourites in the betting this weekend at 31/20.
Newcastle are 9/5 after they gave Liverpool a serious fright at the weekend. The Magpies equalised twice against the title-chasing Reds but went down to a late goal from a set piece, which has often been their downfall this season. Benitez’s future is very much up in the air, but the visiting contingent will once again implore their manager to stay. It is 13/5 for them to see their team claim a draw in their final game of the season.
Fulham to win and BTTS at 7/2
There’s no pressure on either side, which has worked wonders for Fulham’s form, while Newcastle put two past Liverpool’s watertight defence last weekend.
Ryan Babel to score first at 13/2
The Dutchman scored a goal of the season contender in Fulham’s last home match, which proved to be the only goal of the game against Cardiff.